The good news of Jesus Christ, also known as the gospel, is the message that Jesus came to save humanity from sin and death. He did this by dying on the cross for our sins and rising again, offering salvation, meaning and purpose to all who believe in Him.
If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The good news of Jesus Christ is that He is the Son of God who died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. He rose again from the dead and offers forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life to all those who repent and believe in Him.
In this comprehensive article, we will explore the meaning of the gospel, why humanity needs saving, the life and ministry of Jesus, His death and resurrection, salvation by grace through faith, and the hope for eternal life that He offers.
The Meaning and Background of the Gospel
Definition and Etymology of ‘Gospel’
The word “gospel” literally means “good news” and comes from the Old English word godspel, which combines god (good) and spel (news). It is a translation of the Greek word euangelion, from which we also get the English words evangelize and evangelical.
In the Christian context, the gospel refers to the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. The message that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection paid the penalty for sin and paved the way for forgiveness and restored relationship with God is called the gospel.
The gospel is at the very heart of Christianity. In fact, the Apostle Paul stated, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Without the gospel message, Christianity would not exist.
Old Testament Background and Promise of a Messiah
The Old Testament contains prophecies and patterns that paved the way for the coming of Jesus Christ and the gospel message.
After the first humans sinned and death entered the world (Genesis 3), God already gave hints that one day he would send a Savior. For example, in Genesis 3:15, God cursed the serpent but said that the “seed” (offspring) of the woman would crush the serpent’s head.
This pointed forward to Jesus defeating sin and Satan.
Later, God made a covenant with Abraham and promised that through his offspring, all the peoples of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18). The Messiah would come from Abraham’s family line.
Further prophecies narrowed down that the Messiah would specifically come from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10) and the line of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 9:6-7). Symbols and patterns also fortold Jesus’ work, like the Passover lamb that died to save Israelites from death (Exodus 12) and the bronze snake lifted up by Moses to save people from a plague (Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14-15).
So the Old Testament contains hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah. It promises a deliverer who will deal with sin, restore the broken relationship between God and humanity, and bring justice and righteousness to the world.
Jesus claimed to be this long-awaited Messiah who fulfills the Old Testament (Luke 24:27) and brings the good news of salvation.
Humanity’s Need for Salvation
The Effects of Sin
Sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Ever since, humanity has lived with the effects of sin, such as sickness, death, pain, and hardship. The Bible teaches that all people have sinned and fall short of God’s perfect standard (Romans 3:23).
Sin mars people’s relationships with God, others, and even themselves. It causes spiritual blindness, confusion, and separation from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18-19). Sin also leads to destructive behaviors that harm individuals, families, and society as a whole.
Separation from God
Sin creates a great chasm between God and humanity that we cannot cross on our own. God is perfectly holy and cannot tolerate sin in His presence (Habakkuk 1:13). Our sin alienates us from God and makes having a relationship with Him impossible.
We are lost, without hope, and incapable of saving ourselves or earning our way back to God. Ephesians 2:12 describes people apart from Christ as “separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.”
Only God can bridge this gap.
Helplessness to Save Ourselves
Despite humanity’s best efforts, we cannot make ourselves righteous before God. Our good works and religious rituals fall woefully short of God’s perfection (Isaiah 64:6). We cannot earn salvation or work our way to heaven.
Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Our only hope is for God to graciously save us through Jesus Christ.
As Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Salvation is found in Christ alone.
The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ
Jesus as the Promised Messiah
Jesus Christ is believed by Christians to be the long-awaited Messiah that was prophesied in the Old Testament of the Bible. The prophecies stated that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David and would come to deliver God’s people (Isaiah 11:1-5, Jeremiah 23:5-6).
According to the Gospels, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of David, and descended from the line of David (Matthew 1, Luke 3). Throughout his ministry, Jesus often made claims that he had come to fulfill the Messianic prophecies, causing many to believe he was the Christ (Luke 4:16-21).
Teachings and Miracles
During his approximately 3 year public ministry, Jesus travelled mostly around the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and performing many miracles. His teachings focused on the Kingdom of God and calling people to repentance and faith (Mark 1:14-15).
Some of his most famous sermons and parables are recorded in Matthew Chapters 5-7 and 13. Jesus also demonstrated his divine authority by healing the sick, casting out demons, forgiving sins, and showing power over nature through miracles like feeding the 5000, walking on water, and calming a storm (Matthew 8:1-4, 14:22-33, Mark 4:35-41).
Through his words and deeds, Jesus made radical claims about his identity and mission which caused many to believe he was the Son of God.
Claims of Divinity
In an ancient Jewish cultural context that was strictly monotheistic, Jesus made the unprecedented claim that he himself was the divine Son of God. He used the title “Son of Man” from Daniel 7:13-14 to hint at his heavenly identity, and explicitly called God his own “Father” which was unheard-of for a Jewish teacher (Mark 14:36).
He audaciously forgave people’s sins and claimed authority over God’s moral law (Mark 2:1-12). He provocatively used God’s holy name “I AM” to apply to himself (John 8:58). And during his trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus openly admitted under oath to being the divine Messiah and Son of God, which led them to accuse him of blasphemy (Mark 14:61-64).
This climaxed at his death when Jesus declared on the cross “It is finished” (John 19:28-30). Most Christians believe his death served as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of humanity, accomplishing salvation according to God’s mysterious plan.
The Death and Resurrection of Jesus
Death on the Cross
Jesus willingly went to the cross to die as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity (John 10:17-18). Though innocent of any wrongdoing, Jesus endured flogging and crucifixion under orders from Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:26).
He suffered greatly, shedding his precious blood as payment for sins he did not commit (Hebrews 9:22). As he hung on the cross in agony, Jesus exemplified love and forgiveness by asking God to pardon even those who crucified him (Luke 23:34).
After about six hours on the cross, Jesus willfully gave up his spirit and died (Matthew 27:50).
Payment for Sins
According to the Bible, the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). This means that someone must die to pay the penalty for mankind’s rebellion against God. Jesus’ death served as this payment, redeeming humanity from sin and its consequences (Ephesians 1:7).
Though sinless, Jesus took on the punishment sinners deserve (2 Corinthians 5:21). His sacrifice opened the way for people to be reconciled and restored in relationship with God (Romans 5:10). The shedding of his innocent blood on the cross satisfied God’s justice regarding sin (1 John 2:2).
Rising from Death
After being dead for three days, Jesus miraculously returned to life (Matthew 12:40, Acts 10:40). On the Sunday after his crucifixion, Jesus emerged alive from the tomb, leaving it empty (Matthew 28:6).
His resurrection demonstrated his power over mortality and defeated the power of death (2 Timothy 1:10). It confirmed his deity as the Son of God as well (Romans 1:4). Had Christ remained dead, believers would have no hope beyond this life (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).
However, the fact that Jesus rose enables those who trust in him to look forward to resurrection from the dead as well.
Defeat of Sin and Death
In his death and resurrection, Jesus achieved decisive victory over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). His sacrifice on the cross atoned for sin and turned away God’s wrath against it (Romans 5:9). It opened the way for deliverance from sin’s control over human hearts and lives (Romans 6:5-11).
Jesus’ return to life displayed his authority and power over mortality. The grave could not keep the author of life imprisoned (Acts 3:15). His triumph gives believers confidence that one day they too will gain resurrection victory over death (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
Until then, Christians can walk in new life through the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sent after ascending to heaven (Romans 8:2).
Salvation by Grace Through Faith
We Can’t Earn Salvation
The Bible teaches that salvation cannot be earned through good works or religious rituals. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Our good works and efforts can never be enough to earn salvation. We are saved by God’s grace and mercy.
Justification by Faith
We are justified and made right before God through faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” When we place our trust in Christ, we are forgiven of our sins and declared righteous in God’s sight.
This happens by faith alone, not because of anything we do.
Saved by God’s Grace
The Bible teaches that we are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus. Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Salvation comes from God’s loving and merciful grace.
Our salvation depends fully upon what Christ has done for us on the cross, not on our own good works or merit.
The Hope of Eternal Life
The message of Jesus Christ offers tremendous hope – the hope of eternal life with God. This hope stems from several key promises and truths found in the Bible.
Promises of Eternal Life
Jesus made many direct promises of eternal life to those who believe in Him. For example, in John 3:16, Jesus declares, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
This is an incredible promise – that by simply believing in Christ, we can escape perishing and instead inherit never-ending life.
Jesus also stated, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25). Death does not need to be the end – Jesus overcame it through His own resurrection, and promises the same eternal life to His followers.
A Personal Relationship with God
This hope of eternal life includes the amazing reality that we can know God personally. Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
Eternal life begins now, as we enter into a joyful relationship with God through trusting in Christ.
Knowing God, walking closely with Him each day, and experiencing His incredible love and blessings can infuse our lives with great meaning, peace, and satisfaction. And the excitement is – this relationship will endure far beyond this life!
The Kingdom of Heaven
The hope Jesus offers also includes the promise of Heaven – the very Kingdom of God. He declared, “In my Father’s house are many rooms… I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Can you imagine anything more wonderful than living eternally in God’s glorious Kingdom?
The Bible describes Heaven as a breathtaking paradise without sorrow, pain, sin, or death – instead, it is filled with joy, beauty, reunions, rewards, and thriving life (see Revelation 21:1-5). This is the certain destiny for those who put their trust in Christ – what an inspiration!
In conclusion, the good news of Jesus Christ is that He came to rescue us from bondage to sin and death. Through His sinless life, sacrificial death on the cross, and victorious resurrection, Jesus made a way for us to be reconciled to God and receive salvation and eternal life by grace through faith.
This free gift is available to all who repent of their sins and believe in Him. This good news gives meaning, hope, and purpose to life now, and the promise of an eternity with God. If you have not already, I encourage you to put your trust in Jesus and receive God’s amazing grace and gift of life.