What is the Gospel?

The Announcement of Jesus Christ’s Victory over Demons, Sin, and Death

G ospel (in Greek, evangelion) is an ancient concept. It was the proclamation of three things by a herald sent into a city ahead of his master: 1) Who his lord and master is. 2) What he has accomplished (typically victory over enemies). 3) What that lord expects from the city when he arrives. The word gospel is now used by Christians to refer to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus.

Who is Jesus Christ?

Jesus is the eternal Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Being God, he is not created, existing before all things. He is the Creator and Most High God, one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is the Word of God, the one who reveals the Father. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son of God was conceived and became human in the womb of the Virgin Mary without help from any earthly father — this is called the Incarnation. He is therefore one Person who is fully God and fully human. He is not half-God and half-human, nor is he human only in appearance, nor is he a human being Who was adopted by God to become divine. He existed before the Incarnation as fully God by nature, and took on human nature when he became incarnate. He is called Messiah or Christ, the Anointed One of God sent to accomplish the divine mission.

What did Jesus Christ accomplish?

Seeing that humanity was oppressed by the demons, the enemies of God, in his love Christ came to earth, defeated those rebellious fallen angels by exorcism and ultimately by suffering death on a cross. By dying, he invaded the underworld and destroyed the demonic power of death, rising again fully alive on the third day. On the 40th day from his resurrection, he ascended bodily into heaven, having promised his disciples that he would remain with them always. Jesus’ great act of love rescued the human race from domination by the demons, from slavery to sin, and from the power of death. He did not leave humanity subject to these forces or condemn us because of them but released us from them and brought mercy, forgiveness, and hope. Sin is a demonic force, a rupture between us and God, an alienation from the creation and each other — it is to forsake harmonious communion. In his life, death, and resurrection, Christ healed people of their sins, cleansed the whole world from sin, and opened the way to eternal life with God and peace with each other and all the world. At a time known only to God, Jesus will be gloriously revealed to the world as King (sometimes called the Second Coming), raising all mankind from the dead and rendering justice to both the living and the dead. This is referred to in the Bible as the Day of the Lord.

What does Jesus Christ expect of us?

When the Day of the Lord comes, those he finds faithful to his commandments will be exalted in glory to join him forever and rule with him over creation, while the unfaithful will be cast out from his Kingdom, which will have no end. To be “saved” is to be part of that Kingdom. It is on the basis of faithfulness to his commandments that he will render justice. God’s justice is to set things right, to put things in order. Faithfulness means to love and worship Christ, to keep his commandments, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to honor our family and church and civil rulers. He expects that we will not engage in idolatry (worship of anything but God), immorality (including sexual immorality), dishonesty, violence against the innocent, greed, envy, exploitation of the poor and weak, or theft — anything which puts ourselves first and him and others after. He expects that we turn away from every kind of sin, serving together with the angels, who share his rule and remained obedient to him when the demons rebelled.

How does someone respond to the gospel?

If someone believes the gospel of Jesus Christ, he or she repents. To repent is to turn toward God, again and again, both away from sin and also toward growth in obedience and love. As both Jesus and his forerunner John the Baptist said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Repenting, the believer humbly approaches the Church — which is Christ’s Body, his active presence in the world — to be baptized, beginning the process by contacting the local parish pastor and doing as he instructs. Baptism mystically unites the believer to Christ and makes him or her a Christian, part of his Body the Church. Before baptism, the believer is trained by the clergy and other teachers to be a faithful Christian. After baptism, the new Christian remains faithful through worship, through receiving the Holy Eucharist (and other sacraments as appropriate), through daily prayer, through guided asceticism (such as fasting), through almsgiving and other acts of charity, and through all kinds of self-denial and active love — increasing in love, in humility, discernment, and maturity. Repentance does not end with baptism. When a Christian fails to be faithful to God in this life, God continues to give the opportunity to repent, to live the angelic life. The return to faithfulness is always possible in this life, and God always extends forgiveness and healing to those who return to Him. The word gospel literally means “good news,” and so it clearly is. In this process, men and women, rich and poor, young and old — people of every culture and background, without exception — have equal access to becoming like the angels, participating forever in God’s life and glory by His grace, mercy, and love.