What Is The Gospel?
It’s good to see you have taken time to consider the Bible’s message.
Perhaps you are cautious of religion. Going to church, performing rituals,
following traditions. And we would quite agree with you. The Bible teaches
that God lives in the heart of men and women who listen to His words.
The only ceremonies we should follow are those the Bible itself clearly
explains – and there are very few of them in the Bible. Being baptized
by dipping in water and breaking bread every week in memory of Jesus are
the two main ones.
Or perhaps you’re just an ordinary person who wants God in your life,
but doesn’t want to go any deeper. Now this is probably true of many of
us who would read a religious leaflet, come to a lecture about the Bible,
or have a discussion about it. It’s wonderful that we believe that God
is; for surely He does exist. But there is so much more waiting to be
discovered – by studying His word, the Bible, we can come to know Him
and have a part in His eternal plan. That book was written by His Spirit
influencing the people who wrote it – it isn’t just the words of men,
like any other book. So this is why it’s so worth studying.
Or maybe you think you know it all. You’ve looked at the Bible, you figured
it out. But if you are very, very honest, something is missing. There’s
that hollow feeling still, that fear of the future, that lack of certainty
about our final destiny... that doubt that’s like the black dog that follows
most men and women till their grave. And to you, we’d say: Give it one
more try. Perhaps human interpretations have got muddled up with your
consideration of the Bible. Get back to the Bible text itself.
Or maybe you see Christianity as “just another intellectual adventure”,
another hobby to play with for a while, another fascination, another town
along a road – that leads to the grave all the same. Life is too short
to have this kind of cynical attitude. One day you will be laid down in
your grave, one day the terrible finality of death will close in on you.
Give the Bible text a fair hearing now. Please, purely for your own sake,
spare a few minutes of your life to at least consider what it says.
So can I address the question, What Is The Gospel?
Please open your New Testament to Matthew 1:1. This is the beginning
of Matthew’s explanation of the Gospel. We read:
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son
It’s not quite what we’d expect. He says Jesus is the descendant of David
and Abraham. And this, for Matthew, is the beginning of the Gospel. Paul
saw it the same way. Have a look at Galatians 3:8:
And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through
faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall
all nations be blessed.
So, the Gospel is what was promised to Abraham. That’s what Paul says.
So, if we can understand what God promised to Abraham, we can understand
what the Gospel is. So let’s go back to the Old Testament, and see what
God told Abraham. We’ll go to Genesis, the first book of the Bible, Genesis
And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein
thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession;
and I will be their God.
So Abraham was told that he and his children would live for ever on this
earth. So, eternal life is an idea that comes up in the Old Testament.
Note that – because the essential message of the Bible is the same all
the way through. How could this be? Turn on to Genesis 22:17,18:
"That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I
will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand
which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate
of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth
be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice".
Abraham was to have a son who would be the source of blessing for the
whole world. Now the way to understand the Bible is to see how the Bible
itself quotes itself and gives us the interpretation. Now these words
we have just read are quoted in the New Testament – in Acts 3:25,26. Let’s
go there and find the interpretation.
"Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant
which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy
seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first
God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning
away every one of you from his iniquities".
So, who is the seed of Abraham? Jesus. And what are the blessings he
would enable for men and women of the whole world? The blessings of forgiveness
of sins and salvation. Let’s go further. To Galatians 3:16:
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith
not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which
So, the seed of Abraham was one man, singular, Jesus. But how could that
one man become so many, as many as the stars in the sky? Let’s read Galatians
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have
put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither
bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all
one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s
seed, and heirs according to the promise."
So, only those who have been baptized into Christ have a part in these
promises – the promises of eternal life here on earth. This is why we
must be baptized if we are going to be saved! Paul said that his hope
was “the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20). As he
faced death, this was his hope – the hope of Israel. What is baptism,
then? It isn’t sprinkling. The New Testament is written in Greek, and
the word translated ‘baptism’ means really to dip. It was used about a
ship sinking, being submerged, or a piece of cloth being dyed from one
colour to another by immersing it. Have a look at Mathew 3:13-16:
"Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be
baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be
baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said
unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil
all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was
baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens
were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like
a dove, and lighting upon him."
Jesus went “down into” the water and came “up out of it”. He was baptized
as an adult, not as a baby; by dipping, not sprinkling. That’s why it
was done in a river. And if He was baptized, so should we be. This dipping
and rising up signifies the death and resurrection of Jesus, and that
we have decided to make His death and resurrection our own.
This is why it has to be by immersion, not by sprinkling. Have a
look at Romans 6:3-5:
"Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus
Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with
him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from
the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk
in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the
likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection"
This is why we appeal to you to be baptized – make it your aim in life,
to accept Jesus Christ! By being baptized into Jesus, we become part of
Him, and therefore the promises apply to us. Therefore when He returns,
we will be resurrected, judged and then, if we have lived faithfully according
to God’s word, we will be given the eternal life which He now has. Then
we will live for ever in God’s Kingdom here on earth. If you believe this,
then life has a new meaning. Whatever material problems we have, we will
realize that they are only temporary, and when Christ returns He will
give us a new and eternal life. This is why in the Bible and in Christ
there is real HOPE. The hope ahead is so great that our present problems
do not seem so great.
But how can it be, that this man Jesus can save us? He was our representative,
and this is why we must be baptized into His death and resurrection; because
He was just like us. Have a look at Heb. 2:14-18:
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and
blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through
death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is,
the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their
lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature
of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in
all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that
he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining
to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in
that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour
them that are tempted."
Notice in passing that the devil is not an animal or a dragon. It is
used here as a personification for sin. “The wages of sin is death”
(Romans 6:23), but here we read that ‘the devil’ “has the power of
death”. We need to struggle against our own natures, not against an invisible
being outside of ourselves. Verse 14 says the same thing several times
– He, Himself, likewise, partook, the same nature as us. Yet most ‘Christian’
groups teach that there are three Gods in a trinity, and one of them was
Jesus. But this isn’t what the Bible says. And according to Hebrews, it
is very important we get our understanding of Jesus right. He was exactly
our nature. The writer stresses it 4 times! He was tempted like us.
And how are we tempted? By our own human nature. Have a look at James
"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for
God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But
every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and
enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and
sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
This means that Jesus had our human nature. God can’t be tempted, it
says, but Jesus was tempted, Hebrews says. So Jesus wasn’t God Himself.
He was a man, the Son of God by birth, the descendant of David and Abraham
through Mary. Likewise, God can’t be born; but Jesus was born. God can’t
die; but Jesus died. We cannot see God; but men saw and handled Jesus.
Jesus didn’t exist before His birth, either. He was the son of God through
Mary. Have a look at Luke 1:31-35:
"And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth
a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall
be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto
him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the
house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know
not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit
shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow
thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee
shall be called the Son of God."
Notice all those future tenses! He will be the Son of God, Mary will
conceive in her womb – this is where Jesus began, although the idea, the
logos of Jesus, had always been with God from the beginning. Notice that
Mary was just an ordinary woman. Jesus was the descendant of Abraham and
David, and this could only have been because his mother was their descendant.
If Jesus was God, then Mary is the mother of God, and she wasn’t an ordinary
woman. If as the Bible teaches Jesus was the Son of God and also “son
of man”, the descendant of Abraham and David through Mary, it is evident
that Mary was an ordinary woman. So it’s all or nothing – a system of
true belief, or a system of wrong belief. It is important to believe the
right thing, because doctrine affects how we live. Have a look at Hebrews
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling
of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet
without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that
we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Because Jesus was of our nature, therefore we can pray with confidence
through Him to God. We don’t need a human priest, church building or pastor
to make our prayers acceptable.
So can I just summarize the things we have spoke about:
1. There is only one God, not a ‘trinity’
2. Jesus is the Son of God, not God Himself; He didn’t exist before
He was born. He had all our temptations and human experiences, but
He never sinned. He gave His life for us in a painful death, but
then, because He never sinned, God resurrected Him from the dead.
3. Through baptism into Christ by the dipping in water of an adult,
we share His death and resurrection
4. So when Jesus Christ returns we will be resurrected, judged and
given eternal life in His Kingdom – which will be based here on
this earth. This Kingdom will be like the world was in the garden
of Eden, when God first created man – and even better. All the problems
which are now on earth – war, famine, sadness, even death itself,
will be finally ended – for ever.
5. After death we are unconscious – ‘hell’ means just ‘the grave’.
6. The soul is not immortal; we are made of dust and return to
the dust. The spirit is the power of life within us, which God takes
back when we die. We don’t go on existing in any conscious form
7. ‘Satan’ is a symbol for the evil human desires inside us, against
which we must struggle; it is not the name of a dragon or monster
that exists. God is 100% powerful; He doesn’t share His power with
‘satan’. All our problems come from God, not satan, and therefore
there is a positive spiritual purpose to them. 8. By reading
the Bible for ourselves we can find the true way to God.
I do appeal to you, to study these things, and give yourself no
rest until you have come to surely know the true Gospel. I do so
hope you will study our free Bible study course; and set yourself
the aim, to be baptized one day, by dipping in water. Then you will
surely have the hope of eternal life. OK we can’t imagine eternal
life. I can only suggest we imagine a long, long line, with no end,
stretching on into the distance; and we in this life are just a
few millimetres at the start of it. This really is our hope, if
we are baptized into Jesus and live in Him. I plead with you, to
take all this seriously, and not treat it as mere religion, as just
Our modern civilization [so called] with its addiction to money
and power has left so much unaddressed; our need for beauty, for
poetry, mystery and dreams, to find love, the meaning of life, for
personal contact with God. The rush of modern life has left each
of us with the niggling conscience that this is the sort of life
we want to have, indeed, that we ought to follow. But not only do
we not follow our conscience; we don’t know where to find
something, some philosophy, some religion, which somehow synthesizes
all these needs together. But I’m bold enough to suggest that
in God and in His Son, as the Bible reveals them, stripped of all
the theology of men, the accretions of nominal Christian culture…
we find just what we need and were unconsciously looking for all
our lives. I can only say ‘taste and see…’. For
all other commentary or persuasion would be bathos compared to the
real Christ and the real God as they truly are.