What is the Gospel?

I grew up in the church, so from an early age I learned to respond to that question with, “Good news!” If someone were to follow up with, “What is the good news?” I was trained to say, “Jesus died for our sins.” It was rote memory, not personal experience or victory that produced the responses. I know this because it was more than a decade before I would “accept” this good news for myself.

Jesus died for our sins.

It’s Christianity 101. It’s evangelistically cliche. And it’s mind-blowingly ridiculous.

Jesus–The fullness of God in human form. Holiness wrapped in skin. Creator within creation. Faultless. God with us. Author of life. Prophet. Priest. King. All-knowing, all-powerful, water-walking, dead-raising, lame-healing, demon-ejecting carpenter.

Died–Ceased breathing. Ran out of blood. Body failed. Gave up His spirit. Executed. Tortured. Destroyed. Lifeless.

For–On behalf of. Because of. With a specific purpose.

Our–Yours, mine and theirs collectively. Personal ownership/responsibility.

Sins–Failures. Heinous offenses. Intentional affronts. Irreverent dishonor. Dirty deeds. Arrogant betrayal. Crimes against majesty. Disobedience. Neglect. Deal-breakers. Wrongs. Selfish omissions. Abominations. Blasphemies. Relationship-ending assaults. Refusals. Ignorance. Disregard. Forgetfulness.


It’s also only part of the story. The story began at Creation, when God made man in His image, when He used His very breath to bring life to a lifeless form. And He called it very good. He granted man and woman the freedom to enjoy everything in the garden, save one tree. They walked with God. They talked with God. He provided for them. But that wasn’t enough for them.

They wanted to BE Him. They wanted to know good and evil. So they did. Sin entered Creation, and everything changed.

From that time forward, every person born on this planet has made the same decision. The decision may not have been to eat forbidden fruit. It may not have been phrased as “being like God”, but the motive is always the same. I want to do it my way.

He lets us, and in His mercy He doesn’t kill us on the spot. In fact, He makes sacrifices to cover our shame.

He made Himself human, so He could once again walk with us without compromising His holiness, so He could die. He who is eternal… ceased.

Had the story ended with “Jesus died for our sins,” we would still be hopeless. It is only because Christ conquered death that the gospel is good news, because if He can conquer the ultimate consequence of sin He is more than able to defeat sin itself.

The Resurrection is central to the gospel, then and now. It is the new life that redeems a broken world. It is proof that God has not given up on us, that He wants to restore our relationship, that He will make all things new, that pain will not have the last word.

This Gospel applies to everyday of our lives. It is bigger than conversion, bigger than a decision, bigger than we imagine. The gospel is taking time to see things from God’s perspective, from a vantage point of faultless Truth.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32

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