Now, brothers and sisters, 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… (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
What is the Gospel?
The word Gospel means “good news”. The main topic of the Bible is the gospel, or good news, about the works and the person of Jesus. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul provides a synthesis of the gospel: Jesus is God, or Christ, who died in a cross instead of us, paying the price for our sins; three days later He resurrected to conquer sin and death, and to give salvation and eternal life to every single person that believes in Him.
The great reformer Martin Luther said correctly that, as sinners, there are two ways to continue a relationship with God (mutually contradictory). The first is religion/spirituality and the second is the Gospel.
- Religion tells me that if I obey God, He is going to love me. The Gospel tells me that God loved me through Jesus and now I can obey him.
- Religion tells me that the world is full of good people and bad people. The Gospel tells me that the world is full of bad people, of whom some repent and others do not.
- Religion tells me that I must rely on what I do as a moral person. The Gospel tells me that I must rely on the perfect and unspotted life of Jesus because only He is the only truly moral person that will exist.
- Religion aims to obtain God’s things such as: health, prosperity, understanding, power and control. The goal of the Gospel is not the gifts that God gives me, but that I can make it to God through his grace.
- Religion is about what I should have to do. The Gospel is about what I can achieve.
- Religion sees test as a punishment of God. The Gospel sees test as a process of sanctification that reminds me of the sacrifice of Jesus for me, and is used by God, in love, to make me more like Jesus.
- Religion is about me. The Gospel is about Jesus.
- Religion leads me to an uncertainty on my position before God, because I never know if I have done enough to please God. The Gospel leads me to a certainty about my position before God because Jesus has already done the work for me on the cross.
- Religion ends up in pride (because I think I’m better than others) or disappointment (because it will always fail in fulfilling the commandments of God). The Gospel ends in humility and joy because the power of Jesus works in me, by me, for me, through me and despite me sometimes.