[Willow Creek Association] 1998-03-25 - The Gospel

The What is the Gospel? Series - Part 1

1 Corinthians 15:1 (NIV) Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.

Ah, the Gospel. We throw that word around a lot. We say with enthusiasm, "My pastor is preaching the Gospel!" Or sometimes we say, "Man, what you need is the Gospel."

Just what is the Gospel? I can remember asking my mother that question when I was 11 or 12 years old. Her answer to me was "Son, the Gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ being our Savior." As always, mom was right. But just exactly what is the Gospel?

The Gospel is really quite simple. The Gospel was only about 25 years old when Paul wrote the Corinthians this letter. They apparently had complicated it in just twenty-five years. We have had nearly 2000 year to really complicate God's plan for us. Paul clearly lays it out for us in the next passage.

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 (NIV) For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.

In other words the Gospel is simply this:

  1. Jesus died for our sins. (He did not just die, he died for us, in place of us.)
  2. Jesus was buried.
  3. Jesus was raised on the third day.
  4. He appeared to many people.

That's it folks. Add anything to this, and you do not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ, take away anything and you have no Gospel. Some cults sound very Christian, but when you look deeper into them, they all deny at least one aspect of the Gospel and some even add to this list.

What do you and I do to this list? What is not the Gospel? The Gospel is not doing, doing and doing things to try to please God or earn His Grace. The Gospel is not attending a worship service every Sunday (although I highly recommend it, for other reasons). The Gospel is not about us doing something. The Gospel is not about being a religious person. Jesus Christ did it all for us. He alone is faithful for us. It is HIS faithfulness that makes us right with God, not ours.

Too often we spell religion or the Gospel, "d-o". You need to do this or do that. Often we feel like we need to be doing, doing, and then doing more. Folks, religion is not spelled d-o. It is spelled "D-O-N-E". It is what Jesus Christ has done for us. It is HIS faithfulness to go to the cross, in our place, that saves us from a Christ-less eternity.

Now I am not saying, look folks just accept Christ and don't do anything, quite to the contrary. My passion during this life here is "growing people up in Christ." Nothing energizes me more than to watch a person grow up in the faith and become a little more like Christ each week myself included. What I am saying is this, let's stop complicating the Gospel and simply start living day by day in appreciation and gratitude for what Christ has done for us. Let's start living moment by moment full of His Love and His Grace and His Mercy and show the fruit of the Spirit to those around us. Let's use this little piece of the earth that God placed us on for His Glory and Honor. Its pretty simple if you think about it.

Father, help us to recognize when we start adding to the Gospel or taking away from it. Help us to just be simple Christ followers so that all that we do, all that we think, and all that we say reflects our gratitude and love for what our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has done for us. Help us to spell religion done and not do. Help us to recognize the difference. Lord we praise you and thank you for your abundance of mercy and grace. Forgive us when we fall short of your mark. Help us to continue to grow a little more like Christ everyday. While we will never become sinless here on this earth, help us to resist the temptations that come our way so that we may sin less. In Christ's name, Amen.