What is the Gospel? Part 1 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #10)

The Bible says in John 6:37: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by Dr. John F. Walvoord and Dr. Roy B. Zuck: “There is an election of God which is the Father’s gift to the Son. The Son has no concern that His work will be ineffective, for the Father will enable people to come to Jesus. Jesus has confidence. But people may have confidence also. One who comes to Jesus for salvation will by no means be driven away.”

Today’s quote is from Charles Spurgeon. He said: “I would sooner pluck one single brand from the burning than explain all mysteries.”

Our topic today is titled “What is the Gospel? (Part 1)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.

Consider this tale of two students. The first is a straight-A student. He has not received anything less than an A in his entire university career. The second has never received an A in his life. Actually, he struggles to pass.

One semester both find themselves in the same class, and both are in trouble academically. There is a real possibility the A student may receive a B for the course, while the struggling student might not even pass.

The semester ends and both anxiously await their grades. Now suppose the professor goes to the A student and says, “I have good news for you. You passed.” To the A student, that is definitely not good news. The only good news he wants to hear is that he received an A. But for the other student, the message that he passed would be the best news he could hear. “You received an A” and “you passed” are both good news, but with quite different content. Both are “gospels,” but they are different gospels.

THE GOOD NEWS

Our English word gospel means “good story” or “good news.”

But the word gospel must be further defined by answering one more question: good news about what? Even the New Testament uses the word gospel to mean various types of good news, so one has to describe what good news is in view.

For example, in 1 Thessalonians 3:6 Paul wrote that Timothy brought good news, literally a gospel, of the steadfastness of the new converts in Thessalonica. This gospel did not concern eternal salvation; rather it was the good news that the spiritual condition of the Thessalonian believers was vibrant.

Paul warned against the false gospel of the Judaizers in Galatians 1:6. Their good news or gospel included the requirement to be circumcised as well as to believe in order for one to be saved. No gospel of grace was this, for a human work had been added—circumcision.

GOOD NEWS IN THE GOSPELS

In the gospel of Matthew, all but one time the word gospel is used concerning the good news or gospel of the kingdom. This was the message of John the Baptist, of our Lord, and of the twelve disciples when they were first sent out by the Lord.

What was this good news about the kingdom? The correct answer lies in the concept and hope of the kingdom that the Jewish people had at the time of the first coming of Christ. In fact, their hope was for the establishment of the promised rule of Messiah in His kingdom on this earth, and in a kingdom that would exalt the Jewish people and free them from the rule of Rome under which they lived.

But the rule of heaven did not arrive during Jesus’ lifetime because the people refused to repent and meet the spiritual conditions for the kingdom. Most only wanted a political deliverance without having to meet any personal requirements for change of life. So the kingdom did not arrive because the people would not prepare properly for it.

But this did not mean there would never be a Davidic, millennial kingdom. The Lord taught that it would not appear immediately, but He also predicted that the Gospel, the good news of the kingdom, would be preached yet again in the future period of the Great Tribulation. And in that wicked time when Satan and the forces of evil will have almost totally free rein, it will be very good news to know that soon Messiah will rule on the earth.

All of Matthew’s references to the Gospel concern this good news about the kingdom except one, Matthew 26:13. There the Lord said that wherever the good news about His death was preached, Mary Magdalene’s good deed of anointing Him in anticipation of that death would be known.

Mark’s use of the term gospel uniformly emphasizes the person of Christ. Our Lord is the central theme of the good news. Luke also used the word to underscore the centrality of Christ to the good news as well as announcing the kingdom. John does not use the word gospel at all, though of course he records the important teaching on the new birth.

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