What is the Gospel?
The gospel is the world's most powerful message. This message is able to grip the hearts of the world's most wicked men and utterly transform them. It is a message so powerful that rulers of kingdoms and religious systems have fought fiercely to completely eradicate it from the globe. The message of the gospel has wrecked the lives of myriads of people (for the good) as they were transferred from darkness into God's marvelous light. Though the gospel is so powerful and has impacted the world for thousands of years, few people—even in Christianized nations—truly know the gospel and its implications.
Though millions of pages could be written about the gospel, it can be succinctly stated from many passages in scripture. Believing the gospel is required for salvation, and knowing the gospel is essential for fulfilling the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Have you believed the gospel? If not, keep reading. Do you know the gospel enough to share it? If not, keep reading. Do you need the gospel in your life daily? Yes, you do, so keep reading. Titus 3:1–7—one of my most favorite passages in all of the scripture—presents 4 aspects of the gospel. The gospel can be summed up four words: God, man, Christ, response.
God is the all-powerful and all-authoritative Creator of the universe. He demands that all live in light of that reality. He is the upholder of the universe, and in Him we live, move, and have our being. Though this truth is not explicitly laid out in the passage, we can see it in the authoritative commands laid out in verses 1–2. The apostle Paul—one of God’s chosen and inspired authors— wrote these commands with no less force than the 10 commandments because "all Scripture is breathed out by God" (2 Tim 3:16). Every human being is called to honor and submit to God as holy and glorious through obedience and worship. Everything in all of creation was created for the purpose of worshiping God. In the case of Titus 3, God is glorified through our obedience to civil authorities and our fruitful good works toward others. Submission to earthly authorities exemplifies our faith and submission to God's ultimate authority.
There is one problem. In our sinful state, we don’t want anything to do with God or His commands. Look at verse 3, “For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another”. There is nothing about that us that is pleasing to God apart from Christ. We were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26–27), but sin entered humanity in Genesis 3when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Since then, every intention of the thoughts of our hearts is only evil continually (Genesis 6:5, Romans 3:9–20). We see this in ourselves and everyone else as we look at Titus 3:5. Foolishness, disobedience, addiction, hatred, etc. are characteristics that we despise in ourselves and others because they reflect the worst about us. We are not as bad as we could be because God graciously restrains our sin, but we really are bad people. We really are evil people. We really are enemies of God. Because of this, we are all destined for eternal death in hell because, “In Adam all die” (1 Cor. 15:22, Romans 5:12–14).
Without a remedy, we are all left hopeless and helpless. But God didn’t leave us in our sinful state to work our way back to Him. He also didn't leave us to face our much deserved eternal punishment without a Savior. Look at Verses 4–5b: "But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy...” This is glorious! Christ is at the heart of salvation! When Christ appeared, He saved! He saved according to His own mercy! He did the good works and became righteousness for His people because they aren’t able to meet the requirements of the law (Romans 8:4, 2 Cor 5:21). Jesus’ goodness is transferred into their accounts because He took the full wrath of God as their substitute (see Romans 4 for further study). This is often called "The Great Exchange". How did Christ achieve all of this? He laid down His sinless life by submitting to death on a cross to pay for the sins of all who would believe in Him (John 10:17–18, Phil 2:8). He rose from the grave with power after three days (Romans 1:14, 1 Cor. 15:4). Finally, He ascended to sit at the right hand of His Father and prepare a place for His sheep until He returns (Col 3:1–2, John 14:3). Christ is the remedy for our broken relationship with God! But how do you apply this message to your life?
Throughout the scriptures, especially in the New Testament, we see the call to repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15, Matthew 3:2, Acts 17:30–31). The gospel is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16), and it is a message that demands a response from us. We have two options, we can either believe the gospel (more than a mental assent to the facts) or we can reject the gospel. Belief in the gospel means a life that trusts and rests in Christ’s finished work for our righteousness and salvation. Every person in the universe is accountable to respond in faith to the call of the gospel. Notice the language in Titus 3:5b–6 that salvation is through Christ and also “by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” In our choice to believe, God is at work. He draws us to Christ (John 6:44). He gives us the new birth and eyes to see the kingdom of God (John 3:1–15). He places His Spirit in us and causes us to walk in obedience and repentance. This is the power that enables us to respond to the gospel (Ezekiel 36:25–27)! This power also carries us through the process of sanctification so that we may become a holy and blameless bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:27)!
How will you respond?
Now that you’ve heard the gospel message in it’s fullness, it is vital that you search yourself to see if you are believing and resting in this powerful message. Has your life been ruined by sin and death? Have you submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ? Have you moved from death to life? If you haven’t, read and reread the numerous passages of scripture found in this post. The gospel is not a message to put off until later. Sin is deceitful and it only leads to death. Christ is glorious, and faith in Him leads to eternal joy and fellowship with Him for eternity! There is nothing more necessary for your soul than to rest in the work of Christ so your relationship with God can be restored!