Sometimes as pastors we say things like “When is the last time your shared the gospel?” or “Are you living a gospel-centered life?” But often times we forget or neglect that there are many who, though born again or saved, do not understand what the term “the gospel” entails. This is especially important for parents who want to make sure that their children hear “the gospel,” but don’t really know what to say or how to say it. Sometimes it’s because parents have heard it so many times that their memories (hearing it over and over again years ago) cloud the simplicity of the gospel, and sometimes it’s because parents are just learning it themselves. In any case, “the gospel” is “good news,” and as Jeffery Reed (lifeway.com/kidsministry/author/jeffreyreed) recently said “The gospel is good news, not a good recommendation or suggestion.”
The most explicit place in the New Testament in which the gospel is laid out is in 1 Corinthians 15:1,3-8 —
I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed…For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep.Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.Last of all, as to one abnormally born, He also appeared to me.
A good way to summarize this good news is to biblically unpack the words God, Man, Christ, Response.
- God. God is the creator of all things (Gen. 1:1). He is perfectly holy, worthy of all worship, and will punish sin (1 John 1:5, Rev. 4:11, Rom. 2:5-8).
- Man. All people, though created good, have become sinful by nature (Gen. 1:26-28, Ps. 51:5, Rom. 3:23). From birth, all people are alienated from God, hostile to God, and subject to the wrath of God (Eph. 2:1-3).
- Christ. Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man, lived a sinless life, died on the cross to bear God’s wrath in the place of all who would believe in him, and rose from the grave in order to give his people eternal life (John 1:1, 1 Tim. 2:5, Heb. 7:26, Rom. 3:21-26, 2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Cor. 15:20-22).
- Response. God calls everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and trust in Christ in order to be saved (Mark 1:15, Acts 20:21, Rom. 10:9-10).