In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul reminds the believers at Corinth concerning the gospel that he had already preached to them. In verse 3, he says the gospel is more important than anything else that He has written within the biblical corpus. This doesn’t mean that the other issues that have been addressed in the Bible are unimportant. What it does mean is that if we don’t get the gospel right, we won’t have Christianity right.
Prior to delineating the uniqueness of the gospel, there are two presuppositions that need to be considered. Firstly, the uniqueness of the gospel is not assessed by human standards but by God’s revelation. The gospel is not like a restaurant where our taste buds and delight judge its importance and uniqueness. Let me provide an anecdotal example: as I was preparing to write this article, I struggled to make this article interesting, creative, and attractive for the reader. This, my friends, can sometimes be a misguided motivation that is actually counter gospel. The Lord is gracious to point out my pride to me, but if I was truly pondering and applying the gospel my first impulse would not be to look good by means of this article. If I was driven by the gospel, my primary impulse would be that of gratefulness towards our sovereign Lord who looked down to a mere sinful mortal like me and rescued me from my filth. Therefore, the assertions made in this article are true so far as they are clear expositions of the Bible.
Secondly, the gospel doesn’t aspire to be unique like some humans. It is already unique because of its origin and effects. Many try to find a niche so that people would look to them as invaluable. However, the gospel does no such boasting. While the gospel is the single most important thing that any individual needs, the gospel reaches down to the lowliest and reviled.
The gospel is unique in its essence as well as its effects. The dictionary meaning of essence is the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines its character. The “good news” of Jesus Christ has certain qualities intrinsic to itself that sets it apart as unique or unlike anything else humankind has ever known.
The gospel is essentially unique because of its divine origin. In Acts 2, verses 22-24 we are told that the crucifixion of Jesus was a “definite” or “foreordained” plan of God. This same assertion is made in Luke 22:22. During his last supper with His disciples, Jesus Himself announces that His betrayal was “determined” or “planned” by God. The gospel, then, is not “plan B” for God’s rescue of humanity. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the sins of mankind and the glory of God was an act determined before the foundation of the world. This is unlike any other remedy for mankind’s problems available on the earth. While many suggest looking deep within oneself to find a solution for life’s problems, the gospel finds the solution in the creator God. If we look deep within ourselves for a solution to our problems, what we will notice is that we are the cause of our problems. However, if we look to God, we will find that He is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6).
The gospel is also essentially unique because of its holistic solution. By “holistic” I mean that the gospel does not just provide a solution for one aspect of the cosmos, but for the entire cosmos. The gospel doesn’t provide a solution for one aspect of the human being, but for the entire human being. We are told in Romans 8:19-23 that creation faces the consequences of sin in all of its existence and is groaning for its redemption. The gospel provides a full restoration of the created order with the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21).
Effective and Permanent
The gospel provides a solution for the entire human race that is both effective and permanent. Human beings continually grasp at finding solutions for a holistic and meaningful life today. However, without the good news of Jesus, it is a chasing after the wind. Some suggest that the body is evil and therefore one needs to transcend the bodily needs and look for something that enriches the soul alone. The Bible clearly tells us that all of those that repent of their sin and believe that Jesus is their Lord and Saviour will be bodily resurrected (Matt. 22:30-31; Lk. 14:14; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thess. 4:16). In the Christian gospel, the body is not an evil entity that needs to be subjected to pain and torment. In the original creation, the body was created by God and was good (Gen. 1). Fixing the body without fixing the soul or vice-versa does not lead to a permanent solution to man’s deepest problem, sin (Mk. 8:36). But Jesus and His death on the cross effectively takes care of sin and provides a permanent solution for the entire mankind (Jn. 5:24).
Satisfies Justice while Exhibiting Love
The Gospel is also unique because it satisfies justice while exhibiting love. We are told in Romans 1:18 that the wrath of God is upon all unrighteousness and evil. This wrath is not a reaction to man’s plight, since an omniscient God never reacts but always acts sovereignly. So, the wrath of God is His predisposition to everything that is anti-God. Man is evil and commits treason against the holy and sovereign Lord and therefore, man rightly and justly deserves God’s wrath (Jer. 17:9, Ps. 51:5, Tit. 1:15-16). Mercy without justice is left wanting, since while being merciful to one, we might be hating others. God has to punish sin in order to remain true to His character of goodness and justice. But it is in the gospel where justice and mercy meet. As Spurgeon says, “I am sure it is God’s gospel; for nobody could have invented a plan so just to God, so safe to man.”1 God sent His Son to take on human flesh so that he would die on the cross in spite of being perfectly righteous as an atoning sacrifice for the redemption of sinful mankind. There is nothing that compares to the gospel when it comes to justice met and mercy extended (1 Tim. 1:15, 1 Pet. 3:18).
Friends, in the Christian gospel we have the most important message for mankind. God planned the rescue of mankind from utter and eternal destruction while still maintaining His justice. What a message! What a God!