What is the gospel?
This post is a chapter from Dr. Timothy Tennent’s book, 30 Questions: A Short Catechism on the Christian Faith available for purchase from our store. This resource makes for a great teaching tool in local churches, especially for catechesis purposes. We’re featuring a chapter each week in hopes of encouraging you to pick up the book and share it with others as well.
There is no more popular single word which summarizes the Christian faith than the word “gospel.” It comes from a word in the New Testament which means “the good message” or “the good news.” We often refer to the first four books of the New Testament as “the Gospels,” meaning the books which contain the message of this good news. The apostle Paul, however, used the word “gospel” in the way we are asking this question when he reminded the church in Corinth “of the gospel I preached to you” (1 Cor. 15:1). He then went on to outline the key features of the good news which Christians preach. Paul said, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” This demonstrates that while the good news of salvation is a very big concept, involving the work of the Triune God, the heart of the gospel is centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ.
This is not to diminish the good news of prevenient grace, for example, without which we could never respond to Christ. Nor does it diminish the good news of the Spirit’s work to sanctify us. However, the point is that the good news finds its central focus in the work of Jesus Christ. This is the proclamation which transforms the world and gives the greatest insight into God’s nature and character.
1 Corinthians 15:1–5