Oct 13, 2023

What is the Gospel?

Photo by T Steele

What is the Gospel?

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

A reading of the context of that verse may reveal a focus on time. Just before this verse is a passage that tells us that there is a time for everything: a time for weeping and laughing, a time for seeking and a time for losing, a time for keeping and a time for casting away, a time for silence, and a time for speaking. These are but a few things mentioned in the beginning of Ecclesiastes 3. Following the opening, in verses 9 and 10, we find the workers gain from his labor and that labor being given by God; God makes these things beautiful in time.

If we were to stop there, it would be sufficient to simply see that there really is a time for everything under the warmth of the sun, yet we cannot stop there, because God did not stop there. As we continue to read, we stumble upon the next thought; “God has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” This verse is consistent with other passages like Romans 1:18-32, which show us the nature of man as a fallen descendent of Adam. Under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul tells us that man can look at all of creation and understand that there is a God. That God has revealed His wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. That God, who made all things, revealed His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature to the degree that all people are left without excuse on the day of judgement.

Returning back to the text in Ecclesiastes 3, the preacher is telling us that that knowledge of eternity is just enough to tell us there is eternity, but not enough to give us clarity as to how to reach it or what it looks like. In the murky waters of eternity, the writer of Ecclesiastes concludes the thought that it is best for us to simply labor and enjoy the fruits of our work. He then reminds us that God is working too and what He does cannot be moved and it will endure forever.

There is a lot to be said here about the confusion in the world. The very concept of salvation is carried away by deceptive spirits and wolfish men seeking to carry away God’s sheep. The eternity in our hearts causes us to seek after eternity; when some being appears providing answers, we jump into the murky waters to swim towards that being, only to realize the being is trying to drown us in the water, much like the Greek mythology regarding the sirens leading sailors to their doom. We have all been carried away by those ebbs and flows of the tide of eternity; it is only God Himself, the very Author of Eternity, that can build an ark great enough to carry all His sons and daughters into the true eternal life.

To let God being to make sense of eternity, let us return now to the verse in which we started. Given the context of time and the thought that God has put eternity into the hearts of man, is there a way to see past the fog? In a sense, we live within our own homes (which we might call our bodies). In our homes, we prefer to pull down the blinders and only consider the world within the four walls of our homes. In those walls is comfort and perhaps pleasure, but only fear and anxiety can come from opening the curtain and seeing what’s beyond! If we stop at opening the curtain and looking beyond, then as God told us in Romans 1, all we can see is the wrath of God towards sin!

What truly lies beyond those curtains? What is eternity? What happens when I die? Is there reason to hope for life after death? If there is life after death, how do I attain that eternal life? These questions and more have been the cause of much confusion and they are questions that allow deceivers the door of opportunity. The deceivers want your devotion and your life. They want the power that comes from your most valuable resource, and they want to use you to bring others to their peril too.

Life is a limited commodity. It is not something you can’t trade for. You cannot buy more. You cannot sell it. You cannot add time by your own good works. You cannot subtract time by your wicked works. We do not know when we die, but, as according to Scripture, man is appointed once to die, then comes judgement (Hebrews 9:27). We will die. We can run, but we cannot hide. We cannot escape it. It crouches at the door awaiting for the opportunity to burst open into and consume you; what comes next is our cause for hope in this life.

2 Corinthians 6:2 tells us today is the day of salvation. Returning to our text of Ecclesiastes 3, there is a time for everything. In time, God will make everything beautiful. Lord willing, that will include you. When the door opens and you are taken in death, you can awaken glorified. You can awaken into life. You can truly escape the judgement for those counted as wicked. You can live forever and ever and with each passing day, be no closer to the end than when you started. You can be reunited with loved ones and ancestors and descendants that gain this life. You can be united to God in eternity. There is a time for everything; the time for salvation is now.

Swirling in your cloudy mind might be many questions, like how can I gain such life? How can I escape the claws of death which wait eagerly in the darkness to drag me into the abyss? How can I escape my war with God and His wrath toward my sin? How can I, a mere mortal, put on immortality? Are those pastures of eternal light and abundance for me? Can I, today, find the promised rest that the Lord promised all His children? Or perhaps, like the jailer in Acts 16, you might simply ask, “Sir, what must I do to be saved?”

The simple answer that the apostle Paul gave the jailer was this,

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

What wonder and what beauty is such a simple answer; believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved. That is it and there is no more; eternal life is all about believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.

In His own words, Jesus says,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!”

To further simplify, Paul in Romans 10:9-10 says this,

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

Scripture is clear as to what the path to salvation is. In Romans 1:16, Paul writes,

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

The power of God for salvation, eternal life, is that Gospel. Previously, you read what Jesus says about believing in the Son of God and what Paul told the jailer about believing in the Lord Jesus; all these thoughts can be summarized in the definition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As the title of this article suggests, we must ask as people seeking life, “What is the Gospel?” The Gospel is brilliantly explained in 1 Corinthians 15, with a heavy focus on the importance of the resurrection, but more on that in another article. Paul opens the chapter by saying,

“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.”

By this Gospel, you are being saved. There is no other way; nowhere in the Bible is there another name by which you can be saved. There is no other path to life.

What follows in 1 Corinthians 15 is a clear explanation of the Gospel. Paul explains this Gospel, starting in verse 3:

“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, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.” Paul continues to explain his own role within the calling of Christ, but this is the Gospel. This is the “good news” that man expected from the beginning after the sin of Adam.

Why do I need to believe this Gospel? Well, eternal life, to start with. However, there is something much more terrifying than the idea of death; it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Why is it fearful? God has wrath towards sin and as a just God, His justice demands His wrath be poured out upon sin. We are all sinners who must take accountability for our own sin. There is a very real place of wrath, called Hell, and it awaits all the sons of men who reject the Lord Jesus’s sacrifice. This place is not an eternal party like the world might say. The devil and his demons do not control it. The hubris of the common man that says he isn’t afraid of such a place will shatter upon entry. This is a place where God’s infinite wrath upon infinitely damnable offenses is levied; God will punish every sinner for eternity for the deeds done in the body. When judgement comes, you will receive a resurrection unto life or death, choose life!

Belief in that Gospel, according to the One True and Living God, grants eternal life. Now, certainly, there are many wonderful, Biblical doctrines to learn as one grows in Christ, but we cannot grant infants the same kind of food as a fully grown man. Salvation comes by believing in Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection. Eternal life is given by believing that the Lord Jesus Christ became sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God. He did these things, drank the cup of God’s wrath towards sin to the last drop, and experienced the fullness of God’s wrath on the cross so that anyone that believes in Him can be saved. He rose again the third day to secure eternal life and resurrection for His people; there is life after this time expires, and it is offered from God’s open, nail-scarred hands to anyone that will believe.

Time is limited while we are in this fallen world, yet in this limited time is a time for everything. Today is the day of salvation. Right now is when God can make you beautiful too. This time is the time for you to choose life. Today is the day that you can believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. For this article, a conclusion based entirely on Scripture is necessary. Allow the author of this article to remove himself now and conclude with a text that teaches the Gospel and the love of God brilliantly:

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, by grace you have been saved, and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”