What is the Gospel?

The message of Jesus is often called “the Gospel”. The word “Gospel” literally means “joyful news”. Many people see Christianity as a set of traditions or a moral code of conduct. They think Christianity means behaving well in order to earn God’s love, favor and entrance to heaven. But that is not joyful news! In fact, it’s horrible news. And it’s not true Christianity.

The Bible says that God created mankind in His own image. (Gen. 1:26) Human beings were perfect, filled with love and joy in friendship with God. But mankind sinned against God. They trusted something else more than God. That’s the essence of sin. The Bible says that Eve believed Satan’s lie that if she would eat the forbidden fruit, she would be like God. But she had forgotten: she already was like God! She had been made in His image. The lie of the devil is that people can do something to add to their own righteousness. In essence, this is the lie of religion: that we can do something, anything, to gain God’s favor.

Because mankind chose to trust themselves and doubted the goodness and love of God, they were cut off from joy and love and life in relationship with our Maker. Sin entered into the human race and spread to all people. Because of our sin, we were given over to death, and our souls and bodies began to rot and die. (Rom 5:12)

But God loved us too much to leave us in sin and death. He had a plan to save us. God gave the Law to mankind, not so we could try to earn our way back to God, but to see clearly that we could not. God never intended for us to earn His approval through keeping the Law, but for us to see through the Law that we need His love as a free gift. (Rom. 3:19-20) That free gift of God’s love is called grace.

But God did not just send rules or a philosophy. God Himself came to save us. God knew we could never reach heaven, so heaven came down to us. Jesus Christ was born. He was and is God in the flesh: fully man and fully God. He lived the perfect, sinless life we never could and then died the death we deserved. The Bible says that Jesus “who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21) As Jesus hung on the Cross, He took upon Himself the result of our sin: death, the righteous wrath of God against sin, and separation from God the Father. These things are the essence of hell: death, wrath and separation from God. His last cry on the Cross was, “It is finished!” By His death He has paid for our sin. He took our punishment. He tasted hell for us on the Cross so we would never have to. He accomplished our salvation.

But Jesus did not stay dead. Three days later He rose from the dead, victorious over sin, Satan, death and hell. He has paid for our sin and defeated our greatest enemies. We deserve death on the Cross, but He took the Cross for us. On the Cross the Beloved Son of God, Jesus, became cursed for us, that we who are under the curse of sin might become beloved children of God. We need this sacrifice of Christ to pay for our sins and give us His righteousness. The Bible says that if in humility we will confess this, we will be saved and live forever with Him in love and joy. There is nothing we can do or add to the work of Christ to make this the case. We must reject the lie that Satan told in the beginning that we can do anything to add to God’s work to make us perfect. We simply need to receive the news by faith and rejoice!

Truly this is the most joyful news. But realize that if you have never received this news by faith, you are not a Christian. You might be religious, might have tradition, but you are not saved. Religion says you need to do something to earn God’s favor. The Gospel says God has done everything to give you His favor by grace. Religion says that you can never be sure of God’s love and you have to work harder. The Gospel is the assurance that God loves and accepts you because of Jesus’ work for you. Religion tries to use God to get things from Him. The Gospel says that God Himself is the greatest treasure and that He has given Himself to us. Religion is about pride and self-righteousness and creates people who condemn others. The Gospel is about humbling yourself before God and receiving His righteousness as a gift, and that creates people who treat others with grace. Religion is a moral system. The Gospel is life-changing, joy-flooded news.

There is nothing you can do to earn God’s forgiveness. We deserve condemnation for our sin. But if you see your sin and desire to receive God’s forgiveness, the gift of eternal life as a child of God, the Bible says that this very desire is the work of God’s Spirit in your heart. Open your heart to Him today and receive that joyful news. Allow God to bring you back into His family and make you His child through the gift of His grace. You can pray right now and ask God to do this. Prayer is not a formula, but simply talking to God from the heart. So you can pray in your own words or along the lines of the following prayer:

“Dear Lord, I confess that I’m a sinner. I can’t earn Your love. I deserve hell. But I believe that You died on the Cross in my place. I believe that You were condemned for my sin so that I could be forgiven. I believe that You rose again and defeated sin, death and hell. Come into my life and be my Savior. I desire to follow You and know You as my greatest treasure. Thank You that You have done everything for my salvation. Fill me with Your Spirit and help me to grow in grace and knowing You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

If you have believed in Jesus and asked Him to save you, you are a child of God! He has given you new, eternal life! This is what the Bible calls being “born again”. (Jn. 3:3) It is His gift!

So now what? The Gospel of grace is not simply the first step in the Christian life. It is the foundation of the whole Christian life! It is important to constantly renew our heart in this joyful news, because our sinful tendency is to return to religion and trying to earn God’s favor. God has given us His Word, the Bible, to continually orient our hearts to the Gospel. Therefore, it’s important to read the Bible regularly. Also, God has given us prayer, community in the church, and other means for us to enjoy Him and be rooted in grace. Again, it’s important to do these things not to earn His favor but to be reminded that you already have it! We’d suggest that you start by listening to the vision of our church, and any of our other Bible studies on topics you’re interested in. Also, pray and ask God to lead you to a church that teaches the Word of God and the Gospel of grace. You can check this listing for Calvary Chapels in Ukraine and across the whole world.

If you have questions on the Gospel or you prayed to receive the good news through this site, please feel free to write us!