God has blessed us greatly by sending the gospel of Jesus Christ to us that we might be saved and through us that we might lead others to salvation in Jesus Christ. But, in order to lead others, we have to understand the nature of the gospel. What is the gospel of Jesus Christ?
The word gospel translates a word from the New Testament which means “a good message.” And our message is not any “good message” but it is the “good message” about Jesus Christ. To gain a deeper understanding of the gospel of Jesus, it is helpful to step back and get a bigger, broader picture of the gospel.
So what is the big picture of the gospel? While the Bible is composed of 66 books, written by over 40 different authors, in three different languages, and a time spanning around 2,000 years, there is one grand storyline that runs throughout the pages of the Bible. This storyline, or better yet, this grand narrative is the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. We can see this storyline in four different acts that begin in Genesis and end in Revelation.
The first act is CREATION. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). In eternity past, God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) existed, but the universe did not. All exists because God decided to create. Since God is perfect, everything He does and creates must also be perfect. Therefore, after the creation account we read, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). There was nothing wrong with the world: no disease, no hardship, no broken-relationships, no pollution, no disaster, no messed up bodies or minds, no disobedience to God, and no death. However, we look around us and realize that the world is far from perfect now. If God created everything perfectly, how did we get where we are now? This leads us to the second act.
The second act is the FALL of mankind into sin. Sin refers to both attitudes and actions contrary to God’s direction; simply put, sin is disobedience to God. God warned the first man that sin would lead to death (Gen 2:15-17). By death, God meant both a spiritual death of separation from Himself, the source of all life (Isa 59:2), and a delayed physical death that resulted from being cut off from that source (Gen 3:19). When the first man sinned, his nature changed. He became a sinner. He passed this sinful nature on to every one of his decedents—to all of mankind so that we are all sinners by nature (Rom 5:19) from conception (Psa 51:5). Every human lives consistently with that nature by disobeying God (Rom 3:23). The result of being a sinner is God’s condemnation in Hell for eternity (2 Pet 2:4-10). If nothing changes, every human being would be in a grave and desperate eternal state. But this leads us to the third act.
The third act is RESCUE through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. From the moment that mankind fell into sin, God promised to send a Savior into the world (Gen 3:15) to destroy Satan and bless all the people groups of the earth. As the Old Testament continues, we see mankind’s inability to make ourselves right with God and we see more details given about who this Savior would be. He would come as a decedent of Abraham (Gen 12:3), a decedent of Isaac (Gen 26:4), a decedent of Jacob (Gen 28:14), a decedent of Judah (Gen 49:10), and a decedent of David (2 Sam 7:12-13), just as Matthew testifies (Mt 1:1-18). He would be a prophet with power like that of Moses who would serve as a mediator between God and mankind (Duet 18:15-17). He would come as a Substitutionary Savior, taking the punishment for sin that belonged to others (Isa 53). He would be a Priestly-King in the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110). He would be born of a virgin in order to be God-Among-Mankind once again (Isa 7:14). He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), would be the faithful Israelite who would return from Egypt (Hos 11:1), would be the true Shepherd betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zech 11:7-14). Jesus came and lived a perfect life of obedience toward God the Father, He died on the cross, willingly taking the punishment of others upon Himself. He was buried and rose on the third day. He ascended into heaven at the right hand of the Father. When Jesus came, He confirmed all of this when He said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The word “believes” in the New Testament speaks of a sincere trust that results in a change of life. When someone surrenders to Jesus as Lord and Savior in faith, God saves him or her from death and Hell (Rom 10:9-13) and changes his or her nature from sinner to saint (2 Cor 5:17).
The fourth act is the RESTORATION in which Jesus makes all things new. When Jesus came the first time, He made a way for those who would trust Him to be made right with God, forgiven of sin, transformed into those who obey God in faith, and promised eternal life. Yet, the world is still corrupted by sin and its results. Will things ever be made right again? Paul tells us that the whole world is eagerly waiting that day (Rom 8:19-25). Jesus promised that He would return and make everything right (Matt 16:27). He will do so by destroying the present world, creating a new heavens and earth, perfecting His people, living among His people, and condemning forever those who reject Him (Rev 21:1-8). The eternal state of genuine born-again Christians will be like that of mankind in the Garden of Eden before the Fall (Rev 22:1-5).
So, the Bible has one storyline, one grand narrative that can be thought of in the acts of Creation, Fall, Rescue, and Restoration. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the gospel in which we have trusted. This is the gospel of which we are blessed to testify (Acts 1:8). May God bless you as we join together in sharing this good message of Jesus Christ.