Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures . . . 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 NKJV
The Gospel means “good news.” The Gospel has three constituent elements: Jesus’ death, His burial, and resurrection. Now, because of the resurrection, guilty sinners may now freely receive salvation by grace. The Gospel also consists of Christ’s person, His redemptive work on the cross and His resurrection, His work from creation to restoration of fallen man to the ultimate consummation of all things. The message of the Gospel is “good news”—a message of grace rather than legalism; a message of faith and righteousness; a message of freedom; and, a message of power.
Paul the apostle., after delivering the gospel message of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection to the Galatians , was amazed that they had so quickly deserted the message—the grace of Christ, for a different gospel, which was not a “good news” message at all. Whenever the “good news” message is comingled with legalism or any other unscriptural teaching, true believers ought to be disturbed that the true gospel message is distorted. Paul felt so strongly about the purity of the gospel message that he said, even if he, or an angel from heaven, preached a gospel contrary to the message of salvation by the grace according to the finished works of Christ, let he or others be accursed! (See Gal. 1:6-9). Jesus Christ’s redemptive work on the cross provides fullness of grace and salvation by grace alone—that’s the message (John 1:16-17; Eph. 2:8).
Paul establishes that the message of the gospel is at its core is about faith and righteousness. “[You] have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer [you] who live, but Christ lives in [you]; and the life which [you] now live in the flesh [you] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [you] and gave Himself for [you] (Gal. 2:20). Not to accept this message is to “set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain” (Gal. 2:21). “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain . . . you are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15: 14, 17). “[I]f righteousness comes by the law, then Christ died needlessly.
Furthermore, the gospel message is a message of freedom—not bondage. Jesus said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). We are enjoined by Paul to “[s]tand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1).
And, moreover, the gospel message is about power (God’s supernatural ability available to the believer). It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. For in the gospel (the message) the righteousness that comes from God is revealed— a righteousness that works by faith from one degree to another, from the first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith (Rom. 1:17). This is the message!