The word gospel is derived from the Old English godspell (good spell, or morally excellent words having magical power). Gospel represents the translation of the Greek euangelion, a word that originally meant a reward given a messenger for delivering good news, but later became the Good News itself. It is used more than 75 times in the New Testament with the specific connotation of “good news.” This word is the root of our evangelical.
The gospel is often taken to mean the first four books of the New Testament, but this tradition did not develop until the time of the apostolic fathers. In the Biblical context it represents the Good News of the kingdom of God and salvation through Christ. Jesus preached the gospel of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15; cf. Matt. 4:17, 10:7, Lk. 4:43) This is similar to gospel preached by John the Baptist, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2) This gospel of the kingdom of heaven (also referred to as the gospel of God and the gospel of the kingdom of God) was to be preached to the world prior to the consummation of the age: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) The primary importance of the gospel was emphasized by Jesus when He said, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mk. 8:35)
Following His crucifixion, Jesus gave us our great commission: “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Lk. 24:46-47) Paul’s gospel included the basic facts of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:3-4) The gospel of Paul proclaims the redemptive activity of God through the person and work of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is the gospel of salvation (Eph. 1:13), peace (Eph. 6:15), hope (Col. 1:23), life and immortality (2 Tim. 1:10). The gospel is the word of truth (Col. 1:5) that is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. (Rom. 1:16) The gospel, as an instrument of the Holy Spirit, has the power to convict (1 Thess. 1:5) and to convert (Col. 1:5-6). Though the gospel must be taught with simplicity (1 Cor. 1:17), reducing the core if its message to two or three elements would be at the expense of other essentials.
a) Atonement (propitiation, reconciliation), a penal substitution, an offering of sacrifice, a price paid (Rom. 5:8-11). The atonement secured the application of:
b) Redemption, the payment of a ransom (Mk. 10:45, Heb. 9:15), “buying back” from the bondage of sin (1 Cor. 6:20, 7:23, Gal. 1:4).
a) We are saved by grace, not by works: Faith alone (Rom. 3:28, 4:5 Gal. 2:16).
b) Confess with the tongue Christ as Lord (Rom. 10:9).
© Copyright 2002 by Larry Orcutt. This tract may be reproduced and distributed freely without permission. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.