What Is The Gospel?
The vision of UCC is centered on the Gospel – but what is that? Here is a summary of what the Gospel is according to the Word of God:
“The Gospel is the story of the Triune God re-uniting fallen humanity and creation through the election of the Father, the life, death and resurrection of Christ, culminating in his imminent return, and the power of the Spirit – to the glory of God.”
We want this message to direct everything we do at our church: our community, ministry and activity. Therefore, it is essential that members have a clear understanding of the various elements of the story of the Gospel.
1. The Creator
The story of the Gospel begins with the one and only true God, eternally existent and self-sufficient in a community of three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Gen. 1:26, Gen. 11:7; Deut. 6:4; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:1-2, 14, 18; Heb. 1:8-9; Rev. 22:3). Within the Godhead is submission and love and worship and friendship, such that God lacks nothing within Himself.
The story then proceeds with four movements: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration.
2. The Story
Creation: As an expression of divine love and glory, God chose to create the universe and all living things therein. He made everything out of nothing by the power of His word – all of which was good (Gen. 1:1-31).
At the pinnacle of His creation, He fashioned humanity in His own image, male and female, and gave them dominion over all else that He had made (Genesis 1:26-30). He placed the first man and woman in a garden, naked and unashamed, and charged them to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth (Genesis 1:28; Genesis 2:25).
Fall of Man: Despite possessing every needed provision for lives of joy and peace with God and creation, the first man and woman disobeyed God’s command that they not eat from a tree in the centre of their garden paradise. A fallen angel, masquerading as a serpent, tempted the woman with the false promise that she might become like God. The woman, in turn, tempted the first man, and both ate the forbidden fruit (Gen. 3:1-6).
God consequently cursed the land, introducing pain and hardship into creation for the first time. The man and woman felt shame over their nakedness and experienced spiritual separation from God (Gen. 3:7-24). All human offspring have since experienced that same separation and are born with a depraved nature prone to reject God and embrace sin (Rom. 3:10-18).
Redemption: From the moment of man’s initial sin and the plunge of all creation into curse, God promised redemption through the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20). He reiterated that promise to Abraham, telling him that blessing to all nations would come through his offspring, namely Jesus (Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:16).
God foreshadowed the coming redemption in His covenant with the nation of Israel, instituting a sacrificial system for sin through which the people might come to reconciliation with God (Lev. 16). The prophets of Israel then foretold of a new and better covenant in accordance with the promises made to Abraham which would be established by a messianic figure who would atone for all sin (Jer. 31:31-34; Isaiah 53:1-12).
Jesus proved to be that Christ, fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies. He was God made flesh (John 1:1-3, 14), the second person of the Trinity, entering human history as a man to live without sin as a perfect example (Heb. 4:15), to die for sin as the propitiation from God’s righteous wrath (Heb. 2:17), and to resurrect over sin, death, and Satan in victory (Col. 2:13-15). Jesus then returned to His place of glory in heaven, where to this day He intercedes before the Father on behalf of all those who trust in His sacrifice (Heb. 7:25).
God adopts these people of faith as His children and unites them as His church. He regenerates their dead hearts to new life and gives them the Holy Spirit to supernaturally empower them to continue Christ’s work of restoring shalom and incarnating the divine (Acts 1:8; Eph. 1:13; Titus 3:5; 1 John 4:12).
Restoration:These believers are invited to join and partake in God’s kingdom, even as they await the kingdom’s full consummation on the earth. Jesus has promised to return one day, not again as a humble peasant, but in glory to judge all nations.
He will bring final justice and usher in a resurrection of all peoples, some to eternal torment, others to eternal peace (Rev. 11:18). He will establish new heavens and a new earth in which the redeemed people of God will live in perfect, sinless harmony and worship forever (2 Pet. 3:13).
Questions to ponder or discuss:
- Tim Keller has said, “Either the Bible is ultimately about you, or ultimately about Jesus.” In light of the Gospel exposition above, discuss what this means.
- Define “salvation” in your own words. Why do we hold to the exclusivity of Christ (i.e., that Jesus is the only way of salvation)?
- Explain the Gospel in one minute.
- What evidence of the Holy Spirit’s work can you see in your life since you became a Christian?
- In what ways can the past, present and future aspects of your salvation encourage you in your daily living?
- For whose salvation are you currently praying? In what ways are you enabling others to hear about God’s salvation?