This sixth part in my “Statement of Faith” series is about the “Gospel”. David H. Bauslin, in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, wrote a pretty good summary paragraph on the meaning and significance of the word, “Gospel”:
The word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word which meant "the story concerning God." In the New Testament the Greek word Grk: euaggelion, means "good news." It proclaims tidings of deliverance. The word sometimes stands for the record of the life of our Lord (Mk 1:1), embracing all His teachings, as in Acts 20:24. But the word "gospel" now has a peculiar use, and describes primarily the message which Christianity announces. "Good news" is its significance. It means a gift from God. It is the proclamation of the forgiveness of sins and sonship with God restored through Christ. It means remission of sins and reconciliation with God. The gospel is not only a message of salvation, but also the instrument through which the Holy Spirit works (Rom 1:16).
I’ve heard some pretty bizarre definitions of the Gospel. The worst of these describe the Gospel as good news about Christ coming to give us an example of how to live. That’s not good news. That’s bad news. It’s bad news because Christ lived his earthly life righteously—perfectly righteously (can I use an adverb to modify an adverb?). If I’m supposed to follow Christ’s example in order to be acceptable to God, I’m toast. Can’t do it. No on can. I could try, but I would fail badly—utterly badly (there I go again!). And according to the Bible, if I were to fall short of Christ’s example even a little, I would deserve God’s wrath and judgement for my sin. For this reason, every definition and conception of the Gospel must include the substituting nature of Christ’s life lived and of the death He died. I saw this quote from R.C. Sproul yesterday on a blog in which he explains the Gospel as being all about Christ as the Substitute:
“A Substitute has appeared in space and time, appointed by God Himself, to bear the weight and burden of our transgressions, to make expiation for our guilt, and to propitiate the wrath of God on our behalf. This is the gospel.” – R. C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross (Orlando, FL; Reformation Trust Pub., 2007), 81.
There is so much more to be said in order to do justice to the richness and depth of the Gospel. But in my Statement of Faith, I tried to summarize my beliefs as much as possible while covering at least the essentials. Here, then, is my inadequate attempt:
I believe that the Good News of what God has done through Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, righteous life, sacrificial death for sin according to the Scriptures, burial, resurrection on the third day according to the Scriptures and ascension to Glory is the only means by which anyone can be saved from the justice of God’s wrath.
I believe that this Good News, the Gospel, must be preached, must be heard and understood, so that one can trust in Jesus Christ, believe that He is both Lord and God, and be saved.
I believe that though there are various metaphors given in Scripture to understand God’s plan of salvation through Christ, the foundation of the doctrine of salvation is revealed in Scripture in terms of the penal, substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
I believe that the doctrine of justification by faith through the imputed righteousness of Christ is of primary importance and is foundational to all other worship and duties owed to God by believers.