What is the Gospel? Part 2 (Understanding God’s Great Salvation #11)

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”

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:

Paul included himself in the company of all believers when he spoke of receiving the truth of Christ’s death and His resurrection on behalf of sinful people. These verses, the heart of the gospel, were an early Christian confession which Paul described as of first importance. It was really a twofold confession:Christ died for our sins and He was raised. The reality of this was verified by the Scriptures and by historical evidence verified by time in the grave and out of it, in the presence of the living. The fact that He was buried verified His death, and the fact that He appeared to others verified His resurrection. Peter, the first male witness, was soon joined by the remaining disciples who composed the Lord’s immediate circle.

Paul considered himself abnormally born because he lacked the “gestation” period of having been with Christ during His earthly ministry. It seems that the apostles were a body wider than the previously mentioned Twelve, but were all distinguished by having seen the resurrected Christ which made Paul the last of their company.

Because he was the last, like a runt, untimely born, Paul could call himself the least of the apostles. He felt less deserving of the office because he had been an opponent of the church which he now served.

Today’s quote is from Frederick W. Robertson. He said: “Every natural longing has its natural satisfaction. If we thirst, God has created liquids to gratify thirst. If we are susceptible of attachment, there are beings to gratify that love. If we thirst for life and love eternal, it is likely that there are an eternal life and an eternal love to satisfy that craving.”

Our topic today is titled “What is the Gospel? (Part 2)” from the book, “So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ” by Dr. Charles Ryrie.


Paul gives us the precise definition of the Gospel we preach today in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. The Gospel is the good news about the death and resurrection of Christ. He died and lives—this is the content of the Gospel. The fact of Christ’s burial proves the reality of His death. He did not merely swoon only to be revived later, as some critics claim. He actually died, and died for our sins. The inclusion of a list of witnesses proves the reality of His resurrection. He died for our sins and was buried (the proof of His death); He rose and was seen by many witnesses, the majority of whom were still alive when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians (the proof of His resurrection).

This same twofold content of the good news appears again in Romans 4:25: He “delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Everyone who believes in that good news is saved, for that truth, and that alone, is the gospel of the grace of God.

In days past (and even today) we heard much about the “full Gospel,” which included experiencing certain ministries of the Holy Spirit. To be saved, one not only had to believe but also, for example, receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Churches that taught this doctrine were sometimes called “full Gospel” churches. Today we hear about the “whole Gospel,” which includes the redemption of society along with the redemption of individuals. But Paul wrote clearly that the Gospel that saves is believing that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. This is the complete Gospel, and so it is also the true full Gospel and the true whole Gospel. Nothing else is needed for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.


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