What Is the Gospel?

    I’ve been planning this article about the Gospel for a few weeks, thinking about how to address a question that often confuses adults. I mean, it’s the Gospel! It’s the whole message of our faith. What if it’s too complicated, or worse, what if I forget something?

    So imagine my surprise when I was at an event with our students on September 28 and the speaker talked about this very subject! Isn’t God cool? The Holy Spirit knew I was struggling with this, but He already had a plan in place to help me.

    Girls, as humans, we think too much. I was making the Gospel more complicated than it needs to be. The truth is the Gospel is so simple that its message can be contained in a single verse. That single verse is John 3:16. That’s where you’ll find the Gospel—the whole thing.

    Is anyone besides me having a “mustard seed moment”? Something so profound has been written in a little 27-word verse. Doesn’t that seem too small to contain the essentials of something as radically life-changing as the Gospel? Well, that’s the wonder of God. He can take something so earth-shattering and make it small and simple for us to understand.

    For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. —John 3:16 (NIV)

    Jesus said we should have a childlike faith (Mark 10:13-16). Find a five-year-old and ask her what “the world” means or who’s part of the world. Her answers will be “everything” and “everyone.”

    So let’s break this down into one childlike bite at a time:

    • “For God” – That’s THE God, okay? He measures the universe with the span of his hand (Isaiah 40:12). Stretch your index finger away from your thumb as if you’re measuring something. That’s all God has to do to measure the entire universe! We don’t even know how big our universe is, but God can measure the whole thing in His hand. He’s that big.
    • “So loved” – I heard the best thing about love at the event I mentioned earlier. The speaker said, “Love has nothing to do with emotion.” That’s true! If it wasn’t, then God would’ve destroyed the universe ages ago. Love is an act of will, not of emotion. God chooses to love us. He wasn’t created; He has always existed, and He created us not because He needed us (God doesn’t need anything), but because He wanted us.
    • “The world” – As we’ve already discussed, the world means everything and everyone on this piece of spinning blue and green in the galaxy. Does God care about your dog? Yes! Birds? Yep! You? Of course! The Bible says He cares about His creation, the whole thing (Psalm 145:15-17)! If it hangs onto this planet, then God loves it.
    • “He gave” – God gives freely. He didn’t sell His Son and He isn’t offering you salvation at a discounted price. He gives freely (Romans 6:23). When you love someone, you give freely. That’s what love is—giving freely of yourself and everything you have. That’s what God did.
    • “His only Son” – He gave His only Son. That’s the fullness of all God is, crammed into a fleshly body like yours or mine that gets hurt and sick, hungry and tired. The God of the universe subjected Himself to that on purpose for you, for me, for every person you know. Yes, even the ones you don’t like, because you might not like them, but God does; He loves them.
    • “Whoever believes” – That’s everyone who believes in their heart that Jesus came as the fullness of God in human form, born to a virgin, lived, was crucified and rose again by the power of God’s Spirit on the third day. You have to do more than “understand it”—you have to believe it.
    • “In Him shall not perish” – Once you believe and confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10; “lord” means “master”), then you’re “in Christ,” your sins covered by His blood. The spirit of anyone who’s in Christ will never die, though our fleshy bodies will still decay. God will give us new bodies (2 Cor. 5:1-10)!
    • “But have eternal life” – We’ll never be separated from God (Romans 8:38-39). Our spirits will exist with Him eternally, unbound by time, space or distance. No more pain, no more sadness, no more fear. God and us–that’s complete joy, eternally.

    That’s the Gospel message. That’s the point of the whole Bible. I encourage you to study it, memorize it, know it when someone asks.

    Next week, we’ll talk about starting faith conversations with others.

    Girls, does this help you understand the Gospel message better?

    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 6:23

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    Jenn Arman
    Jenn Arman is a youth pastor, freelance writer and blogger. She was born in San Diego, California and raised 2 hours north east in the Inland Empire where she lives with her husband David and their cats. Jenn desires to bring glory to God and a healthy dose of reality to Christians through both writing and preaching. Visit for more on her work. You can also connect with her on and


    1. Oh Jenn, thank you.

      I’m starting a ministry, and bible study at my school and my, oh, my I just…wow. I am ashamed to say I don’t know where to begin. I just feel so called to do this, and God has been telling me that with his help I CAN do it, and he’ll be by my side to fill me with his strength and love along the way…but starting out sure is hard.

      Prayers would be appreciated in this time. God is always faithful, and I know he will show me the right directions.

      • I will definitely be praying! My encouragement to you is this: Remember that many ministries start out very small. As you begin you may find that some days only 1 or 2 people show up, some days you might be the only one – DON’T GIVE UP! Starting a ministry is very difficult and early on you may find yourself feeling discouraged if there is a lack of progress, don’t worry because it’s during that time that God is opening people’s hearts to what He is doing. Just be faithful and patient. If you are the only one there, be faithful. If only one person shows up for a while, be faithful.

        Think of Jesus’ miracle at Cana (when He turned the water to wine). He didn’t ask the servants to do anything difficult or crazy, all He asked them to do was fill up jars with water, Jesus did the hard part. Your job isn’t to do the miraculous, your job is just to be faithful and fill the jars with water. Let God worry about the rest.

    2. I appreciate the message here, but you’re missing something very vital. Baptism is a very important step in the gospel. Believing does indeed save people, but only because belief requires action.
      In James 2: 19-20: It says “You believe God is one. You do well. For even the DEMONS believe; and tremble! But are you willing to recognize, oh foolish one, that faith without works is dead?”
      Even demons BELIEVE in God. Confessing and acknowledging him does not save you. Being baptized does. That’s the work. Faith and believing him is DEAD unless action is taken. Just believing in God is useless without taking the step to be baptized as stated in Mark 16:16
      “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” AND IS BAPTIZED. That is straight from the bible. It’s a nice idea to think that simply believing will get you to heaven, but following that logic, you must also draw that the demons will be allowed in heaven, considering they believe. Mark says that baptism is necessary to be saved, and opposite means what? He who is not baptized will be condemned.

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