My seminary professor told me a story about a mother whose son was in the military and was pronounced lost in action and judged to be dead. The war department sent the letter that every mother dreads: “Your son is dead.”
Then they found out that the son was not dead at all. He was alive and well! They told someone, “Go tell that woman her son is alive.” How would you like to be the one who had the opportunity to go to a mother who thought that her son was dead, and to knock on her door and say: “I’ve got good news”?
How excited we ought to be about proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ! It’s better than the news that the war department had to give to that mother. It’s the news that Jesus Christ has conquered death, hell, the grave and judgment, and that we can live forever with Him.
The word Gospel means good news. The thing that makes good news good news is the possibility of bad news. And the bad news is our sin. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
But in 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul gives the good news: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
That is the source of the Gospel: the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. How does this deal with our sin problem? It pays the penalty for our sins. You see, a holy, righteous God cannot merely overlook sin. If He were to do that, He would no longer be holy. But Christ’s death made full payment for our sins. His burial shows that the pollution and defilement of our sin is buried in the grave of God’s forgetfulness. And in His resurrection He has demolished the power of sin and is declared to be the Son of God with power.
Let’s look now at the force of the Gospel–what the Gospel does. First, we see its saving force. In 1 Corinthians 15:2, Paul speaks of the Gospel “by which also ye are saved.” God has no other way for you to be saved apart from the Gospel.
In Philippians 1:6, we see its sanctifying force: “He who has begun a good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ.” After you are saved, He continues to work in you. Day by day He is making you more like the Lord Jesus Christ.
And in 1 Corinthians 15:1, we see the stabilizing force of the Gospel: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which ye also have received, and wherein you stand.”
I love that. It is good news that we can be saved. It is better news that we can be saved and know it. It is glorious news that we can know that once we’re saved, we can never lose it: Wherein ye stand.
You see, when you get saved, you don’t keep Him; He keeps you.
Finally, let’s look at what this Gospel does in our world–the course of the Gospel.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ extends to every person. I can tell anyone, anywhere on the face of the earth, “No matter what you have done, if you’ll trust Jesus, He’ll save you.” The Bible says, “For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
A murderer? Yes. A rapist? Yes. An adulterer? Yes. A thief? Yes. A blasphemer? Yes! Look at what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:10: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace bestowed upon me was not in vain.”
Paul, who was a persecutor of Christians before he was converted on the road to Damascus, called himself the chiefest of sinners. But God’s grace reached even him.
The Gospel extends to every place. Wherever you are at this moment, God will save you. If you can show me any time, anywhere that someone called on Jesus Christ to save them in repentance and faith, and He didn’t save them, then I’ll close my Bible and never preach again.
The Gospel extends to every problem. You say, “Pastor, you don’t know my problems.” Well, I can reduce them all very simply. Every problem you have is a sub-category of three things: sin, sorrow and death.
The Gospel is the only answer to sin. It is the only answer to sorrow. And it is the only answer to death. There is no other way, apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to deal with sin, sorrow and death.
And of course, our greatest problem is death. We’re going to die. But the Gospel is that Christ was raised from the dead and has conquered the grave.
Do you have a loved one in Heaven? If he or she is there, they are there because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that has conquered sin, hell, death and the grave! And every problem that you’ll ever have is answered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s the reason the Apostle Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”
Adrian Rogers, 1931-2005, served for many years as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn.