Getting the gospel right is critical. The word “gospel” comes from the Greek word euangelion, which literally means “good news”. It is good news because it contains the message of God’s salvation to sinful man. It contains the declaration of deliverance from sin. If we are going to get the gospel right, it is essential that we understand the necessary components of the gospel message.
A Right Understanding of God
Who is God? God is the creator of the “heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), He makes everything in the universe work (Neh. 9:6), and He rules over the entire universe (Psalm 115:3). The Bible says that there is one God (Is. 44:6). Though there is only one God, He exists in three Persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14). God is holy in all His perfections () and all humanity owes Him their complete love and obedience.
A Right Understanding of Sin
Sin is any thought or act that does not conform to the Word of God. To sin is to miss the mark of God’s standard and it is the committing of an actual transgression. Every person is a sinner (Rom. 3:23) and every person must be judged and punished by God (Rev. 20:11-15).
A Right Understanding of Man
All people are made in the likeness of God (James 3:9), however this similitude has been marred by sin. All people are sinful (Rom. 3:23) and dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). For this reason, we are estranged from God (Eph. 2:12, 4:18; Col. 1:21) and in need of reconciliation. In our sinful condition we are unable in and of ourselves to earn or obtain salvation. We are in need of a righteousness outside of ourselves (Phil. 3:9).
A Right Understanding of Christ
Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God (Micah 5:1-2; John 1:1; 8:58). At the Divinely appointed time in history, He was sent into the world “born of woman, born under the law” (Gal. 4:4) so as to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). Jesus Christ is without sin and was a substitute for sinners (2 Cor. 5:21).
A Right Understanding of the Cross
The cross has become a religious symbol for many. Sadly, this is only a symbol and a religious add-on to their lives. We need to know and remember that there is a deep and profound meaning when we think of the cross of Christ. In the first century the cross was the place where painful and gruesome public execution occurred. The horrific event of the Lord Jesus Christ being crucified on the cross was not an event that captured the Lord by surprise (Acts 2:23). At the cross the Lord Jesus Christ suffered for sins as a substitute for sinners (1 Pet. 3:18). This is how salvation for sinners was secured.
A Right Understanding of Grace
On what basis does God save sinners? The glorious gift of salvation comes to the sinner by grace (Eph. 2:8). Grace is the undeserved gift of God’s favour and goodness in providing salvation. Such grace is truly amazing.
A Right Understanding of Repentance
Repentance is something that is ignored or redefined by many when it comes to preaching the gospel. Despite such practices, the Word of God remains clear. Repentance was a part of Christ’s preaching (Mark 1:14-15; Luke 13:3) and the apostolic preaching (Acts 3:19; 17:30). Repentance refers to the God given ability to recognise our sin, to detest it and turn from it as we embrace Christ in faith.
A Right Understanding of Faith
Saving faith does not trust in or rely on one’s own achievements; instead, the object of trust and reliance is the Lord Jesus Christ. Genuine saving faith is the recognition that we have nothing to offer God in-order to be forgiven of our sin and be saved. Faith is God’s appointed means in-order for us to receive salvation. Therefore, faith is coming to God on the grounds of grace – having nothing to offer – and trusting and adhering to Christ as Lord.
A Right Understanding of Works
We cannot be saved by means of our works. In fact, our best works in the sight of God are filthy rags (cf. Is. 64:6). The only works that save a sinner are the works of Jesus Christ. But once an individual embraces the gospel (by faith in Jesus Christ) their life will be followed by works (Eph. 2:10). These works are the natural outflow of the child of God. In the words of Martin Luther, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”