The Five Essentials of the Gospel of Salvation, the Gospel of Christ
1. Who Jesus Is: Without proper knowledge of who Jesus was and is, the gospel would be meaningless. If Jesus died as an ordinary man, not as the Messiah, God in the flesh, the Gospel is meaningless, pointless. Jesus Christ himself thought it of such importance that he asked his disciples in Matthew 16:14, "Who do men say that I, the Son of man am?" Then after the disciples gave all their answers, he asked them in verse 15 more directly, "But who do you say that I am?". Clearly he's going a certain place with that question. Important question for anybody, everybody who has ever lived. You should be able to answer that, and by the grace of God, answer that correctly, and mean it in your heart. The answer that you would give to that question is so, so important in your life, and the life of anyone being drawn to Christ. What, who do you say Jesus is? You know, confession to that, the answer to that can determine even what is in your heart as far as salvation goes, are you really in the process of being saved, do you really know God? The answer to that, 1st John 4:15 says, "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God." Peter as we see there in verse 16 of Matthew 16, says "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 1st John 5:5 says, "Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." So first, as an essential part of the Gospel of Salvation, we have to understand that Jesus Christ is God, God the Son. Further proof from Jesus' own mouth would not hurt. Jesus stated in John 8:56-58, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am." Jesus just identified himself as "I am". The Jews knew who "I am" was. And because Jesus referred to himself as the "I am" they took up stones to stone him, as the next verse shows. Why? Because to state you were God, if you were an ordinary person, was blasphemy. That is why they took up stones to stone him, as the next verse says, "Then they took up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by." Why did the Jews think Jesus had just stated that he was God? The Old Testament in Exodus identifies who "I am" is. Let's look. Exodus 3:13-14, "And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." Jesus just identified himself in John 8 as the great "I AM", the one whom the Israelites knew as Yahweh, the very one who led the Israelites out of Egypt, the God of the Old Testament. This very God of the Old Testament became God the Son, as stated in Jesus Christ's own words out of his own mouth. So we see, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Great I AM came to earth as God the Son and would sacrifice himself for the sins of mankind, everybody. One man, greater than all the men who have ever lived, the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all physical matter, would become the sacrifice for sin, all sin. So it's critical to understand and know who Jesus Christ is. [to read further proof of who Jesus Christ is see: http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/1stcoming.htm.]
2. We Are All Sinners, Lost In Our Sins: Also we saw, knowing you are a sinner, beyond hope for salvation on your own is critical to the knowledge of salvation. All these facts are fairly simple. Romans 3:9-12, "What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is not one that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." So if we're all sinners, the Law of God has already condemned us to death, the 2nd death, without hope, as verse 20 states, "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." So we all need a Savior to rescue us from the 2nd death, destruction in the Lake of Fire spoken of in Revelation 20:14-15. [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/romans1-3.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/romans/Romans3-1-20page1.htm]
3. Jesus Christ Died To Pay For The Sins Of Mankind: Next it is important to understand, that just as the Passover lambs died, Jesus had to die. The Bible states that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins. As we see in 1st Corinthians 15:3, "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures." Jesus' sacrificial blood paid for the sins of mankind, all who believe. So belief in Jesus Christ and faith in his sacrificial death and blood, accepting Jesus into your life, asking for him to come into your life, and accepting his sacrifice for your sins is all part of the simple Gospel of Salvation. [see Matthew 26-27; John 19-20]
4. Jesus Christ Rose From The Dead: Also part of the Gospel of Salvation is that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Paul states the importance of this fact in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 12-14, "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures: and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures...Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." Peter, in his first sermon in Acts chapter 2 preached the first Gospel sermon, and that 'Gospel' was about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Result, 3,000 were baptized that very same day and the Church was in essence born that day. [see also John 20, Luke 24 and http://www.unityinchrist.com/lamb/lastsix.htm]
5. Jesus Christ Is Coming Back To Earth Again: This is often a part of the simple Gospel of Christ which is left out by some Christian denominations, and included by others. But it is included within all the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah, describing who Jesus Christ is. It is also included in Luke quoting a short description of Peter preaching the Gospel before the Sanhedrin giving us an accurate synopsis of what was included in the Gospel of Christ, or Salvation, in Acts 3:18-21. "But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which was before preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his prophets since the world began."
Peter in his sermon in Acts 2 and Paul in 1st Corinthians 15 plainly identify what the Gospel of Salvation, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is
In Acts 2, the apostle Peter in his first sermon, given on the Day of Pentecost, just after the manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the 120 disciples, clearly identified what the Gospel of Salvation is in the content of his sermon, which resulted in the calling of 3,000 people as believers in Jesus Christ, which gave birth to the early Christian Church of God in Jerusalem. Let's analyze this sermon and see what's in it, and see if any of those 5 elements of the Gospel of Salvation I listed above show up in Peter's first evangelistic sermon. Acts 2:17-21, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: and I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: and it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Now that was quoted from Joel 2:28-32, most definitely a 2nd Coming of the Messiah prophecy. So there we see in Peter's first Gospel sermon which drew 3,000 souls to Christ and baptism point # 5 of our definition for what the Gospel of Salvation is. Next, we have Acts 2:22, "Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves know..." Peter has just identified Jesus as the Messiah to these people, who Jesus was and is, point # 1 in our definition of what the Gospel of Christ is. Acts 2:23-24...32-35, "Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it...This Jesus hath God raised up, wherewith we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit], he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool." Here we see point #2, they're wicked sinners guilty of the blood of Christ and in need of a Savior and forgiveness (verse 22), and points # 3 and 4, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ listed by Peter in his first Gospel sermon. Verse 36, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." Peter just gave point # 1 of our definition of the Gospel of Salvation here, he identified who Jesus of Nazareth was, he was and is the Christ, the Messiah. After hearing this dynamic Gospel sermon the peopled asked Peter "Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (verse 37) Peter's answer is the right one, and how the early Church brought a new believer into the fold, Acts 2:38-39, "Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit]. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." How many responded to Peter's call of repentance and baptism? Verse 41, Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Ok, "by the mouth of two witnesses shall every word be established. " We have seen and dissected the apostle Peter's first Gospel sermon and clearly seen the 5 points which make up our definition of what the Biblical Gospel of Salvation, the Gospel of Christ is. Now lets turn to 1st Corinthians 15 to see what Paul's definition is. Clearly in these first two verses, the apostle Paul labels this as "the gospel." 1st Corinthians 15:1-2, "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." Next we have the three major points of the gospel listed in fast order, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, points # 1, 3 and 4 of our definition of what the Gospel of Salvation is, in verses 3-4, "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ [point # 1, he identifies Jesus as Christ, the Messiah] died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried [point # 3, the death and burial of Jesus Christ], and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures [point #4 of our definition of the Gospel of Christ or Salvation]: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once..." verses 12-18, "Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished..." Paul is spelling out the real importance of point #4, that of Christ being raised from the dead. These points are not silly little arbitrary points some theologian thought up in his head, they have been handed down to us by the two head apostles in the Church of God, the apostles Peter and Paul, the preaching of which brings spiritual fruit (Acts 2:41). Finally Paul gives proof, eye-witnesses, living proof of these Gospel facts, Acts 2, verses 5-6. Next point, point # 5, the 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ, coupled to a most important event in the Gospel of Salvation, our resurrection to immortality at his 2nd Coming. Paul gives analogies for this event from verses 12-48, and then spells it out clearly in verses 49-56. 1st Corinthians 15:49-56, "And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; [Comment: so the real Kingdom of God a believer should be interested in is not the coming kingdom of God to this earth to rule over it physically, but entry into the spiritual kingdom of God, as spirit-beings in the resurrection to immortality. Yes, we will be rulers, kings and priests, ruling under Christ on this physical earth, when his kingdom comes to earth with him. But the kingdom we should be interested in can't be entered while we are flesh and blood.] neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep [i.e. die], but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, [When???] at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound [cf. Revelation 11:15-19], and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law." We have clearly seen from two witnesses, the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul, what the Gospel of Christ is, all 5 points of this Gospel.
What's next? Confession and calling upon the name of the Lord
And as John 14 and Acts 2 show us, when we recognize these simple things and ask Jesus into our lives, he and God the Father enter into us by placing the Holy Spirit into us, and we become born-again believers in Jesus Christ, Christians or Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua haMeshiach. [Jesus explained this to Nicodemus in John 3:1-21.] So when one has come to see his true deplorable condition, and that Christ died to pay for his or her sins, and rose again (and will return again to this earth), the next step is for that individual to call out to the Lord, acknowledging him as the Lord of their life, and ask him to come into his or her life. Romans 10 shows this, and often Evangelicals use this in their altar calls. It is Biblical, but it is not the only thing a person needs to do. Let's read it. Romans 10:8-12, "But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him."
One who truly believes Jesus Christ died to pay for their sins and rose again, and has called out to him, acknowledging him as their Savior and Lord, one who now believes this core message about Christ, now being indwelt by God's Holy Spirit, will "repent", that is change his or her mind about their dead works of sin in the past, and be baptized because of the remission of those sins. As we'll see in Acts 2:38, this was the Biblical model. Acts 2:38, "And Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost [Holy Spirit]." Often these two steps, asking Jesus into one's life, and baptism, in the early Christian Church, as seen throughout the Book of Acts, was an event that was all rolled up into one, it happened more or less simultaneously. That is why some denominations, reading Acts, feel the Holy Spirit will not be given except upon baptism. It usually happened this way with the early Church, but not always, as seen in Acts 8-10 with Cornelius and his family. He was baptized after he received the Holy Spirit. So right within the Book of Acts, we see it can go both ways.
When people come to understand these five simple points, what then?
When people have come to understand these five simple facts, recognizing who Jesus Christ is, God the Son, recognizing they are hopeless sinners, recognizing Jesus Christ came as their personal Savior and died to pay for their sins, and recognizing he rose to life and lives to continue to save us through his life, indwelling us through the Holy Spirit, they are ready for a radical change in their life. How? By asking Jesus into our lives. The early Christians did this through repentance and baptism, as Peter said in Acts 2. Knowing who Jesus Christ is, and that he died on the cross to pay for our sins, the sins of the world, accepting that sacrifice and asking Jesus Christ into one's life is the simple Gospel of Salvation in action. Then if you read John 14, it will show you how Jesus Christ and God the Father come into a believer's life, by the indwelling Holy Spirit. What we were not able to do concerning obedience to the Law of God becomes possible through the power of God's Holy Spirit, which now indwells the believer. Then with Jesus acting within us through the Holy Spirit which indwells the new-believer, the believer is progressively brought more and more into harmony with God's Law as he or she walks through life with Jesus and the Father (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34). Salvation is a free gift, and we now live changed and changing lives in Christ, and we live these lives by faith, a faith that comes into us by that same Holy Spirit. It's that simple. That's orthodoxy, the orthodox teaching of the Bible. The word orthodox simply means "right teaching." Orthodox knowledge means proper knowledge.
There was a 'Jewish' gospel being preached from the Maccabees until the time of Christ
But the Gospel of Salvation is quite simple. It is different than the gospel or good news of the coming Kingdom of God which Jesus will establish at his 2nd coming (which is only part of the Gospel of Salvation). It is how people enter into a living relationship with Jesus Christ and God the Father by having the Holy Spirit enter into them, once they have come to understand these five essential points listed at the beginning of this article. There are some Sabbatarian Church of God denominations that teach a gospel about the coming Kingdom of God at the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, sort of ignoring the first 4 points. This is not a wrong gospel, but merely an expanded Biblical view taken from all the Old and New Testament prophecies, to show how God intends to redeem the whole world at and after the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, bringing the world into a clear understanding of the Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Salvation as well. It is a Biblical view, and not a perversion of the gospel. God can, and has called people to salvation by their hearing of this "gospel." But it is not the Gospel of Salvation or Christ. In reality, this 'Jewish gospel' is the Biblical exposition of the 5th point I gave in the simple Gospel of Salvation. So although the 'gospel' about the coming Kingdom of God that will be brought about through Jesus Christ's 2nd coming is not "the Gospel of Salvation" it is an integral part of it, and not the other way around. The confusion comes when people think this 'Jewish gospel' is the Gospel preached by Paul and the others. It is not. You can take the 5th point within the simple Gospel of Salvation and expand upon it, coming up with the whole Biblical prophetic scenario about the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God physically on this earth, and in this way make the gospel of salvation include that teaching. It is not wrong as long as you include the other points. Point 5 is the way Salvation will be brought to the whole world after Jesus Christ's return. But even then, those who come to salvation will still go through points 1 through 4. Point 1 (Who is Jesus Christ) can be expanded in a similar fashion, for we see point 1 would include all four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as well as any description of who Yahweh was in the Old Testament, for Yahweh was the pre-incarnate Christ. But we must be careful not to confuse any one point in the simple gospel of Salvation for the entire Gospel. You might say all the other information is merely the Biblical exposition of each point in the simple Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Salvation. Point 2, "we are all sinners," well, you could include most of the Bible to expound on and prove that point, as well as many secular history books. Do you get my point? Hope so. The Jews from the Maccabees onward to the time of Jesus Christ had a gospel, which taught to the best of their understanding the prophecies of the Coming Messiah and what they termed "the World to Come", what we would understand as the prophecies about Jesus Christ's 2nd coming and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth (I often call this "the Jewish Gospel"). The very active evangelistic preaching of the Jews throughout the Diaspora to the Gentiles brought many Gentiles during the Maccabean period into their synagogues to worship the One true God, Yahweh. This group became known as "the God-fearers". So, simple Gospel of Christ, Gospel of Salvation, preached by Paul and the apostles, some groups preach 4 points, some 5. Bible seems to include 5 simple points.
The Great Commission to the Church
We must realize that the core message about Christ which makes up the simple Gospel of Christ, Gospel of Salvation, does not, in itself, contain any instructions about what we as new-believers must do. We must only believe and accept Christ into our lives. One who truly believes will call upon God, repent and be baptized. But all of these actions, and all of our other steps of obedience occur after and as a result of truly believing the core message of the simple Gospel. This is made clear in the order of events outlined by Jesus when he gave the apostles The Great Commission for the Church in Matthew 28:19-20. Let's read it:
1,) "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations," Mark 16:15 has: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." 2) "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost..." 3) "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." (King James Version)
So we see Jesus' command clearly lists three separate steps, one of which has to do with non-believers (preaching the Gospel, to the whole world) and two of which have to do with believers and those who are becoming believers. 1), The first command involves evangelism, presenting the core message of the Gospel of Salvation to the whole world, composed of unbelievers, so that those God is calling can be led to believe it, change his or her mind, repent, and call on the name of the Lord. Paul shows this in the very next verses in Romans 10 after he defines what many call "the sinner's prayer". He says, Romans 10:14-15, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'"
2), The second step is baptizing those who have believed "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost". Coming to Christ by calling on him, followed by baptism (or all rolled up into one) is the second essential step outlined in the Great Commission of Jesus to the Church, leading people to this after their evangelistic efforts have brought some people this far along. Step 2 in the Great Commission is the first baby-step of the new-believer. Baptism is definitely a part of the process. 3), The third step, which is essential for all babes in Christ, they need nourishment, like all babies do. The Church is called "the mother of us all", and Jesus gave this essential third step in his Great Commission to the Church, a command to spiritually nourish those who had just received Christ and been baptized, "teaching them to observe all things I commanded you." This is the job of individual congregations whose evangelism has brought new-believers into their congregations.
Those who believe the simple message of the Gospel of Salvation, Gospel of Christ---1) who Jesus is, 2) that we are all sinners beyond hope, 3) that Jesus died to pay for our sins, and was buried, 4) and that he rose again on the third day, 5) and that he will come again, and that our ultimate salvation is intrinsically wrapped up in that 2nd coming---this all leads a person to call out to God, asking Jesus into his or her life, which begins their having a direct relationship with God, through repentance and baptism, receiving the Holy Spirit---and all this followed by spiritual growth (the lifetime sanctification process). I want to make this perfectly clear, attendance at church meetings and performance of any particular denominational church rituals are not an essential part of the message of the Gospel of Salvation. The Gospel of Christ is a message about Jesus Christ, who he was and is, what he did for us sinners who wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell without his sacrificial death, burial and resurrection, and our asking and acceptance of Jesus into our lives---and once he's in our lives via the indwelling Holy Spirit, he transforms us into his image by writing God's laws into our hearts and minds (Jeremiah 31:31-3; Hebrews 8:6-13).
1. Who is Jesus Christ? Log onto:
2. We're all sinners, in need of a Saviour:
3. He died and was buried, remained in the tomb for three days and nights:
4. He is risen! Jesus rose from the dead:
5. Jesus Christ is coming to earth again and will set up his kingdom on earth:
The Early Christian Church:
[Note: This article was run by the leader of a major Sabbatarian Church of God, and he gave it his overwhelming approval as being a solid Biblical presentation of what the Gospel of Christ, or Gospel of Salvation is.]