THE WORD "GOSPEL" MEANS SIMPLY "GOOD NEWS." When Jesus was born into
the world an angel announced to the shepherds in the field, "I bring you
good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people" (Luke
2:10). The coming of the Messiah into the world was truly hailed as
good news by the people of that day and has continued to be held in that
regard by all believers down through the centuries.
The good news of Jesus' coming could not be nearly so meaningful to
us without considering who He was, why He came, and what He did. He
was, of course, God's only begotten Son (Matthew 1:18-20; 3:17; 4:1-6;
17:5; John 1:1-14; etc.). His purpose in coming into the world was for
the salvation of lost sinners (Luke 19:10). The means by which
salvation for sinners was obtained by Him was in his dying on the cross
of Calvary. Paul said that the gospel which he preached was that,
"Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was
buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures
(1 Corinthians 15:3,4; Romans 4:25). So the gospel is the message of
salvation to all "who obey him" (Hebrews 5:9), and it is therefore
called "the gospel of our salvation" (Ephesians 1:13).
FREED FROM SINS
No man could be freed from sins if Christ had not died for our sins
and been raised from the dead. The mere fact that he has done this does
not guarantee universal salvation. It merely makes possible salvation
for all who are willing to meet God's requirements. God wants all to be
saved (2 Peter 3:9), and provides a universal "call" to all to receive
salvation. This is the reason Jesus gave the command to preach the
gospel message to the whole creation, with the promise of salvation to
all who believe and are baptized (Mark 16:15,16).
GOOD NEWS TO THE BELIEVER
Even though the gospel of Christ "is the power of God unto salvation
to everyone that believeth" (Romans 1:16), man is required to "obey" it.
As we have ready mentioned, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he
obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he
became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him"
(Hebrews 5:8,9). Genuine faith in the gospel message will lead to
obedience to it. Failure to obey it indicates a lack of faith. Paul
said, "But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord,
who hath believed our report?" (Romans 10:16). So saving faith is the
faith that leads one to obey the gospel of Christ. Those who fail to do
so will be lost (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
BELIEVE THE GOSPEL AND REPENT
To "obey the gospel of Christ" implies that it contains commands by
Him. The first is true faith in Christ. Jesus said, "If ye believe not
that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). And Paul and
Silas told the jailor in Acts 16:31, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,
and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." The next is to repent or turn
away from sin (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:2). The confession of
Christ before men is the next step (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:9,10), and
is necessary to entitle a person for baptism.
CONFESS AND BE BAPTIZED
The Scriptures tell us that Philip, the evangelist, traveled along
with the Ethiopian eunuch and preached to him the gospel of Christ.
"And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the
eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.
And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both
into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him" (Acts
8:36-38). The last command of the Lord to obtain salvation is a burial
with Christ in baptism and coming forth to walk in newness of life.
Paul wrote, "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into
Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with
him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the
dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness
of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his
death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing
this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might
be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is
dead is freed from sin (Romans 6:3-7). It is at this point that a
person gains the salvation from sin proclaimed in the gospel. In this
same passage Paul wrote, "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves
servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin
unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked,
that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that
form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from
sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" (Romans 6:16-18).
Everyone who has become a Christian through obedience to the first
principles of the gospel should have his "feet shod with the preparation
of the gospel of peace" and continue to walk in the light of the gospel
(Ephesians 6:14). We are told, "But if we walk in the light, as he is
in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of
Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Walking
daily in the light of the gospel will lead to "the hope which is laid up
for you in heaven whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of
the gospel" (Col.1:5).