The word gospel literally means ‘good news’ in Greek.
The good news was that God has reached out to man to make a way for a relationship to be established
In the Old Covenant this was alluded to
61:1 "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
1 Chron 16:23-24
23 Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
24 Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.
In the New Covenant it arrived
The scriptures show that Jesus death for us was God's way that we could be brought into relationship.....our part is to BELIEVE!
"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. NKJV
2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 3 And He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs nor bag nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece.
4 "Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5 And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them."
6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. NKJV
2 Cor 5:18-21
18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. NKJV
Preaching was frequently accompanied with signs and wonders!
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. NKJV
"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." NKJV
2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. NKJV
6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. NKJV
22 Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. NKJV
So what exactly was the gospel?
God’s grace (His love and goodness and mercy and favor) extended towards man
Reconciliation with God through the work of Jesus...He died for us and bore ALL the sins of all mankind on the cross
Salvation by faith for those who believe
The guarantee was in Jesus resurrection from the dead
This is described in many places but the most frequently used scripture is
16 For God, salvation is a sovereign work which starts in GOD
so loved LOVE is His very nature and heart towards us
the world this love extends to ALL who would receive it
that He gave His only begotten Son, JESUS His son dying for us is the way
that whoever believes in Him Our part is to believe…trust…rely on
should not perish but have everlasting life. ETERNAL life is knowing God
2 Cor 11:3
3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. NKJV
The gospel is simple.....trust God and Jesus as His way of salvation.....He will cleanse you and look after the rest!
So what about repentance from sins?
(CAUTION ...One of the major identifiers of the fact that you are dealing with a cult is that membership requires an interview / confession session with a leader where the new members are required to 'repent or confess' all their past sins and where this session is recorded and can and WILL be used against you in future. GET OUT IMMEDIATELY)
Many churches today argue that because John the Baptist and Jesus both preached '"REPENT" that the first thing that must be preached as part of the gospel is repentance from sins. This ignores the fact that both John and Jesus came preaching ONLY to Israel who were under the Old Covenant. (John was 'the messenger of the OLD covenant' Mal 3:1 and his message was for Israel... Acts 13:24, Luke 16:1 Acts 13:24......and according to Jesus He also ONLY came preaching to ISRAEL...see the scriptures below) It seems that many religious 'legalists' want 'repentance from sins' to be preached as a pre-requisite to salvation claiming that those who don't repent of their sins before hearing the gospel are frequently not genuinely saved. ...on the contrary the bible show that those who focus on the 'flesh trying to cleanse itself' seldom come to a saving knowledge of a GOD who has done it ALL for us in Christ.
Brethren whether you can hear it or not...the message of REPENTING from sins was addressed to the Jews who HAD a covenant which they had broken. (Rom 3:20, Rom 5:13, Rom 7:8)
24 But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." NKJV (This is JESUS speaking)
8 Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: KJV
This is not to argue against christians repenting of sins when they fall AFTER THEY HAVE COME TO FAITH. Repentance will happen through our whole lives from the moment of salvation as the Spirit of God shows us how to walk with Him....and empowers us to overcome our weaknesses.
The Jews HOWEVER committed the one sin which results in people NEVER being saved…they rejected Jesus …their promised Messiah! For them to participate in the New Covenant they HAVE TO repent of this sin.
11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. NKJV
25 And all the people answered and said, "His blood be on us and on our children." NKJV
8 And when He (the Holy Spirit) has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; 11 of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. NKJV
The primary role of the Spirit is to bring us to Jesus ....if we reject the work of the Holy Spirit we will be left in our sins and under condemnation
36 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. NKJV
14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
17 "Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, NKJV
"Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." NKJV
And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!"
29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. NKJV
"You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, NKJV
This was the SPECIFIC sin which the Jews of Jerusalem were called to 'repent' of. If they did not repent of this sin they COULD not be saved!
24 Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins. NKJV
But 'killing Jesus' was not something which Jews in other cities…..or other nations (Gentiles).... had done!
The Samaritans were not told to repent
Paul the Jew was not told to repent....he just had the revelation that Jesus was Lord
The Jews at Antioch Jesus was preached as messiah...not repentance from sins
Jews at Thessalonica they were persuaded to believe that Jesus was the Christ (this change of mind is repentance)
Jews at Berea they searched the scriptures and believed
Were the Gentiles EVER told that they have to ‘repent of their sins' in order to be saved?
Repent in Greek means ‘change your way of thinking’….’turn from one way of thinking to another’…Let us see this in the scriptures!
The Eunuch said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
Cornelius and his house whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins
"Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life." NKJV
'Repentance unto life' is something GOD grants....not something man has to do (Acts 13:48)
Hellenists at Antioch a great number believed and turned ...this is repentance
Proconsul he believed the teaching of the Lord
The Gentiles at Antioch
48 Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. NKJV
Gentiles at Lystra turned to the living God
Gentiles generally the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.
Lydia at Thyatira The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul
Jailer at Philippi Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved
Greeks at Athens some men joined him and believed
Gentiles at Ephesus those who had believed through grace
The very act of believing in Jesus...ie turning from 'unbelief' ...towards God...is repentance!
17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.' NKJV
Turning from darkness to believing in the only true God is what brings forgiveness of sins…and sanctification is by faith! (rather than by our repentance and our own right behaviour!...2 Cor 5:19-21, Heb 10:14)
BUT note that there will be behavioural changes....as a consequence of the decision. The changes in behaviour are a demonstration of the reality of the transformation that occurs IN US when we turn to God.....and not the cause of or a precondition for salvation.
"Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. NKJV
Paul preached Jesus and not John the Baptist’s gospel of repentance from sins! (Acts 19:1-6) The repentance preached to the Gentiles was to TURN to God. This would produce the fruit of the Spirit ... (2 Tim 2:19...1 Cor 1:2). The works befitting repentance are those which FAITH in Christ's completed work for us produces...not our own religious works of the flesh.
Can a DEAD person repent of 'sin' and mean it...BEFORE God gives LIFE?
Insisting that a person must repent in order to be saved is like requiring a corpse to raise it's hand before applying a defibulator
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, NKJV
LIFE came first...WHILE WE WERE YET SINNERS ...then with HIS Spirit in us we are empowered to overcome sin!
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. NKJV
Brethren ...the first move belongs to GOD (it is the revelation of Jesus)....man is merely a 'respondent'
What was the gospel GOD preached to Abraham?
8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. NKJV
Did God tell Abraham that he had to 'repent of his sins first'? (so that he could come into the presence of 'a holy God')....or did He just come straight up to him and say...
Now the LORD had said to Abram:
"Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father's house,
To a land that I will show you.
2 I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." NKJV
GOD said "TRUST me and FOLLOW me.......and I WILL bless you".....This IS the gospel!
Surely Abraham was also a wicked sinner ....who needed too repent (even after this he still lied and pimped out his wife)... and change his ways ... before he could be 'holy enough to walk with God'? Not according to God N (even after this Abraham
Not according to the scriptures....walking with God was a consequence of his faith
6 And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. NKJV
So what about those scriptures which seem to suggest repentance must come first?
2 Cor 7:9-10
9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance . For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. NKJV
The context is clearly addressed to born again believers in Corinth (‘for the destruction of his BODY that his SPIRIT may be saved’) who had then sinned.
We ARE saved in our spirits by faith when we believe…. we become transformed in our bodies in response to Christ’s Spirit changing us into His image. This will be a lifelong process.
2 Peter 3:9
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. NKJV
This refers to ‘repentance to LIFE’….ie that which God grants us when we get the revelation that Jesus IS the Son of GOD…LORD and Saviour! This is ‘turning TO God’ ... from false gods to the only True God.
So what do we preach?
God’s grace towards man…your sins are forgiven if you believe in Jesus!
God’s way of salvation is for us to put our faith in, or to believe in, or to trust in Jesus…who became flesh.…lived a sinless life died for us…..and was raised by God for our salvation...and as irrefuatble proof!
Those who believe are saved and become ‘children of God’ and receive the Holy Spirit and are ‘born again’
Believing is not a mere mental ascent…..it is a heart conviction …which God gives to us when we accept by faith the revelation of who Jesus is …which results in the transformation of our lives - refer 'Born Again'.
Other presentations of the Gospel
2 Cor 5:18-21
18 Now all things are of God,
who has reconciled us to Himself
through Jesus Christ,
and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
19 that is, that God was in Christ
reconciling the world to Himself,
not imputing their trespasses to them,
and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ,
as though God were pleading through us:
we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us,
that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. NKJV
Coming to God in faith to be reconciled to Him is what is sufficient!
Notice that the only 'repentance' is to 'reconcile to God'.....ie this is what makes us righteous...not our own works of the flesh.
8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus
and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness,
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.
13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." NKJV
Calling out ...from your heart...to God in faith to save you is what is required!
In the New Testament BELIEVING in Jesus is the 'repentance' God is looking for.....this will produce a change in behavior as we walk with God.