Understanding the Message

Now that you understand Christ’s command to share the gospel, we can explore the content of the message you are sharing. “Gospel” simply means “good news.” In Greek, a “gospel-giver” was someone who brought news of a military or political victory. After the ministry of Jesus, the word took on the different meaning. What is the good news of the New Testament?

The Gospel Message (1 Cor 15:1-8, 11)

At the end of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul reminds them what he taught about the gospel. Paul preached this message in Corinth, and the people received it (v. 1). This same message brought salvation to those who genuinely believed (v. 2). Also, the gospel message that Paul preached was the message that he received (v. 3). What exactly is this message that changes people’s lives and brings salvation? What is the gospel?

Christ Died for Our Sins (1 Cor 15:3)

The gospel must begin with the person of Jesus. He entered this world by a miraculous virgin birth, but the Bible teaches that he existed prior to this event (Matt 1:23, Isa 7:14, Mic 5:2). He is God-incarnate, fully God and fully man in one eternal person (John 1:1-3, 14; Phil 2:5-7). During his life on earth, Jesus Christ made explicit claims to be equal with God (Mark 14:62-63, John 8:58, John 10:30). The Jewish leaders falsely accused Jesus because of these claims. The Romans executed him by crucifixion.

Jesus’ death was not an end to his ministry on earth. It accomplished the greatest deliverance for mankind: deliverance from sin. All people have sinned and consequently have experienced the negative results of sin since it first entered the world in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:6-7; Eccles 7:20; Rom 3:23; 5:12). The ultimate consequence of sin is death, physical and eternal separation from God (Rom 6:23; Rev 20:14; 21:8). Jesus’ death on the cross made possible the legal removal of sin from man’s account; Paul calls this justification (Rom 3:24-26). Because he is God with a human body, Jesus was able to take the full guilt and consequences of sin on himself as a substitute for the entire human race (2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Pet 3:18; 1 John 2:2). His death made it possible for all people to be completely forgiven of all sin through the blood which he shed on the cross (Acts 10:43; 1 John 1:7).

Christ Was Buried and Rose Again (1 Cor 15:4)

Once removed from the cross, Jesus’ body was laid in a tomb. His burial is important because it proves he physically died. Three days later, he miraculously rose again (Matt 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:6-7; John 20:9). This event proved his claim to be the Son of God (Rom 1:3-4).  It also made possible the resurrection of all his followers in the future (1 Cor 15:20; 1 Pet 1:3-4).

Christ Was Seen Alive (1 Cor 15:5-8)

Paul provides a list, though not exhaustive, of people who saw Jesus alive after his death. Included in this list are skeptics, people who did not initially believe the claims of Jesus (i.e. James and Paul). This list could also include the women who saw Jesus near the empty tomb and the two disciples who walked with him on the road to Emmaus (Matt 28:9; Mark 16:9, 12; Luke 24:13-15; John 20:18). These visible manifestations of the living Jesus prove that he did come back to life.

You Believed (1 Cor 15:11)

Paul preached a message that was more than mere understanding of historical facts. His preaching called the Corinthian people to a decision, one which he made himself. This decision was a conscious choice to believe that Jesus died for man’s sins, was buried, rose again, and was seen alive by many after his death. This choice does not just accept facts. It is a decision to trust on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as effective for personal deliverance from sin. By this decision, man can have a relationship with God.

The Gospel Decision (Rom 10:9-13)

The gospel message consists of three facts and one decision to believe those facts for personal salvation. In Romans 10, Paul further explains this decision to trust in Christ and what he accomplished by his death and resurrection. This decision is important because it determines whether a person has truly understood and received the gospel.

Genuine belief on Jesus involves both the mouth and the heart (Rom 10:9-10). “Confess with your mouth” is the idea of verbal agreement with the truth about Jesus. The lost person should be willing to affirm to someone, “Yes, I believe the gospel.” “Believe in your heart” is a conscious choice to trust on Jesus for salvation; this choice does not have to be verbalized, though it could be (i.e. praying out-loud). These two aspects of confession and dependence demonstrate genuine belief in Christ (Rom 10:9, 11). Anyone from any background or ethnicity can make this decision; Jesus is not discriminatory in who he saves (Rom 10:12). He guarantees that those who depend on him for salvation will receive it (Rom 10:13; Acts 10:31).

When you have explained the gospel message to a lost person, you should encourage them to make this decision. If they agree with the gospel message, specifically Jesus’ death and resurrection, then they must place their faith in Jesus alone to deliver them from sin. In this decision of faith, they must depend on him in their heart and give evidence of that faith by public testimony. Anyone who makes this simple choice to believe on Jesus Christ and his work on the cross is saved from sin and its consequences forever.

Assignment

  1. Memorize Romans 10:9
  2. Review the four points of “The Gospel Message” from 1 Corinthians 15. Be prepared to list all four points on the quiz next week. This question will not be fill-in-the-blank. The list includes: 1) Christ Died for Our Sins, 2) Christ Was Buried and Rose Again, 3) Christ Was Seen Alive, and 4) You Believed
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