What do you think of when you hear the word “gospel”? Perhaps you think of a type of music, like the once-famous song “Turn Your Radio On” (I’ll give you a minute to YouTube that one. Check out Roy Acuff’s version). Or maybe you think of a zealous street preacher, televangelist, or someone like Billy Graham. Or maybe you happen to know that the first books of the New Testament are known as the “gospels.” But really it is much simpler than all that. The word “gospel” simply means “good news.”
What is the gospel? Christians believe that the gospel is this: the knight has come to slay the dragon and rescue the princess. You’ll have to forgive me for borrowing the language of the old fairy tales, but then again many of the great stories through the ages involve the hero rescuing the helpless from great harm. So please hear me out as I channel the imagination of my kids, who loved knights and dragons. Yet this is not child’s play. I am convinced that this is the very meaning of life.
So when I say Christians believe that the knight has come to slay the dragon and rescue the princess, here is what I mean. The dragon is all the evil in this world. Evil that we see on the evening news. Evil down the street. Evil in our homes. Evil on our lips and in our hearts. Evil now pervades the world, which God made good. We call this evil “sin” which results in spiritual, and physical death.
The princess is the helpless, hopeless, yet beloved people that are surrounded on every side, within and without, by the forces of evil. We can’t rescue ourselves. We are caught in, and take part in, evil. We are in fact as good as dead. We need a rescuer.
The knight of course is God himself. The one true God who made the universe and everything in it, came down to earth as Jesus, to conquer evil, to defeat sin and death, and rescue his people and give them true life. How did Jesus defeat evil? By the most unexpected way possible. He took on all the evil in the world, and died a sacrificial death on a cross. For 3 long days it appeared that the dragon had won. But then he was raised to life, and has defeated the power of death for his beloved people. He has slayed the dragon to rescue his people, and offers us true life and true joy.
So how do you become a part of his people? How do you become a Christian? According to Jesus, it requires just two steps: First, turn from the evil that pervades not only this world, but your own heart and life. Jesus says “repent.” Second, turn to Jesus, listen to him speak through the Bible, trust that He is indeed the one true God of the universe, that he did indeed rescue you from sin, and he is indeed worth praising and worshiping, and he is indeed worth giving your very life. Jesus says “believe.” Repent and believe.
Jesus Christ, our good knight, came to slay the dragon of sin, death and evil, to rescue all who will repent and believe in him. That’s the gospel.
A well-known Bible verse says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Repent and believe in Jesus today, and receive eternal life now and forever. This is the good news of the gospel. This is the story of the Bible. This is the story of Christianity. This can be your story too.
Do you hear God calling you? Do you believe the gospel of Jesus but aren’t sure what to do next? As one who was once in the firm and deadly grip of the dragon, it would be my joy to introduce (or reintroduce) you to Jesus, the only one who can truly rescue.
Bob Wiegers is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Bennington. As one of your community pastors, I would be very happy to listen and pray with you any time.