Romans 1:16 (NKJV)
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
We talk a lot about the gospel, but we rarely try to define it. The word gospel means “good news.” The good news of Christ has the power to save everyone who believes.
When we speak about belief it is important to allow the Scriptures to define faith. Scriptural belief is much greater than simple mental belief. The Bible instructs us to believe in our hearts. Our faith must get down inside of us, to our very hearts, and change us.
Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)
6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
We must not only believe in God, but we must also believe enough to diligently seek Him. We turn from our ways and follow Him. True faith always includes obedient actions.
James 2:20 (NKJV)
20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
Faith that doesn’t elicit a response to the gospel is dead. If we believe the gospel, we will obey the gospel.
Romans 10:16 (NKJV)
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”
You can identify unbelievers by their disobedience. The gospel only saves those that believe.
1 Peter 4:17 (NKJV)
17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
If we do not obey the gospel, God will come in judgment against us.
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 (NKJV)
8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
Obviously, we must know the gospel to believe and obey the gospel. It is very important that we get it right.
Galatians 1:6-9 (NKJV)
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
We will be cursed if we pervert the “gospel of Christ.” This phrase is actually an important clue. What is the gospel? It is Jesus Christ. He is the good news.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (NKJV)
15 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
The saving gospel of Christ is the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. How do we obey the gospel? We must apply the death, burial, and resurrection to our lives. We must follow His example. We must experience the power of the gospel for ourselves.
Romans 6:4-7 (NKJV)
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
1. Death – We must die to sin. We turn from serving sin to serving God. The Bible calls this turning repentance. (vs. 6-7)
2. Buried – We are buried with Him through baptism. (vs. 4)
3. Resurrection – Just as Christ was resurrected, we will also be raised in the likeness of His resurrection. (vs. 5) This occurs when we receive the Spirit.
Romans 8:11 (NKJV)
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
We die by repentance. We are buried in baptism. We receive new life by the Spirit. This is how we obey the gospel.
We see this declaration of the gospel repeated throughout the New Testament. Since Christ is the King of kings, the gospel that He proclaimed is sometimes called the gospel of the kingdom.
Matthew 24:14 (NKJV)
14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations…
What was the gospel that Jesus preached and that we are expected to share with the whole world?
Mark 1:15 (NKJV)
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
John 3:5 (NKJV)
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
The gospel of the kingdom included repentance, being born of water (baptism), and being born of the Spirit.
Jesus repeated His gospel in His last message to His disciples. This is known as “The Great Commission.”
Mark 16:15-17 (NKJV)
15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
Mark alluded to both water and Spirit baptisms. When the gospel would be preached, the hearers must believe and be baptized to be saved. True believers could easily be identified by the signs that would follow them. They would receive power and speak in tongues. In the book of Acts speaking in tongues and heavenly power are the consistent evidence of receiving the Spirit.
Luke provided even more details of the Commission including Christ’s command to preach repentance as well as the baptisms. When Jesus told them to preach the gospel of the kingdom, He told them specifically to include these elements.
Luke 24:46-49 (NKJV)
46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you…
On the day of Pentecost, the first gospel message of the New Testament church was preached. Peter stood up before the crowd and declared the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Acts 2:22-24 (NKJV)
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.
When the crowd heard the gospel of Christ, they asked what they should do? How should they respond? How could they obey this gospel?
Acts 2:37-39 (NKJV)
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Peter’s message was identical to Jesus’ words in Luke 24; repent, receive remission of sins by baptism, and receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.
Obeying the full gospel is our assurance of salvation.
2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV)
10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
1 Peter 3:21 (KJV)
21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
3. Resurrection/Spirit Infilling
Romans 8:9-10 (NKJV)
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Have you believed and obeyed the gospel?