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What Is the Gospel?

What Is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? by Kristin Dearth

How would you answer that question? Maybe one of the verses below comes to mind.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)

Or “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”  (1 Peter 2:24 ESV)

Or maybe you would answer the question with a simple articulation of the Gospel, like this one found at Desiring God:

1) God is holy, 2) we are hopeless sinners, 3) Christ died and rose again for sinners, and 4) this great salvation is enjoyed by faith in Christ.

When Derek and I served in Zambia, we taught the C.R.O.S.S. Project, an HIV/AIDS ministry. In one of our lessons, we talked about the hope of the Gospel for the stigmatized and would ask participants the question, “What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” The most profound way a person can be encouraged is in the hope of the Gospel, but we cannot encourage anyone in the Gospel, if we do not even know what the Gospel is.

The majority of the groups that we trained in the C.R.O.S.S. Project struggled to answer this basic question of Christianity. Usually, there was a lot of silence. And when people did answer, they would say things like...

  • “Obey the Ten Commandments”
  • “Do what God commands in the Bible”
  • “Go to church and be baptized”
  • “Don’t sin”
  • “Learn the Bible”
  • “Change your bad behavior”
  • “Get deliverance”
  • “Pray to God more and fast more”

Pastor John Chitambo, one of our coworkers in the C.R.O.S.S. Project, said about these things, “People believe that in the process of going to church and doing ‘Christian works’ they will become a Christian somewhere along the way.”

But that is not what the Gospel is! While it is good to do the above, and many of those things are fruits that flow out of being a true Christian, the Gospel is not about our works or earning salvation through works. It is about Christ’s righteousness and his atoning work on the cross and resurrection. It’s about what He did for us!

This underscores that, while Zambia and other countries ACTION ministers in are technically “reached” for Christ, there is still an ongoing need for national Christians and foreign missionaries to be clearly sharing and articulating the Gospel. And there is also a need for discipleship and Christian leadership training, especially among the poor and marginalized, as so many of the pastors and elders have very little Biblical and pastoral training. Please pray for the ministries of ACTION that labor toward this end! And give, as you feel led, to enable the Gospel to continue to reach the forgotten and vulnerable.