What is the gospel?--

The Gospel, “Speaking the Word of the Lord”, “Preaching Jesus”, and baptism




The term “gospel” is a Greek term and simply means “good news”.  Notice that passages in the New Testament relating to non-Christians being taught the Gospel, or, the “Word of the Lord”, always teach or illustrate, in the very same breath, that baptism is the correct response to this good news.


Acts 8:12

But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.


Mark 16:15-16

And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.


The Bible does not always spell out what we have to do to be lost. Instead, it tells us what we have to do to be saved and expects us to realize that, if we don't obey it, we will be lost.


The pattern set in the New Testament for Biblical conversion includes these three elements combined:

1.)               Faith

2.)              Repentance

3.)              Baptism for the forgiveness of sins


Acts 8:35-38

Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.  As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?” Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." The eunuch answered, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.


Notice the account of the Ethiopian eunuch undeniably illustrates that baptism is in water. This is no baptism “in the Spirit.” And Ephesians 4 :4-5 says the there is only ONE baptism. After having the Gospel told to him, the eunuch responds by requesting baptism. This can only mean that Philip’s teaching of the Gospel (good news) included proper instruction on the purpose of baptism.


Acts 16:12-15

From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district

of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river,

where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.

One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a

worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. When she and the members of her household were baptized,

she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.


Notice the Scripture says that Lydia responded to Paul’s message. What must have been part of Paul’s message? Well, she responded to his message by being baptized, so Paul’s message had to include the topic of baptism! --And being baptized is equated with belief.


Notice also, that Lydia’s response to the preaching of the kingdom of God was identical to the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40 and the Samaritans in Acts 8:5,12. They all responded by being baptized.  If baptism is when our sins are forgiven and we become saved, baptism absolutely has to be part of the message of the kingdom of God! And this is why baptism always has been part of the message of the good news!


Acts 16:30-33

He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.


See notes on Acts 16:25-33.


To reject baptism is to reject Christ’s gospel.  (Of course, Biblical baptism also means faith and repentance from our sins have been fulfilled as a prerequisite). According to Jesus, baptism is when we are re-born:


John 3:3-5

In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. "
"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.


And we see this birth of “water and the Spirit” starting in Acts 2:38:


Acts 2:38-41
Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God will call." And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.


Now if the gospel message includes proper instruction in the purpose of baptism, then it only stands to reason that rejecting baptism is rejecting the gospel. And rejecting the Gospel, the Bible warns us, is playing with fire. Literally:


Galatians 1:6-10

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.


In this very same letter Paul teaches about baptism two chapters later. See Galatians 3:26-27.


But the real issue here isn't baptism. The real issue at hand is the gospel and whether we believe it. If baptism is a part of the gospel and we reject this message, we fall under condemnation because we do not believe the message God has given us. If the Bible says we have to be baptized to be saved and we do not believe this, we do not believe the Word of the Lord and will be condemned as an unbeliever. That is why Jesus said, He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”


2Thessalonians 1:5-10

All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.


Paul’s testimony covered many things. But from his writings it can be clearly seen his teaching on baptism remained absolutely consistent with the rest of Scripture: Baptism is a part of the Gospel message. Why? Because baptism is a requirement for salvation.


And just what is the gospel? Let’s see what the Bible says about the gospel:


1Corinthinas 15:2-4

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise,

you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance:

that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,


Notice three things about the gospel. It involves the-

1.)   Death of Christ

2.)   Burial of Christ

3.)   Resurrection of Christ


Remember 2Thessalonians 1 above? It says we must obey the gospel or we will be lost. This is a “life and death” statement! So, how does one obey the gospel”? How does one obey the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—an event that happened 2,000 years ago?


Easy. By God’s grace, He allows us, even today, to participate in this historical event that took place centuries ago.


Romans 6:3-4

Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized

into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.


We obey the gospel—the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ through baptism!


“Obeying the gospel”



“If we died with him, we will also live with him;” –2Timothy 2:11



For this reason, the apostle Peter was able to say,


“…and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body

but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

--1Peter 3:21


If we accept baptism, we accept Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection—and will be saved. But if we reject baptism, we reject Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. We will then be shut out from the Lord’s presence, the Bible warns, and punished with everlasting destruction. This is a very serious matter. Take heed.



To sum up

What is the Gospel?


The gospel (good news) is simply this: Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophesied messiah in the Old Testament Scriptures. He died for our sins on a cross and God resurrected Him from the dead. Anyone wishing to have eternal life through His name may do so by believing Jesus is the Son of God, by repenting of his or her sins and by being baptized (full water immersion) into Him for the purpose of having their sins forgiven and washed away by God. In this manner rebirth is accomplished. The Lord will give them the gift of His Holy Spirit and He will add them to His body—the church. If they continue in their faith after baptism they shall be with the Lord forever. They shall have life eternal beyond the physical death of the body.


In one sentence, the gospel is the good news of how you can be saved from your sins through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.



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This page last updated: Feb. 26, 2010