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Today, I would like to talk about the gospel. I am going to preach the gospel. Let me begin by asking a question. Do you know what the gospel is? More specifically, what does the gospel mean to you? We often use the word “gospel” or the phrase “preach the Gospel” in churches, but many of us may not deeply ponder upon what the Gospel is and its specific content.
Once again, what is the gospel? Do you know what its specific content is? What does it mean to you? It may seem like you know, or perhaps you’re not quite sure.
I came to Japan to proclaim the gospel with my family on March 28, 2011. Why did I come to Japan? I came to Japan to share the gospel. I came to share the gospel with the Japanese people. Because of this, I needed to understand what the gospel means and what its content is. So, I bought books related to the gospel, studied them, and searched for every instance of the word “gospel” in the Bible.
I needed to accurately know the message I wanted to convey. Can we call someone a messenger if they don’t know the message they are conveying?
If so, what is the gospel? We simply say the gospel is about “the message of Jesus Christ, the message of the kingdom of God, and the message of salvation.”
First, let’s take a look at what the word “gospel” means. The word “gospel” is derived from the Old English words “god” and “spell.” God means good. Spell means news. It is a compound word from god and spell. So, the word gospel means good news.
We hear news every day through television, newspapers, magazines, and YouTube. Most of the time, the news is not good. When we watch TV, read newspapers, or browse YouTube, we are bombarded by bad news and sad news. In our lives, we seldom hear good news or joyful news. Most news is bad news or sad news. It’s even breaking news. It’s news we don’t want to hear. Right? Last week, a rare, powerful earthquake occured in Morocco. It killed almost 3,000 people and injured 6,000 people. It’s breaking news. It’s terrifying news. It’s sad news.
Especially as leaders, we encounter more bad news than good news. When someone contacts us, nine out of ten, it’s bad news. They have problems and want them solved. That’s why leaders experience a lot of stress. Pastors in churches also experience a lot of stress.
In spite of the fact that we are living in a world filled with bad news, breaking news, terrifying news, and sad news, there is always one piece of good news. It’s the news that blesses us. It’s the news that benefits us. It’s the news that makes us happy. We call it “the gospel.”
So, what makes the gospel good news? What is good about the gospel? What benefits can we get from the gospel? What relevance does the gospel have to our personal lives? Do you know why the gospel is considered good news or beneficial news or joyful news for you and me? Do you know why?
Let us study the content of the gospel. The content of the gospel is the person and work of Jesus Christ. More specifically, the birth of Jesus, His daily life, His public life, His suffering, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and His second coming are all good news, beneficial news, and joyful news for you and me. Let’s study one by one what is good about the gospel.
First of all, the birth of Jesus is good news. Why is the birth of Jesus good news for you and me? Why does the birth of Jesus benefit you?
Jesus is the Son of God. Because Jesus is the Son of God, it means that Jesus is God Himself. Jesus as God, came to this earth as a human being. Jesus became flesh. Why did He come as a human being? Jesus came as a human being to rescue (save, deliver) us from sin, death, and hell. Only Jesus can save fallen humanity. One of the conditions of the Savior is… He must be a human being. In addition to that, He must be without sin.
Since Adam, the first human being, no one has been both human and sinless. All human beings are born sinners. We all have original sin. However, Jesus was born sinless through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Moreover, while living as a human being on this earth, Jesus did not commit sin. We call a sinless person a righteous one. Sinners cannot save sinners, but a righteous person can save sinners. This is why Jesus’ birth is good news for you and me. Jesus was born to save us from sin, death, and hell. Is it good news for you? Isn’t it?
Secondly, Jesus’ life is good news for us.The life of Jesus itself is good news for us. I was born in a poor family. So, escaping poverty was one of my life’s goals. I wanted to succeed financially. I was more concerned with how to make a lot of money than with the philosophical question like “How should I live as a human being?” I thought I needed to start a trading company. I thought about starting a trading company from the beginning because I realized that working for companies and earning money wouldn’t make me rich. I was very secular, unlike you. I know you are more spiritually focused. I had never found myself in a situation where someone told me, “If you were born as a human being, you should live a good life.” I had never even thought about who I wanted to follow as a role model. I was very secular and very worldly.
Most people learn by watching others. We learn by watching and imitating others’ behaviors. What I am saying is “observational learning.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anyone I wanted to follow among the people I saw and met. I didn’t have anyone I wanted to respect among the people I saw and met.
We usually have role models in life. Don’t we? But I didn’t have a role model whom I admired and looked up to. I didn’t have anyone I wanted to imitate. There was no one.
But by the grace of God, I met Jesus. Reading the Bible, I found Jesus who lived a perfect life as a human being. I found Jesus who lived the most dignified life as a human being. Finally, I found someone I wanted to follow. Finally, I found someone I wanted to imitate Jesus. Finally, I found someone I wanted to respect. In fact, Jesus is the only one whom I want to follow, imitate, and respect. My goal in life changed from wanting to make a lot of money without economic worries, to loving God and loving my neighbors. The goal of my life became loving God and loving my neighbors like myself.
Look at Jesus’ childhood. Look at Luke chapter 2 verse 52. It says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and all the people.” When Jesus was 12 years old, at the temple, he was wise enough to listen to the teachers of the law and ask them good questions. Even if Jesus was a young boy, he was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him. God loved Jesus. People loved him, too.
Look at Jesus’ public life. He taught publicly to the crowds and also privately to His disciples. He healed the sick. He fed the hungry. He suffered for our sins.
We have the best example of a perfect life to follow. That is the life of Jesus. That’s why the life of Jesus is good news to us. Is it good news for you? Isn’t it?
Thirdly, Jesus’ suffering is good news.Jesus’ suffering is beneficial news and ultimately joyful news for us. Some people may question, “Pastor Park, does that make any sense? It doesn’t make any sense to me.” Brothers and sisters, Jesus’ suffering is good news to you? Why is Jesus’ suffering joyful news for us?
We are happy when someone whom we hate or dislike suffers, don’t we? There’s no doubt that we rejoice when bad things happen to the people we hate or dislike. To us, that’s good news. On the other hand, we are unhappy when good things happen to the people I hate or dislike. I would get angry. Have you ever experienced that? I have…
But Jesus is not someone we hate or dislike, is He? Jesus came to save us, and yet He suffered. Is that joyful news for us? It is not joyful news for Jesus, either. Definitely not! Jesus is also a human being like us. I am pretty sure that He wouldn’t enjoy suffering.
How would you feel if your parents suffered and endured pain on your behalf? No one would say, “Anyway, I’m not in pain, so it’s good news.” No one.
And yet, it’s so true that the pain and suffering that Jesus had taken brought spiritual, mental, and physical benefits to us.
Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds, we are healed.”
What I am saying is that Jesus had to be pierced for us to be free from our sins. He had to endure great pain for our wrongdoings to be forgiven. He had to bear the punishment for us to finally experience peace. He had to be whipped for our wounds to be healed.
Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
This means that Jesus had to bear our iniquities for us to walk in righteousness and follow the path of God.
In essence, the pain and suffering of Jesus, and particularly Jesus’ agony on the cross are incredibly beneficial news for us. Ironically, for us, this is “good news.” This means that Jesus endured pain and suffering on the cross for us.
If Jesus had not suffered on the cross, we would still be living in sin and transgression. If Jesus had not suffered on the cross, we would still be living in anxiety, worry, and conflict. If Jesus had not suffered on the cross, we would still be suffering from various diseases. Most importantly, if Jesus had not suffered on the cross, we would be living entirely wrong lives, unaware of God’s path. So, how beneficial is Jesus’ suffering for us? How fundamentally good news is it for us?
Today, I will conclude my sermon here. In the next sermon, I will discuss why Jesus’ death, resurrection, ascension, and second coming are also good news for us. I hope that through today’s sermon, you have gained some understanding of what the gospel is, what its content is. I hope that you will understand the gospel and live a blessed life, and I pray that you will share the gospel with those who have not yet heard it. Let us pray.