1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. . .
It’s funny that, though many fuss over what is the gospel, the Bible seems to make it plain. As Paul wraps up his letter to the Corinthians, he reminds them of the content of the gospel, and that content is very simple.
What is the gospel according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4? The gospel is Christ dying for our sins, being buried, and rising from the dead. Now, to grasp the gospel, one must grasp the details behind those elements, but the gospel is simple. Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, is the central character of the gospel. The gospel is not about you or me. The gospel is not about God’s wonderful plan or purpose for our lives. The gospel is about God—both the Father and Son who are one God.
Jesus died for our sins. Again, there is debate or discussion to be had on this element. What does it mean that Jesus died for our sins? Some say one thing, and some another. The simplest and most biblical understanding is that Christ died as a sacrificial substitute for our sins according to the Scriptures. God punished Jesus for the sins of his children. Jesus paid the price for our rebellion against God.
Jesus was buried, really dead, and he was raised from the dead. These are the hopeful elements of the gospel. Jesus did not die as a sacrifice who stayed in the grave. Yes, he was really dead. Yes, he was really entombed. But he also really came out of that tomb, and is really alive today. Jesus rose from the grave, completing his task of redeeming a people for himself. His resurrection points us to the future of all of God’s children. Everyone for whom Christ died has their sins forgiven and their eternity secured in his own eternal life.
These things are the gospel. May we never waiver from it. may we never be confused by it. may we cease to complicate it. May we never adjust it. Let the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ remain of first importance. It is because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that we can live. Apart from that grace, we are doomed.