All men are under sin (Romans 3:9-19) and need to be rescued. All the world is “guilty before God” (Romans 3:19). We are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), following after Satan, the prince of the power of the air. All mankind is, by nature, “fulfilling the desires of the flesh” and are “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). No amount of good deeds is sufficient to please God and become righteous in His eyes. If we were saved by works, there would be cause for boasting (Ephesians 2:9). Rather, the requirements written in the Old Testament law provide a standard and no man can meet that standard. All are doomed and without hope — apart from God (Ephesians 2:12).
But God has a great love for humanity, for every person. It is this great love and His rich mercy that provides a way out of our brokenness (Ephesians 2:4-5). By grace, He gives us faith to believe. It is faith by which we are declared righteous in His eyes: righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Romans 3:22). Paul clearly places a strong emphasis upon faith, citing that of Abraham who was declared righteous because of his faith (Romans 4).
The cross is central to the gospel. Mankind is reconciled to God at the cross (Ephesians 2:16), as Jesus died there for our sin. This is clearly seen in what is perhaps Paul’s simplest definition of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. In this passage, Paul sets forth the key components of the gospel.
- The Death and Burial of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
- The Resurrection of Jesus and Subsequent Appearing (1 Corinthians 15:4-8). His appearing to over five hundred people is important as it substantiates the veracity and historicity of the resurrection, thereby proving that Jesus was in fact God and has the authority to forgive sin. He rose again, being seen by over five hundred people.
- This was all done “according to the Scriptures,” (repeated twice, in verses three and four) emphasizing that it is God’s plan, foreordained from the foundation of the world and revealed through His prophetic word, the Bible;
- The Gospel must be believed. In verse 11 of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul writes “…and so you believed.” It is faith in the gospel that activates the result of the gospel which is forgiveness and newness of life.