The “Good News” and the “Bad News”
The word “Gospel” literally means “good news.” It refers to the good news of what God has done in Christ and what it means for all those who trust in Him. The Gospel is essentially the Christian message of salvation.
But “salvation” implies being saved from something. Hence the good news assumes some bad news, in fact some terrible news. And ironically that “bad news” begins with the goodness of God.
God and Man
As our creator, we owe God our existence; He owns us. Correspondingly, He is our rightful judge and we are responsible to Him in every respect.
God rightly demands complete worship and obedience from us. But we fail to do so not only by our disobedience but also by our inaction and even in our very nature, which is fundamentally opposed to God. We call this disposition sinfulness, its resulting thoughts and actions sin, and we call “sinners” those who possess this sinful disposition and commit such sins. This includes all of us.
Because God is entirely good, He punishes sin perfectly. All sin is ultimately against God as our Creator. And since sin against God is incredibly serious, its punishment is unmeasurably severe–eternal.
Christ and Salvation
However, although God was under no obligation to do so, He chose to send Jesus to save sinners from this incredible dilemma.
Being God, Christ was able to successfully accomplish salvation. Having become man, Jesus was able accomplish salvation for men.
Jesus Christ died on the cross to satisfy God’s punishment against sinners. In other words, Christ became the substitute for sinners by taking their punishment upon Himself. In His resurrection Christ triumphed over sin and death (sin’s penalty).
Response–Turning in Faith
Christ accomplished salvation. But the Bible is clear that Christ’s saving work only benefits those who forsake sin and self-reliance and trust in Christ, and Christ alone, for this salvation. On the other hand, the Bible is also clear that those who do not believe are condemned already and are objects of God’s wrath.
This news demands a response. Neutrality is impossible. To be undecided is to reject it.
“We are accountable to the God who created us.
We have sinned against that God and will be judged.
But God has acted in Jesus Christ to save us,
and we take hold of that salvation by repentance from sin and faith in Jesus.”
– Greg Gilbert, What Is the Gospel?