Many lengthy volumes have been written to answer this question. We shall have to try to condense the subject-matter and look at the very basics only. Thereafter you should read and study it yourself.
"Gospel" means "good news". Of course, there are many types of good news in the world, but in the Biblical context it simply means this: God has opened a way to reconcile man with Himself. This way has been progressively prepared from the beginning of mankind: At first man lived in peace and harmony with God. Then came the fall: Adam (in Hebrew simply meaning "man") and Eve driven by their selfish desires and interests chose a way to attain their own goal under the "guidance" of Satan: They wanted to be like God. Pride and presumption made them rebellious against their Lord. They were cast out of the Garden of Eden. Their offspring very soon exemplified the corruption of man without God - one murdered his own brother.
From then on we read of the rebellion and corruption of mankind. Man was born with a compelling force within him to sin, a desire for the low. No man needed instruction in bad behaviour of any description. Everyone was born with a potential for it. The Bible states it this way:
Mankind, however, - and that is true today - rejected God's verdict as a gross exaggeration, and chose to be optimistic, believing in the evolution of human quality. God never shared that view. Much later - in the New Testament (Rom. 7:14ff.) - we read:
Every honest realist will have to consent to the truth of this statement. And it is realization that it the first stepping stone to healing! The worst of all deception appears to be that man in his sinfulness compares himself to others and concludes that he is not all that bad after all. When he realizes his condition before God, however, he may try to compensate for it by religious "duties" and good works - an exaggerated form of presumption and expression of his will for independence from God.
To continue the Genesis story: The flood which was the judgement of God followed. Only Noah and his closest family
God had a purpose for Noah and his descendents, because he believed God. He was "a preacher of righteousness" (II Peter 2:5), for having been warned by God, he built the ark and "by this condemned the world and became an heir of righteousness, which comes by faith" (Hebr. 11:7).
What then was the nature of His righteousness? He refused to participate in sin and acted on God's Word. This is what faith is all about.
Sad to say, the descendents of Noah were not better than mankind before the Flood. They thought out their plan and said:
Why does one burn brick? To make it water resistant and strong. Why should one use bitumen for mortar? It may not be stronger than clay, but again it is water resistant. Why would anyone want to build a tower that reaches to heaven? One reason is given: "Let us make a name for ourselves". It is interesting that God said to Abraham, His servant:
Abraham's name has significance, for by God's grace and intervention it became significant, whereas the people who wanted to make a name for themselves entered oblivion. But there is a second underlying reason why the tower was built. It was their means of resisting a further flood judgement by God. Should the water rise again as a result of their rebellion, they would be quite safe on the top of the tower. That is what they thought. When their tower was built ("with its top in the heavens") we read, not without irony:
Ever since then man has tried to build "towers" to escape the judgement of God - philosophical "towers", political "towers", but predominantly religious "towers". The latter are the religious systems that promise to safeguard us against judgement following our failure to live in accordance with the statutes of God, which is His requirement for communion with Himself:
Added to this are the laws regulating relations between people:
The latter part is summed up in the New Testament like this:
Where is the man with such love? Where is the women with such love?
Well, we say "I love you!" But what we mean is "I must have you for myself!"
Within this corrupt society lived Abram, or as he was later called, Abraham. God called him out from his family and religious environment - and he obeyed. He was by no means a perfect man (link Genesis 12:10-20; 15:1-6 with 16:1-4; 17:15-19; 20:1-11, etc.), but
Abraham took God at His Word; he clung to God's covenant.
It was his faith in God that was accounted as righteousness. There is a credit and a debit side in accountancy books. There is an account kept for everyone's life. Every sin - loving someone or something more than God, loving another person less than my own self (and we ought to think this over for a while!), any failure in thought, word or deed - is recorded in "the book" against us. And then we do good deeds. Where do they appear? Nowhere. It is our duty to perform them. Jesus once said:
Elsewhere we read about Abraham:
Works in themselves cannot compensate for sin. It was Abraham's faith that was accounted on the credit side:
In Abraham and through his descendants God wanted to show mankind the basis of life with Him and His principle of reconciliation after disobedience. Israel was to bring the good news of the one God and His plan for man to a world groping in the darkness of religion that was based on the deception of man and demons (Spiritism, etc.). But Israel expediently "forgot" the God of Abraham and lived in their godless though religious independence.
Again God intervened when He sent Moses. The Israelites living under bondage in Egypt were rescued by mighty signs and wonders, which God performed. No one was unaware of the majesty and power of God. And then God made a covenant with Israel. This is called the "Old Covenant", or "Old Testament" today. God commanded that Israel follow a new way of life. He gave His great commandment and stated:
But what would happen, if a man were to break one of the commandments? Would he be lost7
"If any one of the common people sins unwittingly in doing any one of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, and is guilty, when the sin which he has committed is made known to him he shall bring for his offering a goat, ... for his sin, which he has committed. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering in the place of burnt offering. And the priest shall ... pour out the ... blood at the base of the altar ... and the priest shall burn it upon the altar for a pleasing odour to the Lord; and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven." (Leviticus 4:27-31).
A man would be lost if he broke God's Law without seeking reconciliation the God-ordained way! But why did God choose such a cruel way - a sacrifice? He wanted to impress on the people the seriousness of sin. If you had to sacrifice, kill and burn your favourite pet for your next sin - surely you would do everything to avoid it!
God wanted His people to control themselves and live for Him alone. But again the people murmured and rebelled, even under Moses, and eventually fell into idolatry and complete darkness. God together with His order for life was not only abandoned, but forgotten.
Later on, all the warnings of God came true. Israel lived in defeat and eventually, in verbal fulfilment of God's prophecy, was dispersed among all nations, living under heavy persecution for many centuries.
Israel as God's chosen people was put aside because of disobedience. Nevertheless, God pursued His plan with mankind. Already to Adam and Eve God had spoken of someone to come from their descendants to "crush" the head of Satan. This one was to come from the lineage of Abraham: ("by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves" Genesis 12:3), and Isaac ("through Isaac your descendants be named" Genesis 21:12).
The Jews called this expected liberator their Messiah (indicating a king, priest or ruler who would represent the people before God). God said that He must come from the tribe of Judah, of the descendants of David:
"The Lord swore to David a sure oath from which He will not turn back: 'One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne ... this is my resting place for ever!"
"For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there be no end upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore!" (Psalm 89:3,19,27-37; 132:11; Isaiah 6:9-10).
David's throne was ascended by a son of his - but that kingdom has long since been destroyed - forgotten. Since God speaks of an eternal throne He meant something else, for no human kingdom is eternal. The son, the prophet speaks of (born of a virgin - Isaiah 7:14) is Jesus, the Messiah: the Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace! But where is this peace - the promised justice and righteousness? Where is this Kingdom? Jesus answered these questions thus:
Those that are part of God's Kingdom have peace with God. They have been forgiven and restored to God and have received righteousness.
When Jesus was born He fulfilled the many prophecies of the Old Testament pointing to Him. He established the Kingdom of God. In Him God has revealed Himself. He lived sinlessly before a watching world, showing mankind the Way. The He died on the cross - as The Sacrifice that every man needs to be reconciled to God the Father.
This is the "Good News" or "Gospel". Without it there is nothing a man can do, except to live according to the commands of his "self" - "sold under sin". When Jesus came, as predicted, He took our guilt and sin on Himself. He suffered the consequences of sin. The justice that should have hit me, hit Him:
That is good news! All you cannot do has been done for you. Now you can live the rest of your life in gratitude to God, who became your Saviour (Isaiah 63:7-11). Your life belongs to Him and you, like a sheep that went astray and was later found, may hear His voice and follow Him in faith. He knows His own, for He laid down His life as a ransom for them - and gives His own eternal life. That is good news!
But Jesus did not remain dead! He was raised from the dead by the glory of God! Good news again! He was raised to heaven, and
More good news! or is it bad news to you? He is coming again - to judge in righteousness all those who did not want to bow their knees before Him (Philippians 2:9-10), or were too presumptuous or proud to receive His pardon. But He comes to raise up all those who died physically, but had placed their hope and trust in Him!
All this is done under the New Covenant or New Testament. It was forecast under the Old Covenant:
When Jesus died on the cross, the just for the unjust, the New Testament was ratified and is valid and open for all who wish to receive God's pardon for their sin - His Way - until He returns to pronounce judgement.
The the good news will no longer be valid to those who have resisted God's love or have preferred man-made religion.
Peace with God does not come about automatically. Although Jesus died for all mankind potentially, only those who now avail themselves of the offer of pardon receive it. It is therefore, your personal responsibility to make peace with God. You have been called upon to do so, for the Bible says:
We have also been commanded to return to God:
So we must respond to this call and command. This happens in practice when you make an assessment of your life, realize the sin in it, and resolve to turn away from it in remorse over it.
In response to this, God committed Himself:
Since it is the sacrifice of Jesus that alone can cleanse and free us from our sins, we receive Him as our Salvation(= Jesus). This is the very start of a life in deep union with God. You have now only been cleansed. The filth of your life and heart has been removed. Now your heart must be filled with new things, but first of all with God Himself. Now he must be allowed and invited (by prayer) to sit on the throne of our life and heart. The Holy Spirit of God will now renew our life. Our will is surrendered to His Will.
Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new. And this is of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ." (II Corinthians 5:15,17-18).
A man who has done this is now the property of God. He is accepted by God on His terms. He is forgiven. He now receives new power and guidance in God's Word to live that new life. And that is for God's glory and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth. It will lead to a life of beauty and holiness - without being cranky and unbalanced. We are restored to the original meaning and purpose of life - a life where all the fulness of God, not only the spiritual but also that provided in creation, can be experienced day by day. Perhaps most important of all: I can know my destiny. There is no longer fear of the future, particularly of death, for my sins are forgotten by God. He says so!
Just as Noah and his family in the Ark were safe, so those that are in Jesus are safe from the wrath of God that is to come.
This new life as a reborn believer brings out new desires:
Firstly, to live a God-pleasing life in devotion and gratitude in love, secondly, the longing for fellowship with like-minded people; and, thirdly, to share this new life and hope with others. That is, indeed, the very purpose of this book.
So we invite you not to be shy, not to put it off till later, but to contact us for more information or for free and frank discussion on any of the topics of this book without your feeling under any obligation to go further than you wish. You may be assured of our discretion.
You may contact the compiler of this study at
P.O. Box 273
or anyone from the Christian fellowship that introduced this book to you.
But even if you do not wish to call on anyone, at the very least you ought to obtain a New Testament in a modern translation and study it yourself in the light of these notes - and in comparison with the Qur'an.
After having answered the majority of relevant questions put to Christians by Muslims, we as Christians wish to ask our Muslim friends about the validity and the evidences of their faith. Please write to ask for a copy of the book
Christians Answer Muslims: Table of Contents
Answering Islam Home Page