Believe It, then Proclaim It!

Romans 1:15-16

February 11, 2018

Introduction to the Gospel

What is the “Gospel?”  We hear this word used a lot in our Christian lingo.  Do we know what we are saying when we use the word “Gospel?”

It is a word used 96 times in 90 verses in the New Testament and so Christians, at least those who read their Bible, should have at least a limited understanding of the word.  But what is interesting to me is that there seems to be some vagueness about the “Gospel” that is prevalent among Christians.  In the New Testament it is used referring to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel of God, the gospel of the Kingdom, and a few other miscellaneous uses.  But what does this mean, what exactly is the Gospel?  How does it apply to God, Jesus, and the kingdom as it is talked about in Scripture?

We call the first four books of the New Testament the “Gospels.”  In fact, Mark introduces his book by saying it is the gospel.

Mark 1:1

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

But what is the Gospel and what does that have to do with you and me?  Mark 1:1 tells us that what he is about to record for us is the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  So, something about what he is writing is the “Gospel” and somehow it finds its source in Jesus Christ.  It is the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ.

I didn’t count how many times the word gospel is used with the word “proclaim,” but it is a lot.  In fact, the word gospel in its verb form means to announce, preach, teach, or proclaim the content of the gospel.  But even the noun form of the word “Gospel” is often accompanied with a verb that means to preach or proclaim.  Jesus’ ministry was described as that of proclaiming the gospel.

Matthew 4:23

And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

So, Jesus proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom.  Thus, the gospel has something to do with God’s kingdom.  Everywhere Jesus went in Galilee, Jesus proclaimed it.  But the proclamation of the Gospel is not just what Jesus does, His disciples are supposed to do it, and we are supposed to do it throughout the world and over all of time.  In fact, Jesus says the gospel will be proclaimed until the last day.

Matthew 24:14

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

So even up to the end of time, the gospel is proclaimed.  In fact, during the Tribulation period, there will be an angel flying around the globe making sure that everyone has heard, are you ready for it, “the Gospel.”

Revelation 14:6

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.

Jesus tells those who are following him that the gospel is not only something that is proclaimed, but it is something a person needs to believe in also.

Mark 1:14-15

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

In fact, Jesus made it clear in His final instructions to His followers that the gospel is a huge deal.  It is a matter of eternal condemnation.

Mark 16:15-16

And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

So, this is a matter of eternal condemnation or salvation.  So, whatever the Gospel is, it is pretty important stuff.  The Apostle Paul uses the word “gospel” about 75 times in his epistles.  I would encourage you to take a concordance and look up every time it is used.  Paul understood his calling as being a minister of the gospel.

Romans 1:1

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.

He even refers to it as a priestly service of the Gospel.

Romans 15:15-16

But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Because the gospel is used not only in a verb form, which has the idea of proclaiming it, the noun form is used more often and indicates that there must be some kind of content that is specific to the gospel.  What is it that we are first to believe and then proclaim?  What is the content of the Gospel?  What was Jesus saying that was so important that we need to believe and what we believe about it makes a difference in our eternal status with God (condemned or not condemned)?  Let me take a moment to talk about the definition of the word given to us from the Greek lexicons.

Defining the Gospel

The noun and verb forms of what is translated “gospel” in our English Bible is the word εὐαγγέλιον euaggelion {yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on} in the Greek.  Can you say that with me again? 

εὐαγγέλιον euaggelion {yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on}.  

Over the years we learned to pronounce some New Testament Greek words because they have such powerful meaning behind them.  For instance, we not only know how to pronounce the words Ecclesia, Agape, and Koinonia but we know what they mean because from the text of Scripture we find powerful meaning behind them.

~ Ecclesia – church, called out ones

~ Agape – sacrificial, God like love

~ Koinonia – fellowship of the believers

I believe the same is true of the Greek word for “gospel,” εὐαγγέλιον euaggelion {yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on}.  I believe it is worthy of our learning not just how to pronounce it but to define it.

The lexical definition of euanggelion is really pretty straight forward.  It means “GOOD NEWS.”  You say really?  Yes, really.  Euanggelion is good tidings, glad tidings, it is the announcement of good news.  But keep in mind that the good news is almost always in the context of Jesus Christ, God, or the kingdom.

For instance, when Jesus spoke of the euanggelion of the kingdom, the good news of the kingdom, He was speaking of good news concerning a new relationship with mankind.  A community of people who live with Jesus as King in their lives.  That is good news that needs to be proclaimed.

When Paul speaks of the euanggelion of God, the good news of God, He was speaking of good news about the restoration of a broken relationship with God.  To know and understand that we are separated from God, no fellowship with our Creator because of sin but that we can have restoration and sweet communion with the God of the universe is “Good News.”  God loves us and desires to have a relationship with us.  That is the euanggelion of God.

And when Scripture speaks of the euanggelion of Jesus Christ, the good news of Jesus Christ, it is speaking about the good news of sin’s penalty being paid through Christ’s death on the cross.  Jesus is God in flesh, that He took sin’s penalty for you and me.  That is “Good News,” it is the euanggelion of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel is the good news, good tidings, concerning our condemned lives.  But all of this still leaves us kind hanging in midair just a little bit doesn’t it?  What is the content of the message of good news, what is the gospel?  You can talk to many scholars and get slightly different answers to that question.

For instance, this is how John Piper responds to the question.

“What is the gospel?  I’ll put it in a sentence.  The gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over all his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only everlasting joy.  That’s the gospel.”

Dr. Bahnsen gives a seven-point outline to the gospel message.

·       A loving Creator continually blesses us

·       As ungrateful creatures, we rebel against Him

·       Therefore, righteous judgment awaits us all

·       But God has made a Covenant of Grace

·       Christ accomplished salvation for sinners

·       To be saved we must repent and believe

·       Those who are saved lead new lives

A book by J. Mack Stiles, which is a book about evangelism that the Deacons are reading right now, makes the content of the gospel a four-point summary: God, Man, Christ, Response.

~ God is our Creator – holy, loving, and just.

~ Man is made in His image but willfully rebels in sin.

~ Christ is the Son of God and gave His life in death on the cross to pay the penalty for that sin.

~ A response of acknowledging sin, turning in repentance, through faith in Him that results in salvation.

In my mind, there is nothing wrong with these attempts at defining the content of the Gospel message, but what is more important to you and me here today is not what we think the content of the Gospel is but how God wants us to understand the Gospel in our hearts.

The Gospel and Salvation

Can I challenge you this morning to look up each of the verses in the New Testament where the word “Gospel” is used?  It is only 90 verses and it really will not take you as long as you might think.  You will find a powerful emphasis on the ministry and proclamation of the Gospel, but not much about the details of the content of the Gospel.  Why is that?  Is the content not that important?  Well, . . . yes, the content is important because it clearly deals with our salvation.

Ephesians 1:13-14

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

We are talking about a sealed, guaranteed, eternal salvation.  The Gospel is about our eternal destiny, our inheritance.  This is so important that we would be crazy not to talk about it.  That is why dozens of times in the New Testament what is said about the Gospel concerns the proclaiming, teaching, and preaching of the Gospel, the Gospel of salvation.

The Apostle Paul longed to go to Rome to preach the Gospel.  Why?

Romans 1:15-16

So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

The content of the Gospel is simply the good news of salvation to everyone who believes.  Euanggelion, the gospel, is the good news of salvation and that good news is the power God uses to bring salvation to others.  We can try to outline the Gospel, give details about it, and fill it with the content we believe is necessary, but in the end, the good news of the gospel is for the salvation of souls.  The content of the Gospel may differ slightly from person to person, but the outcome is salvation for the one who believes in the Gospel or it is not the Gospel!  It is that simple!

In Galatians chapter one, the Apostle Paul talked about those who preach a “different gospel.”  He said it was a distortion of the Gospel of Christ and that in essence it was contrary to the message of the Gospel that he was preaching.  Paul wanted them to know that the Gospel he received was not of men but through his encounter with Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:11-12

For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel.  For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

The good news of salvation is a message that comes from God.  This is not about us, how we feel, or what experiential, emotional, spiritual moment we have.  I could care less if you feel you are saved.  What does the Bible say about your salvation?

The Gospel Today

Listen, we live in a day and age when easy believe-ism is at its highest.  I talk to many people who say they believe there is a God, they believe that some how He is involved in our world, and that if we just lead a good life He will be pleased with us.  That’s not salvation, thus, that is not the Gospel.  Others seem to think that if they can do more good works in life than bad works that some how they will offset the balances in their favor and that God will accept them.  That is not faith in God and certainly not the Gospel.

Do you see what I am trying to say?  The Gospel is about salvation and if the message of salvation is not in there somewhere, there is no Gospel in what you are saying.

Several weeks ago I talked about sharing your story, your story of salvation.  When you tell your story about how you were saved, that story becomes your gospel message when it clearly proclaims how a person can be saved.  You are giving the “Good News” of salvation through your personal testimony.  You are proclaiming the Gospel.

This is exactly what the Apostle Paul did as he traveled the world starting churches, this is what Peter and the other disciples did as they saw thousands saved.  They were sharing their story of salvation which is the Gospel message.  Each story had some differences in how it came to pass, yet each story had the same message of salvation.

I think what we struggle with is that we don’t know how it is we are saved or, I can I be honest here, even if we are saved.  How on earth can we give the Gospel message to someone we care about if we are not saved?  If you are saved, you should easily and clearly be able to tell me or anyone else for that matter, how it is that you got saved.  If you can’t, then I would question whether you are saved or not.  You might be saying, “Whoa, Pastor Mike, that is a pretty tough judgment call on your part,” and I would have to say, “You’re right.”

If I were to walk up to you right this moment and ask you to tell me about how you were saved, would it just flow off your lips in excitement or would your mind be going full speed to figure out what you think I believe is the right answer?  Maybe you would even have to make something up because you would certainly want me to think you are saved!  Listen, what I think about your salvation is of no eternal consequence.  Whether you think, no, let me rephrase that, whether you know you are saved is what is important.

And to take it one step further, if you are saved and understand the Gospel of salvation and have no desire to proclaim it to others, there is something missing.  Maybe you need to be saved!

The Good News of Jesus Christ, the Gospel, involves you and me coming to an understanding of our total depravity as a sinner separated from a God who loves us.  A God who designed us for fellowship with Him.  We need to realize that we are hopelessly and eternally condemned to a place of torment.  If you have not come to a place of understanding your depravity, what exactly are you saved from?

We need to realize that it is only by God’s mercy and grace that we have heard about Jesus and put our faith in the saving redemption of Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross of Calvary to save us from our sins.  God who cannot die, became a human being in the form of a baby simply so He can live a perfect life and die for our sin.  That is the only way anyone can be saved.  If you do not believe that, you are not saved!

When we have come to a point of understanding our depravity, knowing and understanding what Jesus did for us on the cross of Calvary, then there must be a response to the invitation God extends to accept or reject His free gift.  This is the faith part we talk about all the time.  When we come to a point of trusting God with our lives and our eternal destiny.  This is more than just knowing the facts.  What does God expect us to do with this information that Jesus died in our place so we can be saved from God’s righteous wrath against our sins?  He expects us to respond with repentance and faith.  If you have never responded to the saving grace of Jesus Christ in faith, you are not saved.

** Parachute Illustration

My Testimony

I grew up in a Christian home, went to church three times on Sunday, Wednesday night youth group and later prayer meeting.  I knew much of the Bible through Sunday School, youth rallies, and camp.  But I never made the connection to me personally.  My parents were Christians and maybe I just thought that being right with God flowed down from them.  I’m not sure what I thought.

But on June 28th, 1970, I saw a comic book style tract on the lampstand in our living room and as I began to read it, my understanding became open to the fact that my sinful life not only kept me from God, but it condemned me to eternity separated from Him in a place of torment.  And worse yet, there was nothing I could do about it.

I became convicted at that very moment of the guilt of my sin, even some of the sins I had committed that very day.  As I continued to read about Jesus Christ and how His death paid for that sin, things that I have already heard many times, suddenly it all began to make sense to me.  Jesus died for me!  For my sin!  I prayed a believer’s prayer.  I repented of my sin, asking in faith for His forgiveness, and for His help to live for Him.

I don’t remember telling my parents about it, but I knew that every Sunday our Pastor had an invitation at the end of the service to come forward for salvation and so the next Sunday I did just that.  He talked with me and found that I not only understood what it means to be saved, but that I believed.  So, we talked about baptism and it was not very many weeks later I was baptized as a sign of my commitment to God.

The point of telling you my testimony is simply this: This is the Gospel, this is the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Good News of God, the Good News of the kingdom.  This is the Good News of salvation.  It is the day I realized my condemned standing before a holy God and the consequences of my sin.  It is the day I repented and by faith accepted Him as my Lord and Savior.  It is the day I received the Gospel as told to me in a simple tract.  It is the day I was saved!  And now it is my responsibility to tell others the euanggelion, the Good News, of salvation.

Listen you may not know the date, you may not remember all the details, but you have not responded to the saving grace of Jesus Christ through faith in Him, you are not saved.  If you are not sure of your salvation, would you receive Him today?