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“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures . . .”   1 Corinthians 15:1–4


What is the Gospel? The word gospel simply means “good news.” The central message of the Bible is the gospel, or good news, about the person and work of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, Paul provides the most succinct summary of the gospel: the man Jesus is also God, or Christ, and died on a cross in the place of His people, paying the penalty for their sins; three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him alone for eternal life.


The great reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways. The first is religion/spirituality and the second is the gospel. The two are antithetical in every way.


  • Religion says that if we obey God He will love us. The gospel says that it is because God has loved us through Jesus that we can obey.

  • Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people. The gospel says that the world is filled with bad people who are either repentant or unrepentant.

  • Religion says that you should trust in what you do. The gospel says that you should trust in what Jesus has done.

  • Religion says keep the rules and be good. The Gospel tells us that Jesus alone is the only good person who will ever live.

  • The goal of religion is to get from God such things as health, wealth, insight, power, and control- all paid for by my good works. The goal of the gospel is not the gifts God gives, but rather God as the gift given to us as a free gift- all fully paid for by the Blood of Jesus on the cross.

  • Religion is about what the life that I live in order to earn Heaven. The Gospel is about the life Jesus lived, on behalf of believers, which did earn heaven for them.

  • Religion is me doing my best in preparation for death. The Gospel is about the death Jesus died on the cross to fully prepare all, who would believe in Him, for everlasting Life.

  • Religion is about me. The gospel is about Jesus.

  • Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God. The gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.

  • Religion ends in either pride (because I think I am better than other people) or despair (because I continually fall short of God’s commands). The gospel ends in humble and confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me.


What do you want Religion or the Gospel?


(Mars Hill Church, with amendments)

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