What is the Gospel?

In the New Testament, the “gospel of the kingdom” (εὐαγγέλιον τῆς βασιλείας) is the message that God’s new creation work, new covenant plan, and new exodus path have arrived in the Righteous One, Jesus of Nazareth, the Faithful Israel in whom the story of God’s covenant people reaches its glorious climax. In fulfillment of Israel’s scripture, Jesus lived the perfectly sinless life that God commanded His covenant people to live, died the punishing death that God justly required them to die, and was raised victoriously from the dead as the inauguration of the new creation work which God had planned. The good news of the gospel is that the new King, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has arrived, and all the Caesars of this earth are no longer Lord—but Christ alone.

At the cross, according to the eternal plan of the triune God, Jesus, the Son of God, underwent exile, and was voluntarily punished by the wrath of God as a substitute for sinners in order that they may be counted right before God when responding to His gracious initiative in faith, where they are then brought into union with Jesus, so that what is true of Jesus becomes true of them. Jesus’ substitutionary death means a climactic end to the power of sin, a dramatic demolition of the demonic powers at work in the world, and the glorious, gracious, loving rescue of sinners from the judgment to come by making atonement for their transgressions.

Jew or Gentile, a Christian, therefore, is anyone who by faith has been recreated by the Holy Spirit, or born-again, participating in the death and resurrection life of Jesus in which all things are made new. Just as Jesus has been raised from the dead, so we too have newness of life. His death has become our death. His life has become our life. The beauty of the good news of God’s grace is that even while we remained on the perilous path to self-ruin, Jesus liberated us from the painful prisms of sin and demolished our depressing self-condition with the free gift of permanent and ever-increasing joy in Him. 

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was “the beginning of heaven” (Beale), “the embryonic principle of cosmic transformation” (Ferguson), and “the womb of the new aeon.” (Vos) When the resurrected Lord Jesus stood, resigned His grave clothes, and left the tomb—He did so as the embodied presence of the very future which God had promised—a brand new universe—with a new humanity, on a new earth, worshipping their God and Savior King whose life, death, and resurrection ushered in the restoration of all things. When God raised Jesus from the dead, all of the world’s sad histories of misery and pain were victoriously usurped by the presence of the future.

And though this new creation work under the Lordship of Jesus Christ is dynamically present in power, it also anticipates a consummation at the return of Christ—where an eternal life of infinite joy in God’s presence will be graciously rewarded to those who repent and confess that Jesus is Lord, the risen King, and place their faith in Him—but eternal punishment to those who seal themselves in the destructive consequences of sin by refusing to participate in the new creation in Christ and receive God’s justifying gift of grace.

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