What is the gospel? The gospel, the ‘good news’, is this…
In a world such as ours, full of people such as us – talented, beautiful, full of unimaginable potential, and yet apart from our Creator, ultimately, broken, restless, self-absorbed, and lost – God, at a moment in time, took it upon himself to join in creation and put everything back to right. God, full of love, looked upon the world and all that’s gone wrong, and instead of simply giving us instructions for how to maybe do a bit better, or how to merely improve our situation, our Creator did the unimaginable... God in Christ left home and entered into the middle of our brokenness - our pain, our frailty, our shame, our guilt, our regret, our sickness, our selfishness, our sin, and even death itself. God stepped down from heaven, became mortal, and gave his life to rescue us. At a moment in time, Jesus – hanging on a cross, suffering the most debased execution in the history of mankind – not only bore the pain of all our sin, but even received sin's penalty of death in his own humanity. Like all things subjected to the curse of sin, Jesus the sinless one, bore our sin and died.
On a Friday evening, nearly 2000 years ago, JESUS DIED FOR US.
Jesus, the man who knew nothing but love for God and fellow man, freely suffered a loveless death, as he took into his own body the anguish of our pain, our frailty, our shame, our guilt, our regret, our sickness, our selfishness, our sin, and even death itself. And he did it for the glory of His Father and the good of us all. He died so that the world might know the life and the love of God that Jesus, from the outset of eternity, had always known. However... His death only was just the start.
Three days later, JESUS ROSE BACK TO LIFE.
The Faithful One, the man who lived the life to which we have all only ever aspired, and yet died the death which God’s holy law inevitably required, did what we could not. Where humanity had previously failed, God in Christ - humanity's advocate - faithfully accomplished his own ultimate purpose for us. That is to say, in living fully, in faithfully living out God's vision for human life, Jesus fulfilled all righteousness.’ Which means… He not only died for sin, but he conquered it as well!
Stepping out of the tomb, JESUS TRIUMPHED OVER EVIL.
Having disarmed his enemy, Jesus left death and even the devil itself to choke on dust, as he rose from the grave 100% victorious. Which is really good news! And yet, it gets even better than that! Because in the wake of God’s victory, something else also began to happen… In the wake of death’s defeat, a new age began: the age of resurrection life! When Jesus exited the grave, the same Spirit who was at work then – the very Spirit whom Jesus himself promised to send us – began to be ‘poured out.’ Like a tsunami of life, the Spirit came and began to flood hearts, and a new, beautiful kind of God-infused life began to go viral. A joyful life! A hope-filled life! A light-shining-out-of-darkness-life! The kind of life that announces to a world such as ours, full of people such as us: Heaven’s kingdom is beginning to break out!!! And break out it’s done! Because in fact, for now nearly 2000 years, wherever Jesus’ disciples have gone, signs of His presence – in healing, generosity, mercy, freedom, joy, justice, rest, faith, hope, love and more – have followed! And like light peaking through the cracks from the inside of an old fractured bottle, the Spirit of God has continued to break out in and through the lives of every one of His true and humble followers.
Because JESUS HAS INVITED EACH ONE OF US TO GET PERSONALLY INVOLVED.
Which brings us finally to perhaps the best part of all… The good news is that not only has Jesus died for us, or conquered death, or even vanquished evil for us... It's not only that He’s even invited us to participate with him in his great and eternal redemption project. The gospel is that God has done all that, and that he's done it all in a way that we might experience his life - new life - as his adopted sons and daughters. Not as employees, mercenaries, or some kind of paid professionals, but as family members, co-heirs, brothers and sisters, full-fledged members of the family of God! Ultimately, this is what it all builds up to – God’s love, our plight, and Jesus’ great rescue mission – our inclusion in God’s family is the height of the redemption story.
Because God joined creation to restore all things THROUGH HIS FAMILY!
Imagine the implications! Jesus described it like this: While we were far-gone, lost, covered in filth, and still trying to figure out a way to work it all out, the Creator of the universe left home to come and find us. Then one day, somehow, we wake up and realize that our way isn’t exactly working out (to put it mildly). We finally come to our senses and admit that we’re lost, and that out there someplace is a home and a family that we should have never let go of. And so, with all the humility we can muster, we get up and turn around. Still covered in a lifetime of sin, we begin the long journey home. But then... All of sudden, to our utter astonishment, having barely even taken a single step forward, there in the distance, we see our Heavenly Father! And we see that He’s not just waiting around; He’s running straight for us! With arms open and tears of joy filling His eyes, He embraces us, kisses us, takes our old worn out rags, and puts His own clean clothes on us. But then what happens next is truly unfathomable. As every angel in heaven holds their breath, the King of the universe gently takes our hand in his, and puts on our finger the royal family insignia, the ring that means we belong. And then He declares for all of the cosmos to hear, ‘My child... You're alive again! And you're home. Let the celebration begin!!!’ And all of heaven erupts with joy!
Such love! Such grace! Such passion! Such mercy! WHAT A BEAUTIFUL GOD!
That is the gospel.
 This phrase requires a relatively lengthy explanation in and of itself.