Many Christians, when asked “What is the gospel?” will offer some iteration of “Jesus died for my sins.” While that statement is true, it falls short of capturing the depths and entirety of the gospel message. In other words, the gospel is not less than that, but it is definitely more.
In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, the Apostle Paul writes, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you…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…”
Paul clearly states that the gospel (literally meaning “good news”) consists of three core events: Jesus’ death for our sins, his burial, and his resurrection. Interestingly, Paul initially only explains the purpose of one of those events – that Jesus died for our sins. If the gospel is more than the fact that Jesus died for our sins, the question then becomes: what did Jesus’ burial and resurrection accomplish for us? Wouldn’t dying for our sins have been enough?
Thankfully, Paul provides quite a bit of clarity further on in this passage from 1 Corinthians 15. While there are a number of things that Jesus’ burial and resurrection accomplished for us, I intend to highlight what I believe to be two of the most important for the Christian.
First, it is through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection that we receive new life. If all Jesus accomplished for us on the cross was forgiveness for sin and nothing more, then we would still be hopelessly stuck in slavery to our sin. Jesus would have taken the punishment we deserve, but our hearts and lives would have remained the same. That doesn’t seem like very good news.
Thankfully, through Christ’s “new life” (his resurrection) we also receive new life. We are no longer bound to and slaves to our sin. We are set free and given a new heart with new desires. That is why Paul gives this beautiful exhortation in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Finally, Jesus’ resurrection provides us with a secure future hope. In both Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, Paul emphasizes that just as sin and death entered the world through one man’s failure (Adam), in the same way life is brought through one man’s righteousness (Jesus). Adam’s sin brought death; Jesus’ righteousness brings resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:21). Jesus went before us, and the promise for Christians is that just as death was not the end for Jesus, neither is it the end for us.
The day is coming – it could be tomorrow; it could be millennia from now – but the day is coming when God will make all things new. We already know the end of the story; Jesus has already won. And on that day when history is complete, sin will be no more. No more pain, no more suffering, no more tears, no more hatred, no more terrorist attacks, no more fleeing refugees, no more corrupt governments, no more celebration of wickedness. All of it will be gone, and in its place will be a perfect world, unstained by sin, where everyone who trusted in Christ will enjoy perfect communion with God the Father.
That’s what Jesus’ resurrection accomplished for us, and that is most definitely good news.
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