What Is the Gospel?
Written by Jenn Arman | October 6, 2013
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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