What Is The Gospel & How Do We Obey It?
How do you define the gospel?
Seems like a trivial question but it plays a role in how you understand salvation. Most people would sum up the gospel as the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is correct, however, I don’t think that is all the gospel is.
Throughout the gospels, Jesus is preaching the gospel of the kingdom, was He preaching about his death, burial, and resurrection? He spoke about his death directly 3 times in the Scriptures, all 3 times were only with his disciples. Consider these passages,
Matthew 16:21-23 “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
Matthew 17:22-23 “As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.”
Matthew 20:17-19 “And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
Now consider these passages that reference the gospel.
Matthew 11:5 "the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."
Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Mark 1:14-15 “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in he gospel.”
Acts 15:7 “And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.”
Acts 20:24 “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
1st Corinthians 15:1-4 "Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel that I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,”
The question that needs to be answered is what is the gospel?
"The term gospel is found ninety-nine times in the NASB and ninety-two times in the NET Bible. In the Greek New Testament, gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion (occurring 76 times) “good news,” and the verb euangelizo (occurring 54 times), meaning “to bring or announce good news.” Both words are derived from the noun angelos, “messenger.” In classical Greek, an euangelos was one who brought a message of victory or other political or personal news that caused joy. In addition, euangelizomai (the middle voice form of the verb) meant “to speak as a messenger of gladness, to proclaim good news.” Further, the noun euangelion became a technical term for the message of victory, though it was also used for a political or private message that brought joy.
That both the noun and the verb are used so extensively in the New Testament demonstrate how it developed a distinctly Christian use and emphasis because of the glorious news announced to mankind of salvation and victory over sin and death that God offers to all people through the person and accomplished work of Jesus Christ on the cross as proven by His resurrection, ascension, and session at God’s right hand. In the New Testament these two words, euangelion and euangelizo, became technical terms for this message of good news offered to all men through faith in Christ." - Bible.org/article/what-gospel
The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia summarizes the gospel message this way:
The central truth of the gospel is that God has provided a way of salvation for men through the gift of His Son to the world. He suffered as a sacrifice for sin, overcame death, and now offers a share in His Triumph to all who will accept it.
When talking about the gospel and salvation some people make the case that obedience is a part of the plan of salvation. This argument is based on these passages,
1st Peter 4:17 "For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome of those who do not obey the gospel of God?"
2nd Thessalonians 1:6-8 "Since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus."
Romans 10:16 "For they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?”
So the obvious question is what does it mean to obey the gospel? We have seen that the gospel is defined as to mean good news, but once we understand that, how do we obey good news? Let’s look at the word obey and see if we can find an answer.
The Greek word used in 1st Peter 4:17 for "obey not" is the word "apeitheo" which means to disbelieve (willfully and perversely). To obey the gospel in this context simply means to believe or be persuaded by it. It is the same Greek word used in 2nd Thessalonians 1:8. This is further clarified when reading these passages with Romans 10:16, Pauls says they have not all obeyed the gospel, how does he know? He quotes Isaiah when he says, who has BELIEVED what he has heard from us?
“Obeying the gospel is to illustrate by our actions that we believe Jesus Christ is the redemptive plan of the One True God. God, Himself, handed down a very important piece of “Good News”. That “News” is Jesus Christ as Redeemer. The people who were persecuting the church of the Thessalonians were not treating the Gospel of Jesus Christ as if it were actually handed down by the Almighty Creator Himself (2 Thess. 1:4-6). Instead, they were persecuting the church, as if Jesus were just some common religious idea. Obeying the Gospel means that we live a life oriented around the unique, holy, glory of Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 1:9-10). Obeying the gospel is a faith in God Himself.” - https://effectsofgrace.com/blog/obey-gospel/
Romans 1:1-5 "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among the nations."
Often when people quote this verse they tend to misread it, instead of saying the obedience of faith, they usually say "To bring about the obedience of THE faith." which drastically changes the meaning of the text.
Here's an exerpt from the book "What Does God Want? by Dr. Michael Heiser,
"Notice that Paul described his ministry of telling people the good news as “bringing about the obedience of faith.” He wanted those who heard his message to “hold fast” to what he said. How do you “obey” the gospel? Get baptized? Give money? Behave well? Don’t be a jerk? Help the poor? Those are all worthwhile things, but No. God wants “the obedience of faith.” You obey the gospel by believing it.
Did you also notice that Paul didn’t say “the obedience of comprehension”? We may not completely understand things like God becoming a man in Jesus, or how the resurrection could happen. That’s okay. God doesn’t demand we figure it all out and then get back to him to take a final exam. He wants belief. Understanding why these things are rational can wait.
The content of the gospel is God’s offer to forgive you and give you a permanent place in his family. His offer shows his love and kindness. The Bible sometimes uses the word “grace” in the place of those terms. Since there is no greater power, God wasn’t coerced into the offer. No one is twisting his arm. He offers you salvation because he wants you. All he asks is that you believe.
That is the good news of the gospel."