People who attend our church only on Sunday mornings may grow tired of what they hear week after week. At this hour each Lord’s Day, I endeavor to share a message relating to Christ and the Gospel. I try to make each sermon a little different, but there are only a million ways to do it, meaning that over time there will be some repetition. If people want to hear other Biblical subjects then I encourage them to attend our 10:00, 6:00 and Wednesday evening services.

This morning, once again, I’d like to address the subject of the gospel. And before we begin, please notice the words I just used and the way I used them. “This morning I’d like to ADDRESS the subject of the gospel.” I didn’t say, I’m going to preach the gospel once again. What I hope to do today is to teach some things about the gospel.

Our opening scripture from I Corinthians is often used to give a definition of God’s good news – the gospel. Essentially, it is that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and then He was buried. But seventy-two hours after His entombment, He was resurrected – made alive – coming out of that tomb. That simple statement is one of the most important ever made. According to this scripture – which is God’s revelation – Christ Jesus, the Son of God, died for our sins. Certainly there could be more said to explain these few points, and usually more must be said before people actually reach out and trust the Saviour, but these are the bare bones of the gospel.

Have you ever studied the word “gospel” as it is found in the Bible? If you used one of the full concordances, a book which lists every use of all the major words in the Bible… Or if you used a computer program, asking it to list all the verses which use the word “gospel…” you’d see that there are just under a hundred scriptures. In other words, the gospel is a major subject and doctrine. It is the number one subject in the Bible. As you begin to read through those verses, you should see another word popping up again and again. “And this gospel… shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come.” “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” And in the cities of Lycaonia, “there they preached the gospel.” “So, much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome.” “From Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:”

I could go on an on, filling up this hour with scriptures like these, but let me just summarize them. The simple Greek word “euaggelion” – (yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on) – “the gospel” – is used 77 times in our Bibles. But the related word “euaggelizo” (yoo-ang-ghel-id’-zo) – “PREACH the gospel” – is used 55 times. Clearly, the ministry of each of the Lord’s churches is to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. But this morning, I want to shift gears and talk to you about the gospel, rather than to preach the gospel. I am praying that the effect will be the same, but for the sake of the gospel itself, I’d like to approach it just a little differently. I hope to leave you with the fact that the gospel is a story; the gospel is also a doctrine; it is a command; it is an invitation, and it is a promise.

The good news of the gospel is a STORY – a history of Christ and His love.

Beginning in eternity-past, God, knowing that the world would be populated with sinners, determined to rescue many of us from our sins. Part of that story of rescue describes the covenant which was made within the God-head, setting in motion the means of our deliverance. In the fulness of time, at the moment of God’s choice, God the Son was born. A being who is actually a divine spirit, took upon himself a human body. He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, in order to condemn sin in the flesh.

Condensing a story which I hope you have heard many times, after 33 years Christ Jesus was condemned to die – primarily for declaring that He was God’s Messiah and demanding that people turn from their sins. As Paul suggests in our scripture, this had been foretold through prophecy – often with meticulous detail. After being severely beaten and abused, Christ was nailed to a Roman cross, and very quickly He yielded up His life to death. He died. Then a couple gracious men, took Jesus’ body, burying it in a tomb which belonged to one of those men. Jesus’ disciples were absolutely devastated, but they stayed in touch for the most part until three days later when they learned that the tomb had been opened and Jesus’ body was missing. Then over the next few days and weeks, they re-met the Saviour, learning new facts and hearing of their ongoing responsibilities.

There have been thousands of books, written by men of various backgrounds and for differing reasons, who have retold that story – sometimes in hundreds of detailed pages. They have included details about the miraculous birth of Christ. They have talked about Jesus’ baptism and His temptation by Satan. They have published maps showing how Jesus and His disciples traveled from this place to that place. They have listed and described Jesus’ miracles. They have spoken in detail about His beating and about the ring of thorns that were pushed down onto His head. There is a lot more to this story than this. I suppose that John summarized it all when he wrote: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that he might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” – John 20:30-31. The gospel is a wonderful, dynamic and powerful story.

But its not only a tale to be told, it is a DOCTRINE – many doctrines.

The word “doctrine” is not particularly loved in modern Christendom, but it is a good Bible word. Essentially it means: “something which is taught.” Paul told his associate Titus: “Speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.” And the Apostle John wrote: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” Doctrine refers to teaching, and the doctrine of Christ is extremely important; it is the pathway to God.

The gospel is not only a story, it is God’s interpretation of that story. It is a doctrine or string of doctrines. For example, why did God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit first outline the story of the Gospel? The answer is: Because God knew and ordained that Adam would sin and fall into the need of a Saviour. Why were the details of Christ’s incarnation and crucifixion all planned, prophesied and brought to perfection? Because in His omniscience, God knew that you would one day come to the realization that you are a sinner and you need a Saviour. The gospel is Bible doctrine which flows in and out of the story of Christ.

For example, the gospel includes the doctrine of man’s depravity – sin has corrupted every part of his being. It contains the truth and teaching that despite our physical life, we are born spiritually dead in the sight of God. As spirits dead in trespasses and sins, we need to be regenerated, or born again, into spiritual life. The doctrine of the gospel eventually includes subjects like justification, God’s declaration of righteousness in those people He saves. At some point there is reconciliation – the act of God when He brings this justified sinner to Himself. The gospel contains the doctrines of election, regeneration, adoption, sanctification and more.

There are hundreds of books written about the story of Christ – the story of the gospel. But in addition to them, there are thousands of books, dealing with the doctrines of the gospel. Some people are moved by the story of Christ, led by the Holy Spirit, turning to the Lord for salvation. But others must be taught more of the details and doctrines of the gospel before they believe. And then when people are born again, they find that studying the doctrines of the gospel brings them joy and peace they might not otherwise possess.

In addition to the gospel’s story and doctrine, it is a COMMAND.

Go back with me to the fact that the gospel is to be preached. That is a strong word, isn’t it? Preached. To preach is to declare something emphatically and then to urge people to respond to the message. There is nothing wrong with putting parts of the gospel into poetical verse and singing it to people. I have been privileged to witness an excellent theatrical performance called a “Passion Play,” where actors portrayed the final few hours of Jesus’ life. As a pastor, I have several dozen of those books of gospel theology. As a child I attended church somewhat regularly, hearing the gospel story over and over again. But I was not actually struck with the message of the gospel until it was preached to me.

Before Paul’s brief definition of the gospel in I Cor. 15, in the first chapter he emphasized it’s preaching. “Christ sent me… to PREACH the gospel; not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the PREACHING of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” – I Corinthians 1:17-18. Why does the Bible put so much emphasis on preaching the gospel? Because this story – this message – is the only way for sinners to escape eternal judgment. This story is so important that it needs to be shared forcefully and with authority.

There is an implicit command in the gospel and especially in preaching the gospel. Since there is “none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,” then the gospel is essential to people’s souls. Part of the gospel story are the words of the Lord Jesus in John 14 – “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, BUT by me.” That being true, then those words need to be preached – forcefully declared – and even commanded. Peter talks about a commission that he and the other disciples received from the Saviour. “And (Christ) commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” What was Peter commanded to preach unto the people? It was the gospel. Why was he commanded to preach? Because that only through Jesus’ name believers should receive remission of sins.

Mark 1:14-15 gives us the example of the Lord Himself. “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.” He commanded repentance and faith.

The other night a house caught fire and neighbor saw the flames leaping from the attic. He ran out into the cold and across the street to that home, banging on the door, to wake up the residents. He had good news for them, but it began with very bad news. Their house was on fire, but there was salvation available if they immediately left their burning home. He shared that good news with a command in his voice – “Escape, escape right now!” “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

That points out that the gospel is a serious WARNING.

The doctor has discovered that you have a cancer which will kill you if left untreated. He has no authority over you, but he is concerned. “I am warning you. Death is approaching. “Do something! Let me do something! I can cure you and save your life. I have good news to go along with this bad news.”

In the first three chapters of his epistle to the Romans Paul laid out the terrible condition we are all in. In chapter 2, he describes the deadly sins which infect the self-righteous, religious Jews. In chapter 1, he talks about the non-Jewish, religious idolaters of his day. And then in chapter 3, he combines them and condemns us all. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” “There is not righteous, no, not one.” “There is none that understandeth, there is no none that seeketh after God.” What will happen to all those sinners? Paul says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The gospel message contains the warning that the wages of sin is death, but it also has the good news, the gift of God is eternal life through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. In chapter 2 Paul adds one other important point: “there is a day coming, when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my GOSPEL” – according to the gospel I preach. The gospel contains a warning; the gospel is a warning.

II Thessalonians 1:8 displays a vivid and horrible scene, and yet it is still in the context of the gospel. “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels. In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that OBEY not the GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ; Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” There is a warning and command in the gospel – OBEY. And those who “OBEY not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ… shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.”

And with that we come to the PROMISE of the gospel.

The Apostle Peter was sent by God from to travel from Joppa to Caesarea in order to share the gospel with a man who was in the Roman military. When he arrived he talked about what he had witnessed in Jesus life, re-telling the story of the gospel. He spoke about Jesus’ death on the cross and then, “Him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly.” Going on, he told Cornelius, God “commanded us to PREACH unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To (Christ) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him SHALL RECEIVE remission of sins.” Why was Peter commissioned to preach the gospel to this man? Because that is the only way to obtain forgiveness of sins. Implicit in the gospel is that essential blessing of salvation from sin. It is a promise contained in no other message.

Paul wrote in Romans, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” Why Paul? “For it is the power of God unto salvation.” The gospel is the promise of salvation from sin.

He wrote to the Christians in Ephesus, speaking of the gospel which promises salvation. In Christ Jesus “we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the GOSPEL of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” II Thessalonians speaks of people obtaining the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, who were called by the gospel – (II Thessalonians 2:14). And II Timothy speaks of “our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

If you would like to have the assurance of eternal life; if you would like to share in the inheritance of God and the glory of Christ, then you need the gospel. If you want salvation from sin then you need what is contained in the story of the gospel. But it must be more than simply believing the story of the Gospel; you need the Christ of Gospel.

And with that we come to one more thing: the gospel is essentially an APPEAL.

Every time the gospel is declared implicit in the message are the words of Lord Jesus, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Every gospel message contains Christ’s invitation “if any man thirst come unto me and drink.” If any man thirst for the deliverance from sin, for fellowship with God, for spiritual peace and joy, the Saviour says, come unto me. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” – Isaiah 55:1.

The story of the gospel carries with it what we all desperately need for our sin-dead spirits. We need the Lord. We need the forgiveness of sins in order that we might enjoy fellowship with God. You need the gospel. You need the Saviour whose story is told in the gospel. This morning I appeal to you through the gospel. Come, oh please come, to the Saviour in humble repentance and faith. “He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” The person who does not have eternal life, will spend eternity in the equally eternal hell – the judgment of God. Please, please turn from your sin and put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ this morning.