What is the Gospel?

The gospel is not moral conformity, which is religion, nor is it self-discovery, which is secularism. The gospel is something else altogether — a grid through which we see the world. There are three results of the gospel: the restructuring of our hearts, the removal of our sin, and the reversal of our values.”          Rev. Tim Keller

In simple terms the word gospel means "good news." Although good news is seldom what we discover in reading the news, it truly permeates God's revelation in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. It can be summarized under these headings:

God’s Character

The gospel message is a glorious story that begins with God our creator. He alone is our loving, perfect, and holy Creator (Genesis 1:26,27; Psalms 100:3, 145:7; Isaiah 6:3; 1 John 4:16). According to his own good pleasure and freedom, God lovingly created us in his image. He actively sustains us and desires that we reflect, worship and honor him as we are totally dependent upon him.

The Scriptures tell us that God is simultaneously a loving creator and righteous judge (Exodus 34:6,7). God is light, which conveys his pure radiance and holiness. As the holy judge over his creation, God sets the standard for how we should live and serve as the just judge our hearts and actions.

Our Heart’s Problem

Although all humans are created in God's image, our hearts are cold and hard toward God because of sin (Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:23, 5:12). Sin is failing to trust in God and obey what he commands. We try to play God, by running our own lives as if we were self-sufficient and self-made individuals. Furthermore, we try to fight God - by ignoring and violating his law as we try to judge what is best. 

Sin has tremendous power. We face the problem of corruption as sin has not only broken our relationship with God, but it has also polluted our heart and nature. We are not able to rid ourselves from sin's bondage. Sin holds a severe penalty and we deserve death and condemnation (Romans 5:12-19).

Christ’s Finished Work

The gospel message does not leave us with despair and destruction, it also highlights the violent love of God in sending his Son Jesus Christ to die for our sin. The Apostle Paul makes clear in Romans 8:5 - "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Christ alone works as our righteous redeemer - 2 Corinthians 5:21 - "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We cannot free or cleanse ourselves with our own moral determination. God demands perfection, something no human has achieved, except Jesus Christ. When Christ died for his people, he became a sacrifice to satisfy the judgment of God the Father we deserved. As a result, we are able to be credited with Christ’s perfect life. He alone has the power to deliver his people from the penalty and power of sin. 

Christ is the Lord of the universe and holds all authority (Philippians 2:9-11). After his death, Christ rose from the dead, conquering the power of sin and death. Christ ascended into heaven, where he reigns until he returns and brings all things under his rule and restores the whole of earth to glory and beauty.


Not everyone experiences the power, love and freedom found in the gospel - only those who are united to Christ. The proper response to the gospel and our need to be in union with Christ, is captured by the Lord Jesus himself when he proclaims, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). 


The concept of repentance is when we as individuals, acknowledge our sinful ways, ask forgiveness, and turn from sin and self-reliance. 


For us to “believe” is to turn from our self-reliance and sin then place our trust in Jesus Christ’s work alone (not our own good deeds) to redeem us from sin’s penalty and power. As promised in Romans 4:5 – “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness


Additional Resource: What is the Gospel? (Lecture - Redeemer Presbyterian NYC)