What is the Gospel?
A simple definition is “good news.” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel, which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Paul also tells us in Romans 1:16 that we are saved by the Gospel: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Seeing how important the Gospel is may help us to see just why Jesus desired that it be carried to the entire world (Matthew 28:18-20).
There are three things that are needed in order to obey the Gospel: knowledge, understanding and an obedient heart. First, let’s look at knowledge, which is defined as awareness of facts, truths or principles. In order to gain knowledge about the Gospel of Christ, we must be taught about him and what he has done for us. Isaiah 53 shows us what Christ has done for us; from that, we know he died for us.
Having knowledge about the Gospel is good, but something more is needed — understanding. Think of it this way: When one of your teachers introduces a new subject, you have the facts but not the understanding. More study is needed. It is the same with the Gospel — we must continue studying the Bible to find out how to obey it.
In the book of Acts, we have several accounts of how people did just that. Acts 2 tells us how Peter, preaching to the multitudes in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, discussed the “good news” of Jesus. By his teaching, they received knowledge about Jesus and their need for him.
Verse 37 tells us that they wanted to know what to do. Verse 38 says, “Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’”
So we see they had knowledge and understanding, but one more thing was needed — an obedient heart. Luke says about 3,000 had such a heart and were willing to obey the Gospel to be saved.
What happens when we are baptized? Physically we are immersed in water. Paul described this process in Roman 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.”
Spiritually, our sins are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). We receive the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). Our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), and we are added to the church (Acts 2:47).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is “good news.” It must be obeyed (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).