Getting the Gospel Right

What is the gospel? A church will rise no higher than the level of its understanding of who God is and the plan of salvation. This is the most significant question facing the Christian church today.

Gospel is mostly a New Testament term, though the concept goes all the way back to Genesis where One who would bruise the head of the serpent is prophesied (3:15)—the first hint of the gospel in Scripture. Protoeuangelion (Greek) reflects the implications of this prophecy. From this term, referred to as the good news of a military victory or the birth of a king (in Greek culture), gospel is derived. Gospel (English) comes from godspell, Anglo-Saxon for “good news.”

So what is the gospel? It is the good news about Jesus. Its primacy and content are underscored in 1 Corinthians 15:2-4:

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (NIV).

In summary, the gospel holds primary importance in our Christian walk, and it’s about Jesus—His life, death, burial, and resurrection. Paul further defines the gospel as “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16, NIV), meaning that it is not only about a set of historical events but also about God’s present power to save, available to all regardless of race or color.

But Satan is a skillful imitator, so the invention of “other gospels” and the perversion of the true gospel (language used in Galatians 1:6, 7) has been an ever-present challenge to the cause of the kingdom.  e gospel is perverted both by enemies of the cross and by well-intentioned Christians, ignorant of what the gospel is and what it isn’t.

The gospel is not a set of rules to live by, nor a means by which we can achieve “our best life yet.” It isn’t a cure-all for the emotional and psychological ills and stresses of the culture. Rather, it is the joyous news of the free gift  of salvation, by faith alone, in Christ alone.

To do church right, we must get the gospel right, and getting the gospel right should be the commitment of all Christians whose core commission is to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.