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What’s So Good about the Gospel?

Updated May 01, 2024
What’s So Good about the Gospel?

Many gospel conversations focus on life after death: All have sinned. Sin separates us from God. Jesus died to save us from hell and make heaven possible for those who believe in him. But what if this is only part of the gospel story?

If you ask ten people to define the gospel, you’ll likely get ten different answers. Over time and through frequency of use, the word gospel has lost much of its meaning. As Christians, we know it has to do with salvation. We accepted the gospel when we came to faith in Jesus, and we’re supposed to share the gospel with others.

Yet how can we share what we don’t clearly understand? What does the Bible really teach about the gospel?

What Is the Gospel?

Many gospel conversations focus on life after death: All have sinned. Sin separates us from God. Jesus died to save us from hell and make heaven possible for those who believe in him.

But what if this is only part of the gospel story?

What if the gospel is more than a ticket to heaven after we die? What if it’s just as relevant to current believers as it is to those who don’t yet know Jesus?

In the New Testament, the Greek word for gospel is euangelion (or euangelizo when used as a verb). It’s basic meaning is “good news.” This word occurs 130 times in the New Testament, always centering on the story of Jesus and what he accomplished through his life, death, and resurrection.

While it’s definitely good news that Jesus’ sacrifice made a way for us to go to heaven, a closer study of Scripture paints a bigger picture than simply a better life someday. The word gospel didn’t originate in the New Testament with the advent of Jesus. When the apostles wrote about this good news, they built upon the entire Biblical narrative:

  • God created a good world in which humans ruled as his representatives, living in harmony with him, with each other, and with creation (Genesis 1:31).
  • Humanity rejected God as their King, ushering in the curse of sin and death and all the brokenness we see in our world (Genesis 3, Romans 5:12).
  • God, in relentless love, promised to send a Deliverer who would rescue humanity, redeem creation, and reestablish his kingdom on earth (Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 9:1-7).
  • God chose Abraham to be the father of the Israelite people. Through him, God showed us the supreme value of faith (Genesis 12:1-3, Galatians 3:6-7).
  • God called Israel to be his people, to model what it looks like to live with God as King. Like the first humans, though, they rejected him repeatedly (Leviticus 26:12, 1 Samuel 8:7).
  • Israel’s prophets spent hundreds of years foretelling the coming of a new King, echoing God’s original promise of a Deliverer. He would come, they said, as a descendant of Abraham. Through him, all the nations of the world would be blessed. The prophet Isaiah describes the mission this Deliverer would fulfill:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news [i.e. the gospel] to the poor.

He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.

He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.

To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.

In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory” (Isaiah 61:1-3, NLT).

Building on this backstory, New Testament writers proclaimed the good news that Jesus is the promised Deliverer — the one we’ve been awaiting since God’s very first promise in the Garden of Eden.

The Bible Project explains that in the Old Testament, “The ‘good news’ is connected to the victory of a king, or to the enthronement of a king over his kingdom.” This was precisely how New Testament writers used the term. To them, the gospel was a royal announcement (Matthew 24:14).

Jesus’ arrival initiated the Kingdom of God.

Why Is the Gospel of the Kingdom Good News?

Jesus used Isaiah’s words (above) to describe what he came to do as humanity’s rightful King (Luke 4:16-21). Through his earthly ministry, he revealed what the kingdom of God looks like as he healed sickness, banished demons with a word, and conquered death through his own resurrection.

He showed us that in his kingdom, leaders wash the feet of their followers. Mercy triumphs over judgment and faith counts as righteousness. The first are last and peacemakers are the true children of God. The hungry are filled, the broken healed, and the humble inherit the kingdom.

Jesus entered the domain of darkness to set up his kingdom of light. And where Jesus reigns, the curse is undone.

The gospel of the kingdom is good news because it tells us that earth has a new King, one who invites us to join his kingdom through faith in his life, death, and resurrection.

Who Is This Good News For?

While the gospel is good news for those who don’t yet know Jesus, it’s also good news for those of us who follow him. Far more than a heavenly home someday, the gospel enables us to begin enjoying our inheritance right now. Because of the gospel, we have:

Peace with God

The “gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15) reconciles us to the Father. No longer are we at odds with him, separated by our sin. He is for us. He welcomes us to approach him boldly. He relates to us as beloved children.

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory” (Romans 5:1-2, emphasis added).

A New Identity

The gospel redefines us. We are “no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household” (Ephesians 2:19). Jesus is King and we are his chosen people.

“So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority” (Colossians 2:10).

Ongoing Salvation

While we have been saved from the penalty of sin, and we will someday be saved from the presence of sin (Romans 5:9-11), the Bible tells us we are also being saved from the control of sin in our lives. As we acknowledge Jesus’ kingship and participate with his work in and through us, we are changed from the inside out. The gospel itself is the power source for this ongoing renewal and transformation (Romans 1:16).

“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18, emphasis added).

Purpose and Calling

As citizens of Christ’s kingdom, we’ve been entrusted with a vital mission — spreading the gospel of the new King and inviting others to join his kingdom, too. In every profession, in any location, this is the call of God for all his kingdom people. Through his Spirit, he equips us to live out this purpose (Acts 1:8).

“…God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’ For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:18b-21, NLT).

The Kingdom Is Here Now, but Also Not Yet

If Jesus is reigning now as earth’s rightful King, and if kingdom living looks like freedom for the captives, healing for the blind, and the end of oppression (Isaiah 61), why is the world still so broken?

Theologians use the phrase “already, not yet” to describe the kingdom of God.

Already, Jesus holds the name above all names. He disarmed the spiritual forces of darkness and triumphed over them at the cross. He possesses all authority in heaven and on earth (Philippians 2:5-11, Colossians 2:13-15, Matthew 28:18).

Already, as citizens of Christ’s kingdom, we have peace with God. By grace through faith, our sins are forgiven. We are joined to Christ in such a way that God sees Jesus’ goodness when he looks at us. We have a new life, a new name, and a new identity. His Spirit lives inside us as our Source of abundant life. Through his ongoing presence, we can learn the ways of the kingdom and the heart of the King, becoming like him as he renews his image in us (Romans 5:1; 1 John 2:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21; John 10:10, 14:26; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

Already, the kingdom of God is here on earth. Instead of looking like armies and thrones we can see, though, this kingdom spreads around the globe by taking root in human hearts. Wherever the gospel goes out and people claim Jesus as their King, the kingdom has come. And where the kingdom comes, so does the power of God (Matthew 12:28, Luke 17:20-21).

Sometimes this is visible, as God’s Spirit confirms the gospel message through miracles such as healing, deliverance, and restoration. Other times, though, the renewal is just as invisible as the kingdom itself. This is where the not yet comes into play.

Though Jesus is King and the earth rightly belongs to him, the best is yet to come. For now, we foretaste the realities of the kingdom. Someday, we’ll experience them in full.

Not yet do the powers of darkness bow to Jesus’ authority. An invisible battle still rages in the spiritual realm. People still choose darkness rather than light, selfishness rather than love, brokenness rather than redemption (1 Corinthians 15:24-28, Philippians 2:10-11, John 3:19).

Not yet do we cease to struggle with sin. We’ve been declared righteous by faith, but we’re still learning to live out this reality as the Spirit changes us from the inside out (Romans 6).

Not yet has God wiped away every tear and removed the things which cause pain (Revelation 21:4).

Not yet is the grave finally destroyed. Sickness still ravages and people still die. When our prayers for healing receive God’s no, we’re reminded we await our full inheritance as kingdom citizens (1 Corinthians 15).

Not yet has the New Heaven come to the New Earth with its life-giving river, its healing tree of life, and its riches beyond our wildest imaginations. Not yet does the King dwell with his people so that we see his face and have no need of the sun or artificial light (Revelation 22:1-6).

The gospel tells us that Jesus is King. His kingdom is here now with its transforming power. Someday it will fully and finally come.

Like springtime in Narnia melting the White Witch’s frigid curse, Christ’s Kingdom has arrived to make all things new. As the hymn writer aptly put it,

“Though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler Yet.

This is my Father’s world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!”

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/sticker2you

Meredith Mills headshotMeredith N Mills writes about letting go of the try-harder life through knowing God’s heart and resting in his grace. She’s passionate about helping wounded and weary Christians build (and rebuild) authentic, life-giving faith. You can download her 7-day devotional, Flourish: Devotions from the Garden to Help You Thrive, and subscribe for her email devotions, Multifaceted: Reflections on the Heart of God, at MeredithNMills.com/freebie-library. She’d love to connect with you on InstagramThreads, and Facebook.