What is the gospel?


When Jesus began his ministry, he didn’t beat around the bush. His opening gambit was this:

‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ Mark 1:15

Gospel literally means ‘good news’.

But tucked away in Jesus’ dramatic entrance is also bad news. We can only grasp the good news, if first we hear the bad.

Here’s what I mean.

The Bad News

‘Repent’ (Mark 1:15). It’s not something you hear every day.

It means ‘turn around’. Jesus is saying we’ve all chosen to walk away from God (Romans 3:12) – the God who loved us and gave us his good creation (Genesis 1:31).

Rejecting God is like a child refusing to live under their dad’s roof - under his rule.  It’s like slapping him in the face, trying to kick him out of his home (Matthew 26:67). 

The Bible calls this sin – a cosmic crime against a holy God.

So Jesus rocks up and delivers the bad news: Because God is just, we’re on course to meet God’s eternal judgment (Hebrews 9:27). 

But that’s where the good news comes in.

The Good News

While sin rightly leads to God’s judgment, Jesus took this punishment on our behalf (1 Peter 3:18). By Jesus’ death, God goes looking for his children to bring us back to him (Luke 15:20).

Jesus died for all who’d give their sin to Jesus – all who’d turn from sin and toward God through simple faith in Jesus (Romans 6:23). Those who do, God calls his friends.   

‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ John 15:13 NLT

Your sin can be gone (Romans 8:1). There’s forgiveness and eternal relationship with God on offer to all who’d come at no cost to ourselves (John 14:2). God’s paid for it by Jesus’ blood.

And this is good news. It’s gospel.