The Bible frequently mentions “the gospel” (which means “good news”).
This gospel is called “of first importance,” (1 Cor. 15:3), and any deviation from this true gospel brings “eternal condemnation” (Gal. 1:8).
At the heart of the true gospel outlined in Scripture is the concept of reconciliation. Consider:
- “God…through Christ reconciled us to himself…in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them…be reconciled to God….he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:18-21)
- “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10)
- “You, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith…not shifting from the hope of the gospel.” (Colossians 1:21-23)
The Gospel = How to be reconciled
More specifically, this reconciliation between a holy God and sinful people (that’s you and me), happens by:
- Taking on human flesh and living a righteous life in Jesus (1 Peter 1:19)
- Dying for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3)
- Being raised from the dead the third day (1 Cor. 15:4)
- Repent (turn in submission to Jesus as Lord) – Luke 13:1-5; Acts 2:38
- Believe (trust in the Person and Work of Christ seen above) – John 3:16; Acts 16:31
When such a reconciliation happens, God lives in us via his Holy Spirit, and our life is forever changed (Eph. 1:13; 2 Cor. 5:17).
The Old Testament Focuses on the Gospel
Believe it or not, the 39 books of the Old Testament (written between 1500-400 BC) supernaturally focus on the event of the gospel that would later be fulfilled in Christ.
This is why Jesus, Paul, and the N.T. can point people back to the Old Testament Scriptures in understanding the gospel:
- “He [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself [especially his death and resurrection, in this context].” (Luke 24:27)
- “He [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations,'” (Luke 24:46-47)
- “Paul…set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures” (Rom. 1:1-2)
- “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures…he was buried…he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
The Old Testament points to the Gospel:
- By direct prophecy (e.g. Isaiah 53)
- By types and shadows (e.g. Matt. 12:40)
- By contrasts (e.g. Heb. 10:11-12)
- At the beginning the gospel is seen:
- consider Adam “sleeping” while his side was pierced in order to form a bride–Eph. 5:31-32;
- or the need for Adam and Eve to be clothed with the life of another to live amidst God–Gen. 3:21;
- or even the fact that the curse of thorns and sweat were literally placed on Jesus’ head during his crucifixion–Gen. 3:18-19; Matt. 27:29; Luke 22:44
- At the end of the Old Testament the gospel is seen:
- where the day of God’s coming judgement and restoration is preceded by a messenger who brings repentance (Mal. 3-4; Luke 1)
- And all in the middle the gospel is seen:
- Exodus 12 – Passover
- Leviticus 16 – Day of Atonement
- Ruth – A king to come that redeems Gentiles
- Isaiah 53-54 – Suffering and Resurrected Servant
- Amos 8 – a day of judgment where Noon becomes dark, an only Son is killed; a festival takes place
- Micah 5:2 – a Messiah would be born in Bethlehem
The Gospels Point to the Gospel
I guess the name says it all, but it should still be stated that the 4 gospels focus on–you guessed it–the gospel.
I have heard it said that it takes 9 hours of audio to read through all 4 gospels at an average pace. And 4.5 of those hours focus exclusively on the final week of Jesus (where He dies and resurrects–you know, part of God’s work in reconciling us through the gospel).
Thus the gospels pretty evenly focus on:
- The Person of Jesus
- The Death and Resurrection of Jesus
This is precisely God’s part of the reconciliation process mentioned above.
Further, the gospels have constant refrains for the people to “repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Thus these 4 books also point to the human response to God’s reconciling work, as well as the corresponding change it produces when we are reconciled to him (Luke 7:47; Matt. 25:31-46; etc.)
The Rest of the New Testament Point back to the Gospel
Further still, we have the remainder of the New Testament pointing back to the event of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection at the start of a good chunk of the books:
- Acts shows the first 30 years of the church proclaiming the gospel and living it out
- Romans spends 11 chapters fleshing out the gospel…this is written to Christians!
- Galatians is written specifically to clarify the gospel…again, this is written to Christians!
- Ephesians and Colossians follow similar structures in beginning their books by declaring the complete work of the gospel, then showing how that should be the basis for their Christian living (see below)
The 2 Church Institutions Point to the Gospel
If it wasn’t enough to show how the ENTIRE BIBLE revolves around the gospel, I’d only add the fact that the church is called to 2 practices/institutions:
- baptism (Matt. 28:18-20)
- communion (1 Cor. 11)
Baptism is us actively demonstrating our union in the gospel by being buried in the waters of baptism and coming up with Christ symbolically as a new life (Rom. 6).
And communion is an ongoing activity the church practices where we call to mind the redeeming work of Christ’s death and resurrection (the fulcrum of the gospel).
By now, please tell me you can see that God wants all attention here.
The Gospel as Foundation and Hub of all Christian Activity
Finally, in instructing the church how to live, God continues to base things on the gospel FIRST. And only from that realization can we faithfully walk in Christ.
How should we be faithful in marriage? Look to how Christ died, served, and faithfully leads His church (Eph. 5)
Why should we give to the poor? Look how Jesus who was rich in life and Spirit became a man who died a humble death on the cross to make us who were poor rich (2 Cor. 8-9). In his denial of self in the gospel, we can be encouraged to do likewise.
What should we do when we are treated unjustly? Look to how Jesus entrusted himself to God and silently suffered in the gospel (1 Peter 2)
What should we do when we see others treated unjustly? Consider the mercy we’ve been shown, and do likewise (Luke 10:25-37)
How can we forgive others who have wronged us? Consider how much we were forgiven in Christ in the gospel, and do likewise (Matt 18:21-35)
How can we love others best? Consider how much we were forgiven in Christ in the gospel (Luke 7:47)
You see a theme here?
In fact, consider how Romans 12 (all the life application stuff) begins: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies…” (Rom. 12:1). In other words, in light of all the gospel exposition in Romans 1-11…with all of that as a focus…only now can you live out faithful Christianity.
Not only is the gospel the hub and foundation of the Bible, but it also is meant to be the hub and foundation of all Christian living. Anyone who treats it less, has completely missed the point.