What really is the Gospel? The Gospel is the good message about Christ. The earliest Christian message is the Gospel as Paul of Tarsus wrote to the church in the Greek city of Corinth. Paul reminded these Christians that the Gospel that rescued and saved them is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1–4). Christians obey the Gospel by dying to sins, burial in baptism, and rising to the newness of life (Rom 6:4).
The Gospel focuses on the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus asked his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 16:15–17 ESV). This confession of faith is the rock and foundation of the church of Christ. Jesus revealed, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church,” (Matt 16:18a). The church is God’s people (1 Pet 2:9).
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16). The Scriptures reveal, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). Christians receive eternal life from Christ through bodily resurrection on the last day (John 6:39–40). Christ transforms the bodies of his followers into glorious bodies like his (Phil 3:21). Paul affirmed, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom 6:5; cf. 8:11). Believers are united with Christ as Paul noted, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death,” (Rom 6:4a). This is the hope that saves Christians waiting “the redemption of the body” (Rom 8:23). “For in this hope we were saved” (Rom 8:24).
The pattern of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is throughout the Christian Scriptures and a model of salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:4–9). The apostle demonstrated, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses,” (Col 2:12–13). God forgives the believer’s sins giving newness of life through baptism.
Historians agree that the Gospel started the church of Christ — God’s people. Peter proclaimed Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection (Acts 2:14–36). Peter observed that Scripture predicted the rising of the Christ from the dead. Peter presented how Israel’s King David made this prediction too, yet they knew the place of David’s body in his tomb. Peter professed, “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:32). When these Jews heard these things, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The Lord added these repentant-baptized believers to the church (Acts 2:41, 47). Churches of Christ proclaim this same message today.