At the heart of the Christian faith is the “Gospel.” Gospel means “good news.” Once you truly understand it, you will see that it’s the best news that ever was. This “good news” is central to what it means to be a Christian. But for the good news to make sense, there are a few other facts that need to be known.
First of all, we need to understand something about who God is. We can learn things about God by observing the beauty and grandeur of nature. But God has specially revealed Himself in the Bible—(the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, starting in Genesis and ending in Revelation).
In the Bible, we learn many important things about God. For example:
We learn that He is our Creator. (Genesis 1-2). God made us, and the entire universe. As Creator, God owns all things. He made us, and so we belong to Him. We owe our existence to Him. We owe everything to Him—including our love and obedience.
We learn that God is holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16). This means that God is not like us. His worth and glory far transcend us. Nothing impure or evil will exist in His presence. The Bible says of heaven, “nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false” (Revelation 21:27a). Sinning against God is very serious because of this.
We learn that God is just and will judge the world. God will one day judge all mankind (Acts 17:31). Every person who has ever lived will stand before God and give an account for their lives.
There is much more the Bible teaches about God, but these are a few central truths that help the gospel make sense.
The Bible also tells us about who we are as humans. It tells us God’s good original purpose for humanity and what went wrong.
In the beginning, God made everything good. God and His people, Adam and Eve, lived in peace and harmony in a world that was paradise. But there was a rule to be obeyed (Genesis 2:16-17).
Tragically, instead of obeying God Adam and Eve chose to listen to Satan’s temptation to break that rule and eat what was forbidden by God. Eating a piece of fruit may seem like a small thing, but this little act was an act of rebellion against their good and loving Creator, who had blessed them so abundantly. It was like spitting in the face of their Creator and King. Eating that forbidden fruit was standing in solidarity with God’s enemy.
In that act of rebellion—cosmic treason against their Creator and King—humanity fell and the curse of sin entered the world (Romans 5:12).
Sin brought misery, decay, death, and worst of all, alienation from God. Because God is holy, but humans chose to rebel against Him, we are now liable to judgment.
Each one of us is guilty before God. As Romans 3:23 teaches, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” At its root, sin is an attempt at self-rule. Because God is our Creator and Owner, He is also our true King. Yet we rebelliously try to be our own kings and choose our own way. We live selfishly, pridefully, and break God’s specific laws given in Scripture in many ways.
The Bible says that if we have broken even one of God’s laws, we are guilty as lawbreakers (James 2:10).
If we have ever lied, we are liars.
If we have ever stolen anything, even something small, we are thieves.
If we have ever lusted, Jesus says we are adulterers at heart (Matthew 5:28).
If we have ever been discontent and desired something that didn’t belong to us, we are guilty of coveting.
These are just a few of God’s commands!
And the penalty for our sin, as it was with our first ancestors, is death and eternal alienation from God in a place of eternal, conscious, body-and-soul, torment called hell (Revelation 21:8, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
This is the bad news.
It isn’t easy to accept.
If this was all there was to the Bible, then there wouldn’t be much of a point in reading it.
But this isn’t all there is!
If a person has a deadly, but curable disease, a good doctor will be honest with them about the seriousness of their condition. That part isn’t easy to hear. But unless the patient understands how their life is in danger, they won’t likely take the treatment to cure their disease.
God doesn’t reveal this bad news simply to make us feel worse on the way to hell. God is straightforward with us about the seriousness of our situation because we don’t have to go to hell. There is a way of escape. There is a way to be forgiven, pardoned, and reconciled to God. There is a way to heaven, even for sinners like us.
Jesus is the way (John 14:6).
Because God so loved the world, He sent His only Son, Jesus (John 3:16).
Jesus, being fully God, was conceived supernaturally and miraculously in the womb of the virgin Mary and was born as a human being.
Jesus lived a perfect life. He never sinned. He obeyed God’s law perfectly (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Then Jesus did the unthinkable. He voluntarily gave up His life for sinners (John 10:18).
He allowed Himself to be captured. He submitted to the cruelty of an unjust trial. He was tortured, beaten, mocked, and finally nailed to the cross to die.
He did this out of love—for us who had sinned against Him.
Romans 5:7-8 dwells on the wonder of this: “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Jesus died as a substitute—the innocent standing in the place of the guilty. He took the punishment we deserved. He took the sentence that justice demanded. On the cross, He suffered and died under the judgment and curse of God the Father (Galatians 3:13).
He was forsaken so that sinners would be received. He was condemned so that sinners would be forgiven. He took death so that sinners might live forever (Isaiah 53:4-6, 9-10, and 12).
Because of the cross, sinners like you and me can receive salvation from hell and eternal life with God.
And Jesus didn’t stay dead! He rose from the dead, just as He promised (Mark 10:33-34). He was seen by over 500 eyewitnesses at one time, as well as others, over the course of forty days after rising from the grave.
Then he ascended back into heaven, having accomplished the work He came to do. And He is returning one day to judge the world and save all who believe in Him.
4. What now?
How do you get in on this salvation?
Do you have to go on a long pilgrimage? Pray a certain prayer? Give a certain sum of money? Try harder to be a better person? Feel a certain emotion?
The amazing truth is that God offers this priceless gift of salvation to us—by grace. That means we don’t have to earn it. In fact, we can’t earn it. One helpful way to think of grace is G.R.A.C.E. G.od’s R.iches A.t C.hrist’s E.xpense.
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.”
We are saved by grace—not by our merit. It is to be received as a gift to the unworthy, not as wages we’ve earned by good behavior.
And Ephesians 2:8 says that we are saved by grace through faith. Faith is looking away from yourself and looking to Jesus. It’s ceasing from trusting in yourself and your effort to earn heaven and putting all your trust in Jesus.
And true faith is more than just a one-time experience or an emotional high. True faith is a lasting conviction of who Jesus is and what He has done for you. True faith sees Jesus as worth more than all the world—and even life itself. True faith is willing to give up everything for Him if need be (Matthew 16:24-25).
True faith trusts Jesus with life and with eternity.
True faith sees Jesus for who He is as Lord. It recognizes His right to rule as King of the Universe and our Creator. And so true faith involves repentance. Repentance is turning away from self-rule and submitting to Christ. It’s turning away from sin and turning to God—because it believes Him and trusts that He is better than the temporary pleasures of sin.
God the Holy Spirit comes to live within all who believe in Jesus with this saving faith. You may be entangled in sin habits that you feel powerless to break. Bring them to Jesus. The power of God is greater than any addiction or habit.
He gives believers a new spiritual heart, one that loves God and desires to please Him—not to earn heaven, but out of gratitude and love for Him who earned heaven for us, at such great cost to Himself.
The Christian gospel is good news for sinners. Though you may have sinned greatly, God’s mercy is greater. Come to Him and He will forgive whatever you have done. Jesus said that the one coming to Him will not be cast out (John 6:37). You don’t need to fear rejection when coming to Jesus. Nobody has ever come to Him and been turned away.
But we don’t have forever to get in on this great salvation. Death comes unexpectedly. It comes to young and old, healthy, and sick alike. And after death comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
Because of how short life is and how unexpectedly it ends, we ought to feel a sense of urgency. Acts 17:30-31 says, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Why would you put this off until tomorrow? Tomorrow is not promised.
You have today… this moment. As you read this, you have breath in your lungs and a beating heart. But you have no way of knowing how many more breaths and heartbeats you will get.
You’ve just read the best news that ever was—of the love of God for sinners and the great salvation He’s provided for people just like you.
It can be yours today. You can know peace with God, a clear conscience and forgiveness of sin, and the promise of eternal life today.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).
Will you believe?
To learn more about Jesus and the good news of salvation, and to know what to do next, start reading the Bible. A good place to begin is the book of Mark, which tells about the life and teaching of Jesus.
If you have questions about the reliability of the Bible, here is a short audio message by Dr. Voddie Baucham entitled “Why I Choose to Believe the Bible”
While there are many helpful resources online to help you learn more, the better way to learn is alongside other Christians in a local church. Jesus calls those who believe on Him to be baptized and seek to live for God’s glory by following the teaching of Jesus in community with other Christians. Jesus meant for the Christian life to be a life shared with others in the only institution He founded—the church. We encourage you to find a local church that teaches the Bible and the gospel you’ve just read about so you can grow spiritually, and help others do the same.