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You will often hear Christians using the word "gospel". But what does it mean?
Good NewsThe word "gospel" is a very old English word, basically meaning "good news". It is a translation of a Greek word from two thousand years ago that appears in the Bible quite frequently. It was not a religious word, but one that was used in everyday life. The Greek word, which means "good news", has come into the English language too. It is the word "evangel", from which the word "evangelical" comes. Our church uses this word in its name: Grove Road Evangelical Church. We believe the gospel, the good news that the Bible talks about, is something wonderful.
Bad NewsBut what is this gospel, this good news? It is something that comes to us in the context of bad news. Whether we look at the universe as a whole or the Earth we live on in particular, whether we look at people in general or ourselves as individual in particular, we discover a picture where everything goes wrong in the end. The Earth is torn apart by earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, droughts, fires - and many other destructive forces. People get sick, they die, they do wrong things which end up hurting others or themselves. This doing of wrong things is named "sin" in the Bible. We all know we do wrong; often we wish we didn't do it - yet we can't stop ourselves doing it any more than we can stop earthquakes from tearing the Earth apart.
Guilty!And if all that didn't paint a bad enough picture of what it means to be a human being in a dangerous universe, we all instinctively know that there is a higher being who defines what is right and wrong, and who we offend every time we do these wrong things. We all know about God being our judge, though we might not all be clear about what that means in practice. We feel it moment by moment by our conscience's shouting loud inside us: you've done wrong again, and you are going to be in big trouble.
Does it Matter?What in the middle of all that could possibly come to us as Good News, as the Gospel? The Bible doesn't say to us "Don't worry, it doesn't matter. God loves everyone and will let you off in the end." No! It says the exact opposite: Worry big time, you won't be let off, and despite the fact that God loves you, unless something in you changes radically you will continue to be in big trouble, not just today, nor just for the rest of your life, but for ever, for eternity.
The AnswerIt is into those realities that the Good News, the Gospel, comes. Yes, you are in big trouble, but there is a way out, a solution, an answer. There is nothing you can do yourself to fix the problem, whether in yourself, or other people, or in the Earth's physical form, or in the whole universe. But the is one person who can do that. He can fix you, he can fix everyone, he can even fix the problems of the whole universe. And that person is Jesus.
God's Answer: JesusIn the Bible you will find this statement: "For God so loved the world (that is, the people of the world), that he gave his only Son (that is, Jesus), that whoever believes in him should not perish (that is, escape from the justly deserved consequences of our sins that a holy, just God must declare to be our punishment) but have eternal life (that is, to be forgiven for all the mistakes we have made, or will do; to have who we our transformed, gradually turning bad to good; to have death defeated by life, so that we will live for ever in the love and presence of God."