The first significant area of study regarding the Gospel is its CONTENT.
This will answer the question WHAT. So, what is the CONTENT of the Gospel? Paul notes that the Gospel reveals: "a RIGHTEOUSNESS FROM GOD . . . a righteousness that is by faith" (Rom.1:17). What Paul means is that this righteousness comes by faith RATHER THAN LAW. This must be viewed as extremely GOOD NEWS as up to this point righteousness was thought to come from obedience to the Law. Paul makes this fallacy clear by stating: "The sting of DEATH is SIN and the power of sin is THE LAW"
(1Cor.15:56). Law brings death, faith brings life. . . Good News so far? . . . Paul further reveals that the Gospel is "the POWER OF GOD for the SALVATION of everyone who believes" (Rom.1:16). This is the power by which "God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also"
We must insert a word of caution here! ! ! Just as there were false prophets to lead Israel astray in the Old Testament, there is a false gospel which attempts (mostly successfully) to lead the Israel of God astray in the New Testament. As noted above, Paul chastened the church at Galatia: "I am astonished . . . you . . . are turning to a DIFFERENT GOSPEL - - - which is really NO GOSPEL at all" (Gal.1:7). The words "no gospel at all" are a translation of the Greek word "allos" which means "something else", "something alien", "something altered", "something adulterated" or, my favourite, "ANYTHING BUT". False gospel is ANYTHING BUT GOOD NEWS ! ! ! In fact, I might as well reveal it here, FALSE GOSPEL ALWAYS PUTS US BACK UNDER THE LAW. Where does that lead? ? ? Paul testified to the Gospel he preached as follows: "I want you to know, brothers, that the Gospel I preached is NOT SOMETHING MAN MADE UP. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I RECEIVED IT BY REVELATION FROM JESUS CHRIST" (Gal.1:11-12). Remember what he wrote the church at Corinth: "By this Gospel you are saved, IF you HOLD FIRMLY to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain" (1Cor.15:2). I do not like the translation here. The words "hold firmly" is from the Greek "katecho" which really means "have with you". The "word" that was preached was JESUS, who IS the WORD. A much better understanding can be had if we translate: "BY THIS GOSPEL YOU ARE SAVED, IF YOU HAVE JESUS WITH YOU. Otherwise you have believed in vain". "In vain" is from the Greek "eikon" meaning image. That would make the ending "Otherwise you have believed an image".
PLEASE SEE IN THIS SECTION THE COLOSSAL DANGER IN FALSE PREACHING AND RECOGNIZE ITS WARNING SIGN - - - IT WANTS TO PUT US BACK UNDER LAW.
The clearest Scripture on the subject of WHAT THE GOSPEL IS is
1 Cor. 15:2-8. After reminding the people of the Gospel he preached and having indicated its salvation hope, Paul writes: "For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to Scripture, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to Scriptures and that He appeared to . . ." (Note that Paul lists Christ's numerous appearances and then says): ". . . last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born" (v8). There was one other CRITICAL thing regarding Gospel that happened between Christ's appearances to the twelve and His appearance to Paul - HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN (Lk.24:50-53; Ac.1:9). Now please realize that Christ's appearances to the twelve and His appearance to Paul were DIFFERENT. Perhaps that is why Paul said he was "ABNORMALLY BORN". The difference was that Christ appeared to the twelve IN THE FLESH whereas He appeared to Paul IN THE SPIRIT. So I want to emphasize the FOUR component ACTIONS of the Gospel:
That Christ Died for our sins
That He was Buried
That He was Raised again in the flesh ( He appeared to many in the flesh as proof of His bodily resurrection).
That He Ascended into Heaven ( He appeared to Paul and He appears to us in the Spirit ).
When we are baptized we illustrate (preach) this Gospel. Going out into the water illustrates death, going under the water illustrates burial, coming back above water illustrates resurrection and coming up out of the water illustrates ascention. At Christ's baptism we are told that the Spirit of God descended on Him (Mt.3:16). When we are baptized the Spirit of Christ descends on us (He ascended so that His Spirit might descend Jn.16:7). One instance where the Spirit was received without baptism is in Acts 10:44-48. So we have established the great hope of those who put their faith in Christ: THAT ALTHOUGH WE MAY DIE THERE WILL ONE DAY BE A BODILY RESURRECTION OF THOSE IN CHRIST.
The CONTENT of that hope is surely Good News.
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