I Corinthians 15:1-11
In these verses we find Paul's definition of the Gospel. And, since Paul was inspired, we find what the Gospel consists of in reality. This Gospel is not a self-help, how to have a successful marriage, ordering your finances, how to raise your kids lecture. The Gospel is the very power of God to salvation. (Romans 1:16) It is God speaking, revealing Himself and the way to eternal life. And it is centered on Christ. Christ Died for our sins, Christ fulfilled Old Testament prophecy, Christ was buried and rose again and Christ was seen by the Apostles before, and after, His ascension.
Christ Died For Our Sins
The first part of the message that Paul preached, is that Christ died for our sins. The necessity of the Gospel is due to the fact that we are sinners. 'Well, nobody's perfect', you might say. This is true, and the fact that it is true is what makes it imperative that we understand and believe the Gospel. You see the 'nobody's perfect' argument does not mean that since everyone has sinned that God will somehow grade on the curve. In truth, it means just the opposite. Since no one is perfect we must suffer an eternity in hell. But really the problem of sin is not just falling a little short of perfect. Sin is falling short of the Glory of God. (Romans 3:23) God created us in His image, in order that we might reflect His Glory back to Him. (Genesis 1:26-28) But something has gone terribly wrong with creation. Sin entered, and when sin entered the image of God in mankind was broken. James Montgomery Boice used this illustration in his Expsoitional Commentary on Ephesians.
"The Bible teaches that men and women were created in the image of God. But when our parents, Adam and Eve, sinned by disobeying God's righteous law, that image was broken beyond repair. This does not mean that there is no value at all to human nature. Even a broken pitcher is not without value. Archaeologistsuse pieces of broken pottery to date civilizations uncovered by their digs. I have seen bits of pottery used as ashtrays or even some on which pictures have been printed. Broken pottery is not worthless. But it is worthless so far as carrying milk is concerned. In the same way, human nature in its broken state is useless for pleasing God or earning heaven."
(James Montgomery Boice, Ephesians, An Expositional Commentary, Grand Rapids, Mich.:Baker Book, 2002, 64-65.)
As broken humans we are incapable of serving the purpose for which we were created. We are sinners, unable to glorify God, unable to reflect His Glory back to Him. And sin has its consequences. All who live in sin are condemned to an eternity in hell. And there is no one that does good. (Romans 3:10-18) Except for one. The Son of God became man, and lived among us as the perfect man. (John 1:14) He lived a life as a man without sin. The Bible also tells us that He perfectly reflected the Glory of the Father. (John 1:14-18) He is called the 'Express Image' of the Father. (Colossians 1:15) And then, as the only man who ever lived that did not deserve death, He died. Why? Not for His own sins, He had none. He died for our sins. He became sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God. (II Corinthians 5:21)
According to the Scriptures
The Apostle Paul continues with his Gospel 'presentation' by saying that Christ died 'according to the Scriptures.' In these words Paul tells us that the coming of Christ was no surprise. The Old Testament scriptures had looked forward to Christ from the time sin first entered the world. (Genesis 3) Paul as a student of these scriptures, though blinded in the early years of his life, was keenly aware of all of the prophecies, types and anti-types, sacrifices, feasts, and the covenant that looked forward to Christ. Time and space do not permit a listing here, but there are many books available that point this out. Or better yet, read the Old Testament and look for Christ. (Luke 24:25-27) You will find Him. At any rate, the point is that Jesus is the promised Redeemer, not only of Israel, but of the whole world. Jesus is the Christ.
(Also in these words we find that through the pages of scripture is how Paul preached the Gospel. And it is only in the pages of scripture where the Gospel is found. Man will not be saved by general revelation. It is through the preaching of the Gospel as revealed in the pages of scripture.)
He Was Buried And Rose Again
After Jesus death on the cross as a common criminal, in which He experienced the wrath of God to the fullest for each of those who believe, we have testimony that he was buried. He lay dead in the tomb for three days and three nights. But the story of Jesus death ends there. On the third day he rose from the dead! He rose as the victor over death, hell, and the grave. Death, hell and the grave is what we deserved, but Christ conquered them and now offers us the oppotunity to share in that victory. The resurrection also offers us the comfort that the Father accepted Christ's sacrifice on our behalf, and so accepts us in Christ. The Father approved of the death of the Son, why should we think then that He will not accept us in His Son? (Acts17:22-31)
He Was Seen By the Apostles
The resurrection of Christ is not without proof. He was seen by the Apostles. He was even seen by five hundred people at once. He really did come back to life. And Paul saw Him. And to those Apostles He gave this commission, "Go preach the Gospel." And they did. They faithfully passed on to the next generation the 'Good News' of salvation by faith in Christ. This Gospel has been passed on to us. May we be faithful to pass it our children and grand-children.