The Gospel is not behavior modification, becoming a better person, or learning to become more moral. While these things may be good, they are not to be confused with the Gospel.
The Gospel simply means “the good news.” The Apostle Paul sums up the good news by stating, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Christ the Savior has brought salvation to sinners in his life, death, and resurrection. This comes as news of His accomplishment, not as advice or instruction about what we are to do for God. It is helpful to see the Gospel in the context of human history starting with the creation of all things.
God is holy and just, sovereign and good. He created all things—including us—for His pleasure and glory. He made us in His image so that we might worship and reflect Him. We glorify Him most when we find our joy and satisfaction in Him. God was our Father walking among us, giving us everything we needed to live, and yet we chose to sin against Him (Genesis 2:7-18, Psalm 34, 1 Corinthians 10:31).
In our sin we have rebelled against our Creator. This is cosmic treason. It began with the first man, Adam, and subsequently, all of mankind has fallen headlong into sin. We became separated from God and deserving of His holy wrath. God cursed Adam with death and with the removal of His Spirit, a penalty that has been passed on to his future descendants. Simply “doing better” will not fix the damage caused by our sin. This repair cannot come from the inside and must come from the outside (Genesis 3; John 3:36; Romans 3:10-23, 5:12-23, 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-4).
Despite our pride and ignorance, Jesus—who created the world and is God—lovingly came into human history as a man. He lived the perfect life that we should have lived and died the death that we should have died, in order to redeem us from the wrath of God and the slavery of our sin. He bore the wrath reserved for our sin, and in being raised to new life, He caused us to share in it. The good news is that, through Jesus, we can experience a divine rescue, a complete deliverance—not advice, not a moral improvement program (John 1:14; Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:12; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:4-10).
For all those who trust in Jesus alone, God has also promised He will restore everything to the way it was supposed to be. The new heaven and new earth will be free of sin and selfishness—a place of perfect relationship with God, others, and creation. There will be no more pain, no more sickness, and no more death. It will once again be the perfect home God intended for His creation. God’s original purpose will flourish as those who trust in His redemption worship Him by finding our joy and satisfaction in Him forever (Revelation 20-22).
The only saving and sanctifying response to the Gospel is repentance and belief. We must daily turn from our sin and turn to God by faith in Christ. We must believe in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of our sins and reconciliation to God. Through Jesus, we have also been reconciled to one another. God saves us, not simply as individuals, but into a family—the Church. We are no longer orphans alienated from God and each other, but brothers and sisters in the family of God. Through Christ, we have also received all that we need for life and godliness. As we grow in the grace and truth that He provides, we are transformed into His image, and He causes us to bear the fruit of His righteousness (Mark 1:15; Luke 3:7-9; John 3:16-17, 20:31; Galatians 5:17-25; Ephesians 2:11-22).
When we read the Scriptures as a story, we come to know the reason for salvation–the gospel’s purpose:
Creation: Our God is the Creator of all life! He made us good. He made us in his image so that we can bring glory to Him through our lives (Genesis 1-2). This is the natural order of things.
Fall: The bad news is that family dysfunction has entered into our world because of sin. We are all sinful—adults and children alike—and we are all need God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). The gospel tells us that we are worse than we ever imagined… the good news becomes great news in light of the bad news.
Redemption: But the gospel also tells us that we are more loved than we could ever dream (Galatians 2:20). The gospel promises us forgiveness from sin and new life in Jesus Christ. The good news is that God sent his Son to redeem the world and create a new humanity.
Restoration: Jesus makes all things new. Eventually the whole world will be renewed. Death, decay, injustice, and suffering will all be removed (Ephesians 2:10, 14-22; 2 Corinthians 5:15-21; Revelation 21). The gospel is not about my individual happiness or God’s plan for my life. It is about God’s plan for the world. We pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” One day all dysfunction will be wiped and away and God’s perfect creation will be restored.