What is the Gospel? As a child I was told that Christ had died for my sins and if I confess my sins, believing that God had raised Him from the dead, I could be forgiven of my sins and be granted eternal life. Over the years I’ve heard other people put forth other ideas of what the Good News is, but what Paul wrote many years ago truly resonates within me, today:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’” (Romans 1:16-17)
The gospel is about what’s available to me as a non-Jew, and to my brother who might be a Jew, when we trust God. My righteousness is not determined exclusively by what good things I do. It’s determined by whether or not I trust God:
“Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’” (Galatians 3:6-7)
Therefore, we are instructed by Scripture that only those who are of faith are the sons of Abraham. Meaning that, no one is considered to be the seed of Abraham based solely on whether they keep this command or that statute. We can only be a son of Abraham if we are of faith – if we trust Him and believe Him. That’s how it was accounted unto Abraham as righteousness, and it only makes sense that the same will be true for us.
Now to be clear, that doesn’t mean that we are exempt from obedience to God’s Word. Abraham believed what God said and then did what God told him to do. However, it was his faith that pleased the Creator. In other words, our obedience is not how we are saved; it’s a manifestation of the fact that we are saved. We don’t keep God’s instructions in order to attain righteousness. We observe and do them because we have been redeemed by the blood of the Messiah.
Therefore, the Gospel is: If I trust that God raised Christ from the dead and acknowledge my guilt and my need for a Savior, my guilt is erased and I can stand before God as righteous. Subsequent to that, we are empowered by His Spirit to live in obedience to God and to His Word. According to the Messiah, if we are to be “sons of Abraham,” we have to do the works of Abraham (John 8:39). That means we must believe, we must trust and, yes, we must do.