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The Gospel In A Nutshell

Recently, a friendly fellow asked me to summarize the gospel in sixty-seconds or less. With no stopwatch at hand, I cannot confirm whether or not I made it within the allotted time.

But the duration was not the critical factor. What is the essence of the “good news” of Jesus Christ?

“G” — God’s Glory

In the first place, God created man in his image (Gen. 1.26). Since that is so, he expects us to reflect that image by emulating the “glory” of his holiness (1 Cor. 11.7; cf. Col. 3.10; Rm. 8.29; 1 Pet. 1.15-16).

“O” — Offense

However, humanity has breached that sacred trust. We have “all” degraded that holy image by transgressing his righteous law (Rm. 3.23; 1 Jn. 4.3).

Consequently, sin has alienated us from our sinless God, who cannot commune with evil (Isa. 59.1-2; Hab. 1.13). In this separation from God, we have “lost” the “light” of truth (2 Cor. 4.3-6) and the “hope” of life (Eph. 2.12; 4.18). In turn, “death”—both physical and spiritual—now reigns over us (Rm. 5.12ff; 6.23; Eph. 2.1, 5).

“S” — Savior

We cannot repair this fracture by doing good works (Eph. 2.9; see “A Good Heart”), though “doing good” is certainly essential to inheriting eternal life (Rm. 2.7).

Rather, even if we should live a relatively good life, and even if we should sin only once, all our good works can never so outweigh that singular sin as to remove its guilt from our souls (Jms 2.10). Another remedy is needed.

So God, “rich in mercy” (Eph. 2.4), implemented an eternal plan to save us from our sins (Eph. 3.10-12). The focus of the “gospel,” therefore, concerns matters of “salvation” (Rm. 1.16; Eph. 1.13; 2 Tim. 1.8-10).

Because he desires the salvation of all people (1 Tim. 2.4; 2 Pet 3.9), he has given everyone a second chance to reconcile with him (cf. Rm. 5.11; 2 Cor. 5.19), though we are undeserving of it. Thus, it is called, “the gospel of grace” (Acts 20.24).

But how does he do this?

By means of a savior.

Simply put, God removes our sins and restores us to him through the shedding of his son’s sinless blood (Heb. 9.22-26; Mt. 26.28). This purifying blood is available to the entire “world” (Jn. 3.16; cf. Jn. 1.29; 1 Jn. 2.2; Rev. 1.5). Thus, Paul affirmed that the “gospel” centers on the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15.1-4; cf. 2 Tim. 2.8).

However, to access the redeeming benefits of his purifying blood, we must be “in Christ” (2 Tim. 1.1; 2.1, 10; Rm. 3.24; Eph. 2.13; Rm. 8.1; 2 Tim. 1.9). “No one” outside of Christ can be restored to God (Jn. 14.6), for we can only obtain salvation through Jesus (Jn. 10.7-9; Acts 4.12; 1 Tim. 2.5-6).

“P” — Put On Christ

How do we get “into Christ”?

(1) We, having heard his message (Rm. 10.17; Mk. 1.15), must faithfully embrace Jesus as our “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2.36). The “gospel of God” requires us to accept the fact that Jesus is both human (“of the seed of David according to the flesh”) and divine — “the Son of God” — (Rm. 1.1-4). “If you do not believe that I am He,” Jesus said, “you will die in your sins” (Jn. 8.24).

But it is not enough to accept the facts concerning Christ, for “faith without works is dead” (Jms. 2.26). Indeed, some believed in Christ but failed to obey his will, leading to their ruination (Jn. 12.42-43; Lk. 6.46-49; Mt. 7.21-23). Rather, this “gospel” must also be “obeyed” (Rm. 10.16; cf. 2 Thess. 1.8; 1 Pet. 4.17; for the role of “works” in our salvation, see: “Salvation: A Free Gift”). Here’s how.

(2) We must repent of our sins (Mk. 1.14-15; Acts 3.19; 17.30). “Unless you repent,” Jesus said, “you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13.3).

(3) We must confess “that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8.37; cf. Mt. 10.32-33; Rm. 10.9-10).

(4) Immersion in water (baptism) is the culminating act when God “washes away” our sins (Acts 22.16; cf. Acts 2.38), places us “into Christ” (Gal. 3.27), and “saves” us (Mk. 16.16; 1 Pet. 3.21). When we, with humble faith, submit to the Lord in this procedure, we come into contact with Jesus’ purifying blood.

Since immersion is a “burial” (Col. 2.12), Paul affirmed that when we are “baptized into Christ Jesus we are baptized into his death” (Rm. 6.3). In short, we die to sin just as Jesus died on the cross. We are buried in water just as he was buried in the tomb. We arise from the water just as he was raised from the dead. It is only when we are raised from the water that we begin our new spiritual life in Christ.

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in newness of life” (Rm. 6.4; cf. 2 Cor. 5.17; Jn. 3.5).

“E” — Endure

Once we have put on Christ, received the remission of sins, and been reconciled with God, God adds us to “one body” (1 Cor. 12.13) — the church of Christ (Eph. 3.6; 1.22-23; cf. Rm. 16.16). Indeed, the gospel pertains to the “kingdom” of Christ (Mt. 4.23; cf. Acts 8.12).

But that is not the end of the gospel story. We must stay “in Christ” through a life of fidelity to him in his church-kingdom (Jn. 15.4; Col. 1.23; Rev. 2.10; Phil. 1.17; Mt. 24.13). “He who endures to the end,Jesus said, “shall be saved” (Mk. 13.13).

Anyone who “looks back” to the world will “not be fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9.62). They will be “fallen from grace” (Gal. 5.4).

“L” — Life Eternal

If we remain “faithful until death,” the Lord will give us the “garland of life” (Rev. 2.10). Indeed, the “good news” of Christ is a gospel of “life” (Phil 2.16).

And this “life” is one of blissful “peace” (eirene—to weave together; Eph. 6.15; Rm. 10.15), since it knits us back together with God (Col. 1.20), restores our inner man with a sense of security (Phil. 4.7), and unites us with others (Eph. 2.14; 1 Th. 5.13; 2 Tim. 2.22; Heb. 12.14).

In this peaceful life, we

“shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21.3-4).


Naturally, this is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject, since the entireword of the Lord(i.e., the New Testament) constitutes the gospel message as a whole (1 Pet. 1.25). But this is the basic framework of the good message Christians profess.

Let us accept it (1 Tim. 1.15; Mk. 4.20; 1 Cor. 15.1), obey it (Rm. 6.17; 2 Cor. 9.13), and preach it (Mt. 24.14; Mk. 16.15).



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