The Bible is a confusing book to many. One reason is that it is actually not one single book but a compilation of sixty-six books. God breathed His Word through various authors to put together the Scriptures that speak regarding almost every issue of life.
The gospel, however, is very simple. While the Bible may be sixty-six books, the gospel is ten words – Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. Paul the Apostle explained in I Corinthians 15:3-5, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, and then by the twelve.” Note the four verbs: Christ died, was buried (the proof that He died), rose again, and was seen (evidence that He arose from the grave). Hence, the gospel in ten words is: Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead. That message is not only simple, it is profound. Those ten words show why Christianity is absolutely unique. It sets Christianity apart from all other religions of any kind, anywhere.
The gospel is about God become man.
The gospel centers on Jesus Christ who was not just another man; he was God in the flesh. He Himself said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9) That is why, although He laughed way we laugh, cried the way we cry, and became lonely the way we become lonely, He never sinned. He never once told a lie, never had an impure thought, and never had a moment of hate. Even His enemies said of Him, “I find no fault in this Man.” (Luke 23:4) When Christ breathed His last breath as He was crucified, an observer exclaimed, “Truly this Man was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:39) Other religions have taken men and treated them as though they were gods. Christianity is about the one and only God who actually became a man. When He walked the surface of the earth He was God in the flesh.
The gospel is about a person who died an undeserved and substitutionary death.
What is remarkable about Christianity is not merely that the One whom Christianity is all about died, it is that He died an undeserved death because He was dying in our place. That is what the gospel is all about. A holy God cannot tolerate sin; He has to punish it. That punishment is death. Only a perfect person can take a sinner’s punishment and wipe the slate clean. One sinner cannot pay for another sinner’s wrong. They are both guilty. Jesus Christ as the perfect Son of God was the only one who qualified to die as our substitute, take the punishment we deserved and satisfy the anger of God against our sin. When I Corinthians 15:3 says, “Christ died for our sins” that preposition “for” means “instead of” or “on behalf of”. He took our place and our punishment. Had He not died in our place, we would be eternally separated from God.
A major newspaper once told of a seven-year-old girl who knocked an electrical fence off her mother’s ankle as she lay dying. As she was saving her mother, the wire touched the girl’s arm and knocked her to the ground. When she landed, her head fell on top of the wire, completing the circuit. She was electrocuted. She died in her mother’s place. Christ died in our place. That is why on the cross He could exclaim, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) Our sins were paid in full by His death on our behalf and God could now pardon us instead of punishing us. Through simple faith in Him as our only way to God, we receive His free gift of eternal life.
The gospel is about an empty grave.
Had Christ stayed in the grave, there would be no hope for any of us. The Bible readily admits that. We are told, “If Christ is not risen… you are still in your sins!” (I Corinthians 15:17) The gospel centers on an empty grave. How could a person who has not conquered that grave Himself help us conquer it? Because He arose, He could say to us, “Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:19) Many religions can point to the grave of their founder. That grave contains a body. Should the grave be opened, that body is still there. The third day after He was crucified, Christ’s grave was empty. The body was nowhere to be found.
The gospel is about the most proven fact of history.
A critic could say, “So what? There could be a hundred explanations for that. Perhaps someone stole the body.” That though is what makes Christianity unique. The gospel’s declaration that He arose the third day is not simply a fact, it is the most proven fact of history.
Nobody has expressed it any better than Thomas Arnold, author of a three-volume history of Rome and appointed to the Chair of Modern History of Oxford. He once said, “I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort to the understanding of a fair inquirer than that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” The proof behind the resurrection is greater than the proof behind any other fact in history.