In the midst of the information age and the advent of 21st Century technologies, we are literally bombarded with messages on a daily basis. Frankly, it takes much work to sift through and determine what messages are important, what messages to engage, and ultimately what messages to act upon. Yet, one message is singular, transcendent, powerful, and life changing. In fact, amidst the noise and clutter of a message-saturated world, it is simply the most important message of all.
What is that message? It is the gospel of Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, Paul articulates the gospel message when he wrote, “For I deliver to you first of all, that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that he was buried and that he rose again on the third day according to the scriptures.”
The gospel is about Jesus’ life and what He accomplished on our behalf. Namely, He paid our sin debt, providing a means of forgiveness so that through faith, we could be reconciled to God and receive the gift of eternal and abundant life.
The three main components of the gospel message are the Scriptures, substitutionary atonement, and the resurrection
When Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthian Church, the Scriptures referred to the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament). The letters comprising the New Testament had not yet been compiled. And when we think about understanding and articulating the gospel message, we’ll be more grounded when we understand the foundations of the gospel message as first revealed in the Old Testament.
Jesus declared in Matthew 5:18 that He came not to “abolish the Law and the Prophets, but to fulfill.” Talking with two men on the Road to Emmaus in Luke 24:27, the Lord “…beginning at Moses and all Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Finally, Jesus reiterated this truth to His disciples in Luke 24:44-46 just before His ascension, adding in verse 46 : “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ (Messiah) to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.”
Substitutionary atonement is first illustrated for us in the Garden of Eden after the fall when God clothed Adam and Eve with tunics of skin — the skin representing a slain animal. Adam’s and Eve’s covering of fig leaves was an unacceptable sin covering, for atonement was found in God’s provision rather than man’s efforts. Substitutionary atonement, ancient Israel’s means of forgiveness found throughout the Old Testament, is particularly highlighted in Leviticus 17:11 where the Scriptures state, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Additionally, Isaiah 53 is a powerful messianic prophecy of the Suffering Servant’s sacrifice on behalf of mankind. Substitutionary atonement finds culmination in the person of Jesus, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
The concept of resurrection is also found many places in the Old Testament. For example, Daniel 12:1-2 states: “At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (See also Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 49:10, Job 19:25, and Isaiah 26:19). Jesus, in rising from the dead on the third day, demonstrated His authority and victory over sin and death.
As Ambassadors for Christ, “we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.” (1 Thessalonians 2:4). Therefore, understand the message, thank and praise God for the message, and share the message!
“Sing to the LORD, bless His name. Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.” Psalm 96:2