From the very beginning, many have intentionally or unintentionally obscured this simple message, and many more have died to bring it to you. Jesus himself calls it the "good news," or as it we used to say in an earlier English, the "gospel."
An angel who heralded the birth of Jesus announced it this way:
"I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior,
Who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2.10-11)
This is that message. It's a message about sin and forgiveness, about God and His Redeemer, about you and your eternal life. It's an introduction to a King so noble, and a Kingdom so glorious, and a cause so worthy, that all who grasp this message joyfully enlist all that they are and all that they have because of it. And they receive back much more.
Before you begin, here are a few words about the format: in the black italic text, you will find the "gospel" word-for-word as recorded in the Letter to the Romans, a letter written specifically to unfold this very message. All the italic text is taken directly from the first five chapters in the New International Version. On the right side, you will find several cited quotations from Jesus in red, which help explain and amplify what is being discussed. And finally, you will also see a numbered outline in dark black added to help give some structure to the text and bring out each point clearly.
This is the real story from the only real source. And, to say the least, it is well worth your reading. May God bless you as you hear Him.
He bore my shame; I bear his honor.
He endured my sufferings that my joy may be full.
He laid in the grave that I might rise from the dead.
- C. H. Spurgeon
Question: What is the "gospel?"
Answer: It's literally the "good news" about salvation through God's own righteousness which he gives to us because of faith. Read on...
The Overview of the "Gospel"
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."
This is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life. (John 6.39-40)
Salvation from God's Just Judgment on Sin
1. Why? First, because God has clearly revealed Himself to everyone to be their powerful, generous, wise creator and sustainer.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-His eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10.29-30)
Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you [just as God] causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5.44-45)
2. Though everyone knows God, they will not glorify Him nor be thankful to Him.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
They have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. (John 15.22-24)
3. Since people desire God out of their minds, He gives them over to godless lives.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator. ... Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity...they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (John 3.18-19)
4. You have no excuse passing judgment on others, because you do the very same things, and you only show that God's judgment upon you will be just.
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?
In the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matt. 7.1-5)
He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24.51)
5. And while God is patient, you show contempt for His patience in your unrepentant heart, storing up judgment for yourself in the day of God's wrath.
Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done." ... They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.
Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins. (John 8.24)
6. But God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, according to the gospel.
This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.... There is no fear of God before their eyes. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. (John 5.22)
The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth-those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5.28-30)
Salvation by God's Free Grace through Faith
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
1. All have sinned, but God presented Jesus as an atonement for sin.
There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.
I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. (John 10.14-15)
2. God thus demonstrates His justice by not allowing our sins to go unpunished.
He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-he did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus....
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20.28)
3. Those who have their sins thus forgiven through faith in God are truly blessed.
To the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: "Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him." ... God will credit [Jesus'] righteousness for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. (John 5.24)
I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. (John 11.25)
4. Therefore, we glorify God and are thankful because of His salvation.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through Him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. (John 10.27-28)