“We believe that the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ—God’s very wisdom. Utter folly to the world, even though it is the power of God to those who are being saved, this good news is Christological, centering on the cross and resurrection: the gospel is not proclaimed if Christ is not proclaimed, and the authentic Christ has not been proclaimed if his death and resurrection are not central (the message is ‘Christ died for our sins . . . [and] was raised’).”
We’ve come to the point where we can focus specifically on the gospel. Everything we’ve said so far has been related to the gospel in some way, but now we will talk about the gospel itself. We confess that the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. This is a great place to start because there are so many “gospel stories” out there. Everyone is looking for good news, so it’s important for us to say that our gospel, the Christian gospel, is a message about who Jesus is and what he has done for us.
Paul tells the Corinthians that he delivered a message “of first importance . . . 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” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). In other words, the gospel is about Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. This might not seem like a strange claim, but let’s pause to consider how radical this claim is. We think the best news in the universe revolves around the death and resurrection of our Savior.
It’s no wonder, then, that Paul says that the gospel is “foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Part of the gospel message involves declaring that our Savior, our Redeemer, our King, actually died for us, his people. Our King conquered all of His enemies not by slaughtering them on the battlefield, but by dying on a cross. Here’s how Paul puts it in another place: “Christ canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:14-15). In other words, Christ’s death on the cross was where he conquered all of his (and our) enemies. That’s why we can also say that the gospel is “the power of God” for those of us who are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18). The cross, as foolish as it may seem to some, is actually nothing more than the wisdom of God, the way in which He has decided to redeem His people.
But if the gospel was only about the cross, it wouldn’t be good news. If Christ remained dead, why would we worship him? He might have accomplished something great, and that might be something for us to look back at with fondness. But if Christ remained dead, he could not have saved us from our sins. This is why the resurrection is so important. Our Savior, our Redeemer, our King was raised from the dead after three days. Death could not hold him or keep him in the grave. We need to let this radical truth seep into our bones: he was dead, but now he’s alive.
Paul says that Christ was “delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Romans 4:25). Christ died for our sins and was raised so that we would be made right with God. So if Christ wasn’t raised from the dead, we wouldn’t be right with God. That’s why Paul says that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). The resurrection is important because it functions as a kind of stamp approval for the work that Christ did. The resurrection proves that the work of Christ accomplished the will of God. So our faith is not in vain, our faith actually means something, because Christ lives.
The resurrection also proves Christ’s supremacy over all things. Not even death has authority over him. Death could not hold him because he is sovereign even over that. That’s why Paul says, “he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). That Christ is “before all things” demonstrates his absolute authority and supremacy. Paul then says that “he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent” (Colossians 1:18). Here again we see a reference to the supremacy of Christ, but notice also that the resurrection establishes that Christ is the “firstborn from the dead.” This is important for us because it tells us that we too will be resurrected. There is something after this which awaits us: life beyond the grave in the presence of Christ for all eternity. And this life was won for us, not by anything we had done, but because Christ died for our sins and was raised for our justification. He is supreme, and therefore we worship him for who he is and for what he has done for us. Praise God for the gospel, the message of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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