What is the Gospel?

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

The Death of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3)

The death of Jesus Christ by crucifixion is one of the best-attested facts in history that is almost impossible to doubt or deny. Moreover, it is attested and recorded by several independent, non-Christian sources and historians such as Josephus (Jewish historian), Tacitus (Roman historian), Thallus (Samaritan-born historian), etc.

Why did Christ have to die? Ever since the first Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, humanity has been under the condemnation of sin. The punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23) and spending eternity in a place of torment away from God. Everyone is guilty of sin and deserves punishment in hell (Matthew 25:46).

God loved the world so much that He made way for man to be forgiven of their sins and receive eternal life in heaven (John 3:16). God sent His Son Jesus Christ to take on the penalty upon Himself through death on the cross to satisfy God’s justice and guarantee the salvation of everyone who believes (John 3:15).

The Burial of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:4a)

Jesus’ burial is an integral part of the gospel because it was an assurance of the reality of His death and resurrection. The fact that He was buried verified His death. How do we know that Jesus died? We know it because He was buried. Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy member of the Jewish Sanhedrin who is a secret follower of Jesus Christ, buried him in his tomb (Mark 15:43-46; Luke 23:50-53 & John 19:38-42).

The testimony of the actual death of Jesus is so important because if there were any doubt Jesus died, there would be a doubt as to whether the Father actually had meted out His wrath on Christ. Death is the penalty pronounced on sinners (Romans 6:23), and death is required for atonement (Hebrews 9:22). If Jesus had not died, we would have no assurance that God’s justice was satisfied and no foundation for believing that our broken relationship with the Father was restored.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:4b)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most significant event in human life which led to our great salvation. It gives credence, reality, and authenticity to the Christian faith. The resurrection is the core foundation by which Christianity stands or falls. The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:17-18 that if Christ has not been raised from the dead, our faith is futile, and we are still in our sins. Moreover, those who have died believing in Christ have perished.

The resurrection is victory over sin; it has destroyed sin and the grave and set humanity free from the bondage of sin and disease. This means that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead sets the believer free to live a new life that destroys sin in his life and has gained victory over sin (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

The Appearances of the Risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)

The appearances of the risen Christ to His disciples and a group of people are as important as His death, burial, and resurrection because it verified His resurrection and, more importantly, it has become the driving force for His disciples and followers to start proclaiming His resurrection. Without the postmortem appearances of Jesus Christ, the disciples would not have believed that He was alive.

You see, the disciples felt devastated and defeated after the crucifixion. However, after their encounter with the resurrected Christ, they were transformed from being frightened, discouraged, and despondent to being bold, courageous, and outspoken.

Closing Words

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the message of the good news of salvation offered to humanity by grace through faith in the finished works of Christ on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is a message of eternal life and God’s entire plan to redeem humanity from the ravages of sin and death, from Satan and the curse that is upon all the earth.

The New Commandment / What Does Love Look Like?

In his classic book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” He’s not talking about faking it until you make it; he’s identifying a proven principle: Our behaviors shape us into the people we are becoming. If we want to be loving people, then we must love. So, then we need to ask the question, “What does love look like?”

Jesus answered this question on the night He was arrested. As He and His disciples were sharing the Passover meal, Jesus suddenly stood up and did a strange and beautiful thing: He laid aside his outer clothing and began washing his disciples’ feet. Foot washing was the work of a servant. Jesus had told his disciples before that he had come to earth to be a servant (Mark 10:45), but perhaps they did not fully understand until this moment. Foot washing is also an intimate and vulnerable act in which one person is exposed to another’s dirt and smell and soreness. Jesus’ action was so shocking to his disciples that Peter tried to tell him not to do it. But Jesus explained that it was not only a necessary act but also an example to the disciples. They were to wash one another’s feet—to become servants, just like Jesus.

Not long after this, while they were still at supper, Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment: “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). I don’t think it’s an accident that this is one of the first things Jesus said after washing the disciples’ feet. I think he was telling them that this is what love looks like: humbling ourselves, doing thankless work, not shying away from the filth and pain of humanity.

Some churches during this season will commemorate Jesus’ words by literally washing one another’s feet. However, all of us can lay aside our rights as Jesus laid aside his garment and serve the people God has placed in our lives. Do you want to be a loving person? So do I. We can begin by acting as servants. May God give us the grace we need to do so.

Dr. William A. Horton

Online Church

Online church was a foreign concept just a few years ago. If you spoke to a church about having an online campus 10 years ago, people would have thought you were nuts. The single most significant complaint about having an online church campus was that being the body of Christ means being together and having a community is critical in being the church. Namely, people would quote Hebrews 10:25 (KJV), “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” This argument is a legitimate reason why having an online-only campus is dangerous. Jason Thacker, chair of research in technology ethics at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Counsel of the Southern Baptist Convention states, “Digital services are dangerous when they become the primary means of the church, because we are an embodied people. Church isn’t a service, a sermon, or even worship gathering, but the people of God.”

When speaking to churches in early 2013 about creating an online campus, my conversations would often consist of proving that having an online campus was the way of the future. Back then a typical conversation might sound like this, “The fact is that only 1 in 7 lead pastors is under the age of 40, over half of pastors now are over the age of 55, the median age of a lead pastor is 54. Millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996) have overtaken the baby boomers in the workforce, and it is estimated by Pew Research that by 2025 fifty percent of the workforce will be millennials.” Then I would have to explain the importance of everything I just told them. The communities that the church is trying to reach are getting younger, and the pastors are getting older. There is a significant generational gap, and many pastors do not understand how to reach a younger group. What worked in the past to reach the next generation is not going to work in the future. My argument would never be that having an online service was meant to replace in-person service. However, many churches completely ignored my suggestions and when the pandemic hit in 2020, they were unprepared to transition to online-only platforms.

To further illustrate my argument, according to Cross Politics (2017), 59% of millennials raised in the church have left, and according to Barna (2015), millennials are the least likely age group to attend church. So, clearly, what worked before is no longer going to work if a pastor wants to reach a younger generation. As a church, we are called according to Matthew 28:19 (NIV) to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” When most of our current pastors started in ministry pre-2005 social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter did not exist (Carlson, 2010). Fast forward to today, and these platforms are one of the most dominating forces in our culture. The bottom line is that online platforms such as social media is where people’s attention is. To drive that point home a little further, in January of 2022, Christianity Today reported that The Potter’s House in Denver, a church that averaged 10,000 worshipers, would be moving to an online-only service. As a result, Potters House in Denver will be selling their 32-acre property and 137,000 square foot building. The Potters House Denver attracts a younger crowd and believes they can be more successful with an online-only congregation.

According to Pew Research (2021), 72% of Americans are on some form of social media platform. As more and more Americans have adopted social media, and the social media user base has grown to be more representative of the broader population, the question is, why would the church not have an online campus? With the Covid pandemic, many churches have come around to understand the importance of being online. There is not a single person I have talked to within the church sphere that has not understood the value of having an online campus since the pandemic started. However, most are quick to point out that having an online campus should not replace meeting in person. As a minister, I see the value in having an online option, but I do not believe the online-only platform will be a trend. Churches that prioritize loving people and relationships will not trade their relational capital for an online-only church. Having church online should not replace in-person service, but it is an option that I personally believe every church should offer.

Dr. William A. Horton

Merry CHRISTMAS

GOD LOVES YOU!

Why was Jesus born? Because ‘God so loved the world’. The story of Jesus’ birth is not just a warm fuzzy story about a sweet baby born to nice people who were having a hard time. It isn’t just an exciting story about wise men and shepherds and a manger. 

The story of Christmas is the most important message you could ever receive from God. Christmas is God’s message to your heart saying, ‘I love you’. He loves you enough that He paid the greatest cost that God could have possibly paid. The Creator became a creature. God became a man. The Perfect entered the fallen. God among the ungodly. Mercy in the midst of judgement. As you approach Christmas Day, listen to God’s voice in your heart reminding you, ‘I love you’. 

God’s Mercy

Jesus has made God’s mercy available to all
The words ‘forgiveness’ and ‘forgiven’ are words that appear over and over again in the Bible. ‘Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness’ (Hebrews 9:22). Through Jesus’ blood, forgiveness of sins is possible (Ephesians 1:7). As a result, God’s mercy is available for you and me.