What is "the gospel" anyways?
Whether someone is new to the idea of Jesus, a Christian first getting into studying their Bible, or a longtime believer who always wants to learn more, they have probably heard the word "gospel" before. The Christian gospel is the cornerstone of Christian teachings and beliefs and it is essential for Christians to understand what the gospel is and what it means for believers.
First, it must be understood that the bible is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament was all written before Jesus' time; The New Testament contains books written after the coming of Jesus.
So, where does the gospel fit in the Bible?
The term "gospel" is used by Christians to refer to the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These books are four different accounts of the life and death of Jesus Christ.
The New Testament starts with Matthew; it begins with the genealogy of Jesus and continues to the story of his birth and through the rest of his life (including many of his famous miracles and teachings), his crucifixion, death and resurrection. Following Matthew is Mark, which starts instead with John the Baptist, who baptized many people, proclaiming that the coming of Jesus was upon them. God reveals to John that Jesus is his son when John baptizes Jesus. Mark does not include the story of Jesus' birth. The book Luke does include the story of Jesus' birth like the book of Matthew. The book of John starts similarly to the book of Mark, starting with John the Baptist and skipping the birth of Jesus. All books of the gospel contain teachings and miracles of Jesus and end with his death and resurrection.
So, not all gospel books include the story of Jesus' birth?
Correct, because the focus of the gospel is not the birth of Jesus. The majority of the gospel is the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. That is why the gospel is the perfect place for a new Christian to start reading; God sent Jesus to show us how Christians should live and act. Jesus came as an example. He answered many questions during his short life here on earth, questions that Christians are still asking today. The gospel is the perfect place to start searching for answers. Jesus' philosophy, how he treated others, and his loving nature can all be read about it the gospel books and every Christian would benefit greatly from studying the life and teachings of Jesus.
So, the message of the Christian gospel is how to live more like Jesus?
No, not completely. The story of Jesus' birth, his life, his actions and his teachings are all extremely significant parts of the gospel, but the central message, often referred to as "the good news", is actually the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus was sent by God not just to be an example for Christians for how to live, Jesus was sent as a sacrifice for the sins of all believers. Humans can strive to live like Jesus, but humans will still sin. Humans will always sin. Jesus was sent by God, he was perfect and he never sinned. He gave up his own life to pay for the sins of everyone else, so that believers could receive eternal life with him in Heaven.
So, the message of the gospel, the first four books of the New testament, is that Jesus died to save me from my sins because he loves me?