MOSCOW, January 28, 2012 – The word “gospel” is frequently used in the English language. We have all heard it many times, but not many of us know what it really means.
This holds true even among Christians. Many believers would be hard-pressed to accurately define its meaning, even though the concept of the Gospel stands at the very center of the Christian faith.
The word “gospel” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word godspel, a composite term consisting of two words: god, which meant good, and spel, which meant “news.”
The old English term is a word-for-word rendition of the Greek word euangelion, which literally means “good telling” or “good news.”
This word appears some seventy-five times in the New Testament. We should be glad of it, since the news it announces is good indeed. That news is this: Even though all men are sinners deserving of eternal death in a place called hell, God has provided a way of escape.
We deserve God’s wrath, because we all have offended against God by willfully violating the moral law he gave us as a rule of conduct. If we honestly examine our lives we cannot but realize how far short we fall of the moral standard that God implanted in our conscience. Lying, manipulating, stealing are only some of the practices we routinely engage in. Worse yet, we do these things while knowing we should not.
“The soul who sins shall die,” God tells us. This puts us in a seemingly hopeless predicament: Fallen and guilty, we have no way of justifying ourselves before our Creator. “We all have sinned, and our souls must be lost, if God deal with us according to his holy law,” observes Matthew Henry in his commentary.
But the good news is that God has provided a way out for guilty sinners like us. He sent his Son – Jesus Christ – to take upon himself men’s sins and pay the penalty due to it by his propitiatory death on the cross.
This is how the Apostle Paul puts it:
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”
This is the gospel in a nutshell, which is the good news that men can be reconciled to God through the life, death and resurrection of his son.
In order to participate in this good news, however, one must repent of sin and accept Christ’s atoning sacrifice by faith. “Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” we read in the third chapter of John’s gospel.
There can be no better news than this.
Born and raised under communism, Vasko Kohlmayer is a naturalized American citizen. He has lived in several countries under various forms of government, but he still marvels at the goodness of God and the wonder of life.
He has written for a number of newspapers, magazines and internet journals. Vasko currently lives in Europe with his long-suffering wife and two beautiful daughters. He is the founder of The Christian Writers Foundation.
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