For those of us who know Christ, two simple words hold the key to life everlasting: The Gospel.
This phrase is like sweet honey to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. To believe the Gospel means that we have peace with God, that we have a heavenly Father, and that we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom. Believing the Gospel means that regardless of what happens in this lifetime, we can rest in the beautiful and perfect plan of a sovereign, infinite, all-powerful God.
However, what tastes of sweet honey to us is bitter to the unbeliever. Paul describes the cross as “foolishness to the perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). That is why we must know the Gospel, live the Gospel, and, most importantly, share the Gospel. For the Gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16-17). And although there are many ways to share the Gospel, there are ultimately four truths that must depart our mouths and enter the ears of the unbeliever if what we claim to preach truly is the Gospel. It is these four truths that I intend to unpack in this article. My hope and prayer are that you will commit these truths to memory so that you may “always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
So, what are the four pillars of the Gospel? Let’s break them down one at a time, starting with the first pillar of the Gospel: GOD.
People must understand that God is the creator of everything (Gen. 1:1). Not only did God create everything, but He created everything perfect and good (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31) because He is perfectly holy (1 John 1:5). Because God is righteous, and there is no evil in Him (Psalm 92:15), He requires perfect obedience to His law (James 2:10).
Instinctively you may look at God’s requirement for perfect obedience and begin to squirm in your chair, as we all should. This is because not only have we defiled the law of God, but it is, in fact, consistent with our very nature to do so. This brings us to the second pillar of the Gospel: MAN.
There is a separation that exists between God and man. Not because God is holy, but because man is sinful. Ever since Eve doubted God’s word in the garden and dismissing it for the lie of Satan (Gen. 3:6), man has plunged into an ever-sinking pit of darkness. Man is separated from God because man has broken God’s law (Romans 3:10, 23). Because of this broken relationship, man must pay the eternal penalty for sin which is eternal separation from the God who made us in death (Romans 6:23). And, regardless of how much we try or how much effort we put forth, the infinite weight of our depravity is that man cannot save himself by good works (Titus 3:5).
Do you see the problem here? I certainly do. And if this is where the story ended, I’d be curled up on my bed, steeped in tears instead of writing this article. But God had a plan. Before the foundations of the Earth, God had a plan for the redemption of mankind. This brings us to the “good news” and the third pillar of the Gospel, CHRIST.
It is in the name of Jesus that man has hope. Why? Because unlike Adam of the garden, this second Adam fulfilled the law of God. Christ came to earth as both God and sinless man (Col. 2:9). Christ demonstrated God’s love by dying on the cross to pay sin’s penalty (Romans 5:8; 2 Cor. 5:21). Most importantly, Christ defeated death on the cross, rose from the grave, and is alive today (1 Cor. 15:4)!
Jesus, a pure and innocent man, paid the price for our sin. Because of His perfect and sinless existence, His life, which He freely gave, redeems all who trust and obey Him. This brings us to the fourth and final pillar of the Gospel, RESPONSE.
Unlike the easy-believism of the day, which is a stain on the work of Christ, or the misdirected pettiness of a works-based Gospel, there is a critical response of those who would lay claim to the glorious name of Christ. As sinners, we must first respond by repenting of all that dishonors God (Isaiah 55:7; Luke 9:23). This repentance is not to be confused with guilt. Guilt is the unbearable heaviness we feel when our conscience is seared by our sin, as was the case for Judas when he hung himself following the betrayal of Jesus. No, repentance is when, in feeling and recognizing the weight of our sin, we turn from it and sprint towards Christ.
It is this repentance of sin that platforms the second response, that we must respond in belief in Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives (Rom. 10:9). Like all servants to their masters, the only acceptable response to a command given is the phrase “certainly, my Lord.” This response is not reluctant or burdensome (1 John 5:3) but is joyful and full of gratitude, knowing that our Lord has plucked us from eternal damnation and has brought us into His family as the first fruits of His labor! We are now the adopted children of a heavenly Father, and we will reign with Jesus in His literal thousand-year reign on Earth (Rev. 20:4) as He finishes what was started six-thousand years ago in the garden (Gen. 1:26, 28).
Taking the Next Step
If, in reading this, you’ve recognized that you’ve not repented of your sins and placed your hope and belief in Christ as Savior, then fall to your knees and ask that God would make you a new creation. Then, reach out to us and let us help you find a reliable, Bible-teaching church in your area, and let’s get you connected with a body of believers in your area.
If you’ve already placed your belief in Christ as Lord, then task yourself with committing the Gospel to memory and sharing it with someone in your neighborhood this week. To help with this, I’ve listed an outline version of the Gospel that you can commit to memory (see below). Start first with memorizing each section’s single word headers (GOD, MAN, CHRIST, RESPONSE). Then, memorize the subpoints (i.e., God is the creator). Finally, memorize each of the supporting verses, so you understand that it is not my words which you are preaching, but the very Word of Christ. These three steps will prepare you to share this wonderful and glorious “good news” with all whom the Lord will bring into your life.
- God is the creator (Genesis 1:1)
- God is holy (1 John 1:5; Matthew 5:48)
- God requires perfect obedience to His law (James 2:10)
- Man has broken God’s Law (Romans 3:10, 23)
- Man will pay the eternal penalty for sin (Romans 6:23)
- Man cannot save himself by good works (Titus 3:5)
- Christ came to earth as both God and sinless man (Colossians 2:9)
- Christ demonstrated God’s love by dying on the cross to pay sin’s penalty (Romans 5:8, 2 Corinthians 5:21)
- Christ rose from the grave and is alive today (1 Corinthians 15:4)
- We as sinners must respond in repentance of all that dishonors God (Isaiah 55:7, Luke 9:23)
- We as sinners must respond in belief in Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9)
For more on this topic, I highly recommend Greg Gilbert’s book, “What is the Gospel?” He uses a four-pillar type presentation of the Gospel but spends much more time unpacking these marvelous truths.
***The outline used above is adapted from an evangelism resource card available for purchase from Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA.
Companion Resource: This article is based on a deeper discussion we recently had on the For the Gospel Podcast. For more, listen to the episode: What is the Gospel?