The best way to summarize the gospel is to tell the story in several movements. You’ll get the same message in longest form if you read the bible from cover to cover—but that’s the very long version. I’ll give you my summary below (a drama in six acts), but let me give you a “Twitter summary” and a three sentence summary.
Twitter length summary
Christ died to save us from our sins and will transform the world for God’s glory—ending evil and establishing His glorious reign over all! (139 characters)
Three sentence summary
The gospel is the message of hope to mankind that even though we have sinned against God and made ourselves his enemies, God has taken initiative and provided the cure for our plight. This cure centers around the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ who lived a sinless life, died on the cross for our sins, and was raised again to life. By the work of the Holy Spirit, God makes a person understand, believe and respond to this wonderful message and causes them to live a new life that results in personal transformation and ultimately the transformation of the whole world.
The Bible teaches that mankind was created by a loving God. He made the world and all we know. The first two humans were Adam and Eve. They were created by God’s direct intervention and were placed in a garden called Eden. Everything was perfect and the world was theirs to enjoy and influence.
Romans 5:12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.
However, our first parents (Adam and Eve) disobeyed God and ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The consequence was death to them and all their descendents (that’s us). Our nature, from birth, is to continue in their rebellion by our attitudes and actions.
Colossians 1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
Even though God’s consequences are felt by all of humanity, we have not been left to ourselves. God has promised that he would send the Messiah, Jesus—His son, who would reverse the plight of humanity.
Colossians 1:22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—
God sent his Son, Jesus, to live the life we could not live and to die the death we should have died. Jesus was the most amazing human ever—he was more than human. As God’s Son, he existed before time and became a man to identify with us. Ever since he was brought to earth, he has two natures—divine and human. He did that so that as a human he could be our substitute, but as God his payment would be acceptable to a holy God for all he saves.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.
Faith in Christ
The gospel therefore tells us that if we will own up to our sins, and place our trust (faith) in Christ, God receives the finished work of Christ as acceptable for what we failed to do. What we do is we transfer our trust from ourselves (and our ability to live well, fix the mess, etc) and instead believe that Christ has paid in full the debt we could not. God actually enable us to accept and believe this message by a working of his Holy Spirit within us.
Here’s a summary from Galatians 4 (putting verse 8 at the front end)
Galatians 4:4-8 (8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.) 4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
New Life in Christ
Those who repent of their sins and put their faith in Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit are born afresh by that same Spirit who lives in them and helps them to live out the full life God wants. We call this “born again,” or “conversion,” “regeneration,” or simply—becoming a Christian. At this new birth God gives the believer several important gifts:
- total forgiveness of sins (justification)
- membership in God’s family (adoption)
- the ongoing power of the Holy Spirit (leading to sanctification)
- spiritual gifts (talents to use for his kingdom)
Someone who has accepted the gospel is now restored to a right relationship with God and lives that out the rest of their life, and will inherit the blessing of life for all eternity with God. In the mean time we will be his agents on earth to help others know him and do good things that restore God’s peace to the world.
2 Corinthians 5:17-21 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Grace and peace,