What Do You Mean, “The Gospel”?
The word “gospel” actually just means, “good news”. In the Bible, you’ll find four books called “Gospels” – the Gospel according to Matthew, the Gospel according to Mark, the Gospel according to Luke and the Gospel according to John.
For Christians, “the Gospel” is the story of Jesus Christ, but there is a more basic application than that which means you don’t have to read whole books of the Bible to understand what the Gospel really is about. This is the Gospel Message, and if you’re curious about Christianity, it’s what you need to know to help you make a decision to follow Christ.
The Gospel Message
It really is quite simple. The Bible is a very long book, filled with lots of interesting, and sometimes not-so-interesting stuff, and lots of practical advice for living and all that – but you don’t need to know everything in the Bible to understand the gospel message of Jesus Christ. What you need to know is this:
1. God Loves You
Yes, you (and me, and the guy who sat opposite you on the bus a week last Tuesday!). Not only does He love you, but He wants to have a relationship with you, like a Father and child.
2. We’re human, and we sin
Because we’re human, every single one of us has done, said, or thought things that are wrong. The Bible calls those things sins, and sins are the things that actually stop us having that close relationship with God that He wants.
But the good news is…
3. Jesus died to pay the price for our sins
Because He loves us so much, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. Jesus was God incarnate, God as a human. Because of that, even though He knew how it felt to be human, He never actually sinned. He was sinless. So when He died on the cross and suffered so much pain and shame and humiliation, it wasn’t because He had done anything wrong, it was because we had. He paid the price for our sins. If He hadn’t, we would have had to face the full force of God’s anger (and if you don’t have Jesus as your saviour, you still have to face God’s anger – you need to believe in Jesus in order to get His protection). After His death, Jesus was resurrected and later went up to Heaven. He has a gift to offer all those who believe in Him and who repent (genuinely say sorry for and turn away from their sinful ways) – the gift of eternal life. Believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour and you get to live forever in heaven when you die – but you have to make the decision.
And the best bit is…
4. It’s a gift
There’s nothing you can do to earn your place in heaven – the only way in is through belief in Jesus and the repentance of sins. Sometimes that’s called giving your life to Jesus, because it means making a decision to trust Jesus in all areas of your life (faith) and making another decision to turn away from sin and be obedient to Christ (repentance). Together these two aspects are known as salvation – and all who receive the gift of salvation receive the gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
If you think you’re ready to make that decision, there is a simple prayer that you can pray:
Prayer of Salvation
Father, I recognize that I have not lived my life for You up until now, I have been living for myself and that is wrong, I need you in my life; I want You in my life. I acknowledge the completed work of Your Son Jesus Christ in giving His life for me on the cross at Calvary, and I long to receive the forgiveness you have made freely available to me through this sacrifice. Come into my life now, Lord. Take up residence in my heart and be my King, my Lord, and my Saviour. From this day forward, I will no longer be controlled by sin, or the desire to please myself, but I will follow you all the days of my life. Those days are in your hands. I ask this in Jesus’ precious and Holy name. Amen.