Post Author: Bill Pratt
You would think this question would be pretty easy to answer because the gospel message is something that Christians talk about all the time. However, it is difficult to find the gospel explained in one place within the Bible. There is, however, one passage where the gospel is defined, and that is in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, specifically 1 Cor. 15:1-8. Here it is:
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 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, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Theologian Scot McKnight summarizes some key points from this text in the December issue of Christianity Today. First, “this is the gospel handed on to Paul (v. 3), which suggests it was the gospel the earliest apostles preached.”
“Second, the gospel saves people from their sins (v. 2-3).”
“Third, the essence of the gospel is the story of Jesus (vv. 3-8) as the completion of Israel’s story (v. 3). Both the word Christ (Messiah) and the phrase ‘according to the Scriptures’ are central to how the apostles understood the word gospel.”
So what is the gospel? According to McKnight, “Added together, it means this: The gospel is first and foremost about Jesus. Or, to put it theologically, it’s about Christology. . . . ‘To gospel’ is to tell a story about Jesus as the Messiah, as the Lord, as the Son of God, as the Savior.”
Gary Habermas often summarizes these verses in this way: the gospel is the deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
If you’ve overlooked these verses in the past, go back and study them. After all, we need to constantly remind ourselves of the message we are to give the world.