The short answer is that the word “Gospel” means GOOD NEWS. But good news about what, exactly? Glad you asked!
To appreciate, and to even understand the good news of the Gospel, one much first understand the bad news. I’m going to explain the bad news of the human condition, but the following good news is mind-blowing. Stick around for that part.
Here is the problem we all face. Everyone who is born, is born into sin. We all have a sin nature. Humans are inclined toward sin. They love the sin which offends a holy, righteous, just, and loving God. Jesus said “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin” (John 8:34). You sin, I sin, we all sin. Surely you have heard of the Ten Commandments in the Bible? You and I have broken them….all of them, most likely. Here they are, in case you were wondering:
“You shall have no other gods before Me.”
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image…”
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain…”
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
“Honor your father and your mother…”
“You shall not murder.”
“You shall not commit adultery.”
“You shall not steal.”
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
“You shall not covet…anything that is your neighbor’s.”
You may say, “wait a minute, I certainly haven’t committed adultery!” Jesus Himeself said “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). So you see, you can commit adultery in your heart without ever touching a woman (or man).
God demands perfection of anyone who will be with Him for eternity. But WE CANNOT REACH PERFECTION. People are lost in their sin! They will all be all hopeless and helpless when they stand before God, the righteous judge on judgement day. But there is a way given to man, where we can be seen as righteous and sinless in the eyes of God. The way is through Jesus Christ. You can have access to that way! I’m going to get to that soon. But first I have to explain the bad news a bit more, so that you truly see how good the good news is. If Jesus doesn’t mean much to you right now, that’s because you don’t understand the position you are in, without him, destined to eternal damnation in hell. The bible says “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). So it is written, that the wrath of God abides on everyone who does not have forgiveness in Christ Jesus.
To further explain the situation we all find ourselves in, before Christ, I will use an analogy I have heard from my own pastor.
During WWII, on July 27th, 1945, the Navy battleship USS Indianapolis was traveling at sea, near the Philippines. It carried, among other things, 1,196 men aboard. A Japanese submarine spotted them, and the captain wanted to sink the battleship, as he had never before actually accomplished the sinking of a ship. After firing several very powerful torpedoes at the American battleship, two of them hit! The ship was shaken in a big way, and many died instantly. Many were burned, but were running for safety. There was no safety, because the ship would soon be going down. And down it went, with about 880 men going into the water, still alive. This was shark infested water, to be certain. Many men were able to join with others and form groups. Some had a raft, most did not. Most men did have life jackets on.
Due to a breakdown in communication prior to the sinking of the ship, the US Navy did not even know exactly where the ship was, or when it was supposed to be arriving at its destination. These men were about to live out four days of “hell on earth”, afloat in the Pacific ocean. Four days! No food, no water to drink, and the sun beating down on them. Many began to die off. Some were killed by sharks, some killed by the elements, dehydration, or exhaustion. It was a dark, dark time for them. They did not even know why the Navy had not come to rescue them, as they assumed would happen the very first day.
Floating on the water, some of them still IN the water, they were in despair. They realized their plight. They understood their situation was grim and hopeless at this point. They had now spent four long days in the water. Friends were dying in each other’s arms, sharks swimming all around them. But then…..some of them saw the most beautiful thing they had ever seen on earth. It was stunningly beautiful to their eyes! What was it? A normally boring old sea plane. Oh, but it was not boring to them on that day! These men recognized their dire situation, being lost at sea, and clinging to life. So this plain old sea plane was to them at that time, the most beautiful sight they could imagine. They were soon to be rescued! Only 316 men lived to see the sea plane. The rest perished horribly. But to the ones who lived, to this day, they will tell the story with tears in their eyes that nothing has ever been so beautiful as that sea plane.
So this story synonymous of the spiritual plight of mankind. All of mankind is spiritually hopeless, sinking, and dying. All are doomed to eternal damnation, no matter how “good” we think we have been. In the Bible, it says in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”. That means all of us. Romans 3:10 says “There is none righteous, not even one.“
We are all on track to be punished eternally in hell. Yes, these are hard words, but Jesus spoke of hell not just a little bit. But what can we do so that we can be saved from the penalty of our sins against God? How can we be reconciled to God, and live with Him forever, if we are full of sin and iniquity, and He is holy and righteous? Remember the sea plane? Jesus is your rescuer, and your redeemer! HE should be the most beautiful person you can imagine, at this point. He is the most amazing, perfect redeemer and rescuer. Let me explain how Jesus paid the price for the sins of ALL who will call out to Him to be saved.
The bible says “…without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22) Jesus, the perfect and righteous one, shed his blood on the cross for the sins of all who will put their faith in Him. We call it “substitutionary atonement.” Jesus, the son of God, took on human flesh and became sin for us, so that we can become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:21) He lived perfectly sinless, but He took on OUR sins on the cross. Those who would trust in Him, would receive Jesus’ perfect righteousness in return.
God hates sin, and must punish sin, since He is a just and righteous judge. But if we repent, and put our faith in Jesus as our savior and redeemer, we will be saved from God’s impending wrath. We cannot add anything to what Jesus did on the cross. At this point, this should be the most beautiful offer you have ever heard of. Jesus offers you His perfect righteousness for your sin! Just as the sea plane was beautiful to those hopeless men at sea, so is Jesus beautiful to those who understand the desperate state of their souls.
What greater love can God demonstrate to us, than to send His Son from Heaven’s glory, down to this earth in human flesh, to be mocked, beaten, crucified, and to die a death WE deserve? Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. Jesus takes our punishment, and we receive His righteousness in return. Oh what love! Oh what grace He gives to us!
Do you believe God has shown you the truth of this Gospel, and you now feel a sorrow and brokenness for your sins? Do you have faith that Jesus is the only savior? Then call out to God now. You can pray quietly or loudly. Repent and believe! It’s the best thing you can ever do in this life.