What Is the GOSPEL?


Sermon Text: Romans 5:6-9
Sermon Series: “What/Who Is?” (#3)

Main Points:
I. The good news begins with bad news
II. The good news is the old news
III. The good news is now at work in the faithful

As we continue in the sermon series on ‘What is?’, my purpose is to revisit some areas of the foundations of our faith in Jesus Christ, and check the bearings of our life in the Lord and in His church. Often, we’re surprised by how much we’ve forgotten about the fundamental things of our life. We think we’d never forget certain things because they’re so basic and foundational but sometimes, we find that’s not the case. So, this sermon series is to check and recheck the basics of our faith, and today, I’d like to recall what the gospel we’ve heard and believe is.

So, what is the gospel? If anyone inquires, what would you answer to that person and say, ‘The gospel is this’? So, let us think about this together as the Holy Spirit speaks to us through the word.

First of all, the gospel or the good news of the Bible begins with bad news. Actually, this is true not only with the good news of the Bible, but also with all kinds of news that people consider good. This year we hear that the wheat harvest in WA would be about 25% higher than the 10-year average to 2020-2021 which is good news to wheat farming industry. But, it means the average harvest of the past 10 years was not as good as this year’s, doesn’t it? So far, several COVID-19 vaccines have been developed and they’re available for the benefit of many people. And it seems good news. But this is good news because the situation before these vaccines was bad.

However, this good news the Bible announces is fundamentally different from any and all good news of the world. Whereas people can measure things to distinguish good news from bad news, the bad news the Bible announces is something none of the world has ever thought about or realised. No one has ever noticed that his/her reality was and is that bad and fatal as the Bible declares.

This bad news is about people’s status in sin and its penalty. This bad news is about all people’s slavery to sin and their due payment in sin, that is, death. Rom. 1-2 are clear about this and declare that all have sinned, and none is righteous. This short passage in Rom. 5 we’ve read a minute ago agrees and says twice in vs. 6 and 8 that we were ‘sinners’ – in other words, we were dead in sin. And none of us are able to save ourselves from this misery in sin. This bad news that begins the gospel of the Bible tells us that we’re not on a sinking boat, not on a boat that rushes toward a cliff, but all have already sunk to the bottom of the bottomless pit of sin.

This is the beginning of the gospel, good news of the Bible, and the good thing this gospel brings to everyone’s ears is that there is a Saviour who can save all from sin. What makes this good news better is that that Saviour has already appeared to everyone and He is Jesus the Saviour. So, the gospel, good news of the Bible begins with bad news, that is, ‘You’re dead in sin!’, and points out to all a way of life, telling all people, ‘You need the Saviour, Jesus Christ, and only believe in Him!’

This good news is also the old news. The gospel the Bible preaches is not newly invented information about the status of people. Rather, this is the news proclaimed and announced thousands and thousands of years before us and has been declared to all generations up until now to the present generation. Our first Bible reading from Isa. 55 is a typical example of this old, ancient, news.

Hear what this old news talks about as recorded in Isa. 55:1, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” This old news (which is good news) is about the way of salvation. Those who are thirsty can come to the waters and drink and quench their thirst. All who are hungry and poor can come to a dining table and drink and eat and relieve their hunger and poverty. Remember here that this old and good news begins with bad news about people’s ‘thirst, hunger and poverty’ which people cannot remove or satisfy. And they’re called out to come to drink and come to buy and eat without price. They need the Physician; they need the Saviour of the world!

Since its first announcement at the garden in Eden following Adam’s Fall in sin, this good news for sinners was constantly and repeatedly declared. Generations after generations heard it, and no generation passed away without hearing this good news of the salvation of God. So, it’s old, ancient news.

Noah proclaimed to the world bad news of their sins, that is, God’s imminent judgment upon them, and he presented good news of salvation to everyone by showing them the ark of God. Likewise, Moses made it clear to the ears of Israel that God would raise up for them One to whom they must listen. Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, just to name a few, urged generations after generations to look to the Messiah God promised to send to save and deliver the thirsty, the hungry and the poor.

Then, finally, the promised Messiah, Saviour or Christ came to earth in flesh and bone like any of us. Even that happened about 2,000 years ago. Having come in the likeness of men, the Saviour Jesus showed the whole world that He was and is the One to whom all sinners must come and find salvation from sin and death! In this sense, this good news the Bible declares is the oldest, the most ancient news and only good news of salvation! It’s not what I or you or anyone of this generation has invented; it has been transferred down through generations, yet, fulfilled in and through Jesus Christ who was born 2,000 years ago and lived, then, though sinless, suffered and died and rose again!

Over these thousands of years, the message of this good news has never been changed or altered. All are sinful, thus, all are dead in sin; thus, all need a Saviour, Jesus Christ. So, all who come to Him will drink and their thirst will be quenched; all who come to Him shall drink and eat and their hunger and poverty will be removed and eternal satisfaction will fill their souls! This is the good news declared to all sinners. So, ‘come to Him who is the way, and the truth, and the life, and believe in Him and worship Him as your Saviour and Lord!’

This is not all of the good news we’ve heard and believed. The best part of the good news is that this good news is not just a message as an idea or concept, but the power of God that is at work in us the faithful.

For all who have come to the Saviour Jesus and drink from Him and eat with Him – in a word, trust and believe in Him – this good news opens our spiritual eyes to see; it opens our all spiritual senses to experience the power of God working mightily in us! So, we’re alive! You who believe in Jesus are the living; you look upward, and walk and run toward the place your Saviour is, that is, your eternal home.

Sin has long been defeated in you, thus, death is no longer any threat to you. In other words, your ‘thirst’ has been quenched, and your ‘hunger’ has already been relieved. Instead, you’re in abundance of the Lord’s provision. You’ve been eating and drinking with Jesus at His table! What we’ll participate shortly this morning, the Lord’s Supper, signifies that spiritual feast with Jesus! You’ve been in fellowship with the Spirit of God the Father and God the Son!

This is the good news Noah and Moses talked about, and prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah and Ezekiel sang and rejoiced in their spirit! This is exactly what Heb. 12:1-2 urges us, the faithful of the NT, as it says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also … run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the Founder and Perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” As Jesus despised the shame of the cross, the same power of God, the same joy and hope of God that ran through Jesus’ vein also runs through our spiritual veins. ‘So,’ says the author of Hebrews, ‘let us also run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, following Him our Lord and Saviour, having His joy in our soul!’

This is the good news of Jesus Christ – His power is at work in you and me and all who have come to Him, Jesus, through faith!

So, what is your answer to the question, ‘What is the gospel?’ The good news of the Bible is about sinful man and the way God prepared for sinners to come and be saved, that is, Jesus Christ. His invitation to sinners is to come and believe in the Lord Jesus and receive His life.

But that’s not all you need to remember. You must always remember that the good news is now at work in you powerfully! Jesus’ life is in you and His joy is yours forever!

So, trust God and remain confident and joyful in His power that is at work in you, and answer to all people that the gospel is, the good news is, Jesus Christ and believing Him as the Son of God! ***

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