What is the Gospel?

In the passage below, Paul lays out clearly what Christians mean by the gospel.  Gospel means “Good News”.  Why would talk about Jesus’ death be in any way good?  I often wondered why Good Friday was called ‘Good’.  I have acepted that Jesus died for a good reason, to bring us back.  Like the apostle Paul, we are born corrupt to the core.  The apostle Paul’s corruption showed as he killed people.  I have seen my own heart of darkness when I check my motives even in doing good things.

Our sin is worthy of death.  Not a quick bullet to the head, but a tortuous death.  This doesn’t immediately make sense unless you understand the holiness and perfection of God.  In the light of unspeakable holiness our smallest sin is an unimaginable horror.  The horror of our sin is what Jesus took upon himself at the cross.

However, like Aslan in The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, Jesus came back from the dead and was raised to a new life.  This story is the greatest ever told and is repeated in many stories where a Messiah figure passes through death to save his or her friends.  Think of Harry Potter in the last book, think of Gandalf and the Balrog.  Jesus not only takes the just punishment for our heart of darkness, but he is raised into a new life.  He gives us the chance to share with him in his life of light.  The fact that he rose was attested to by multiple witnesses.

We, like the Corinthians Paul is writing to, must choose to follow Jesus Christ in the new life that he makes available to us.  Although it is a choice made in an instant, the consequences of choosing to follow must last a lifetime.  The life of a Christian is not an easy one, but it is a life where the sin and the imperfections that we carry are ripped away year by year confirming the reality of the life we have received from Jesus.

Do you know the gospel?  Have you received it?  Do you walk in it?  Can you communicate it?

1 Corinthians 15: 1-11

 1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

 3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6After 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. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

 9For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.


  1. In verse 1, what three things does Paul say are true about the gospel?
  2. Who were witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection?
  3. Why would the Corinthians need to be reminded of the gospel?
  4. Why do you need to be reminded of the gospel?
  5. How can you spread the good news?

Going Deeper

Each person has a testimony.  It is a story of how the gospel works out in each person’s life.  Here is mine:

I was born into a household where my mother was seeking God and my father was not.  At age 8 an old woman in our church, Mrs. Leonard, gave me a worksheet asking if I was a Christian.  My mother explained what that meant and I decided that I should become one.  I started a journey that day with Jesus that I have continued to this day.

I thought that God was in my life to make it better:  better in ways that I would define: comfortable, stable, self-assured.  I had a united home, loving family, food on the table and a fairly rigorous moral code.  I thought that I was better for all these things.  However, God has shown me over the years that the life of a Christian is about an ever deepening relationship with Him.

This means that he has taken me through some times when things that are very dear to me have been ripped away.  There are times when I had doubts I couldn’t answer, but God drew me on.  There are times when it seemed that I was all alone in the world, but God drew me on.  Right now, I have endured a number of pressures over the past two years.  I have become anxious and a little depressed.  But in all of this I see the hand of God.  The anxiety highlights some deep seated fears and wrong beliefs that God wants to heal and remove.  Like a surgeon he cuts deeper to remove my imperfections.  By his mercy I still endure.  By his grace I will walk stronger and more resolute. 

In my life, this is the gospel.  What is the good news in you?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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