Since I suggested others be canvassed about what they believe the gospel is, I think it only fair that I attempt to relate my understanding of it.
It is supernatural, it is spiritual and it is the way God has chosen to redeem us.
It is unlike anything else and so quite a challenge for us to comprehend.
I believe God created us all sinless in the first Adam when he was created (one of the meanings of the word ‘adam’ is mankind) and Adam’s failure legally impacted all of us, resulting in our mortality and sin. God then put us in another Adam, the last Adam, Christ, and so, in His death, in the eyes of God, Christ legally carried us through our death, the penalty for our sin. This means that the law, which demanded our death (the wages of sin is death) got its just verdict and has been satisfied. It no longer has a claim on us. Besides, Romans 7:1 tells us that the law only has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives.
Paul was chosen by God to explain this wonderful good news or gospel.
Here is some of the language he used in his explanation:
He called it a gift or free gift in Romans 5:15 & 16.
In Romans 6 & 7 Paul wrote we have died to the law through the body of Christ, we have been released from the law, having died to that by which we were bound, we have been baptized into Christ’s death, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death to rise in newness of life, we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, our old self was crucified with Him, he who has died is justified from sin, and we are to consider ourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Paul also said that he had been crucified with Christ and Christ now lives within him (Gal 2:20), and to those who were falling back into lawkeeping as salvific, He said, ‘I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died needlessly.’ (Gal 2:21), i.e., if a person believes that lawkeeping saves them, then Christ’s death wasn’t necessary. (They are really an Old Covenant believer.)
We are to see ourselves as being released from the law (dead to the law) and stop trying to obtain righteousness by keeping the law as the OC mandated.
‘Therefore by the works of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight’. And ‘We are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’. And ‘A man is justified by faith without the works of the law.’ (Rom 3: 20, 24, 28). So, our obedience is not salvific (we do not have to try to earn salvation). Rather, our faith in what Christ has done for us (His death enabling ours) is the channel through which we receive it.
We are to marvel at this new creation life, this resurrection life, this eternal life that is ours (part of the gospel is this new life in Christ replacing the old) instead of still trying to perfect the doomed (and already legally dead), sinful, Adamic man (the man of flesh we were all born) by following the law.
To pass out of one realm one must die to it. In Christ, we have died to this our present, physical realm. To enter a new realm one must be begotten or born into it. In Christ, we are this new creation, spiritual life.
The Bible says that the Holy Spirit begets or implants His seed within us. Jesus told Nicodemus you must be begotten from above (John 3:3). Paul said that he had begotten believers by sharing the gospel (1Cor 4:15). Peter explained to believers that ‘…you have been begotten again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is through the living and enduring word of God.’ (1Peter 1:23). John understood this as well because he wrote that even though there is still some sin remaining in our lives and God will forgive us (1John 1:7-10), the divine, begotten seed growing within us cannot sin (1John 3:9). The New Covenant tells us that He is writing His law in our minds and on our hearts. Our old nature is being replaced with something new. Paul says we are a new creation (Gal 6:15; Rom 6:4; 2Cor 5:17). Keeping the law will become part of our nature. It is a result of our salvation, not the cause.
Much more could be said of course, but I believe this is the wonderful truth of what Christ has done for us, this is the good news or gospel. I don’t think we can really understand it but we can be thankful for it, and appreciate the love that was its source.
Gideon, concerning your comment (#72) about playing church, I agree that we are called upon to overcome the Adamic, sinful, condemned man that God has chosen not to remove from us yet. Our ‘dead man walking’ is stubborn and can be difficult to deal with as Paul told us in Romans 7. If we want to go further with God, our works will reflect this, and how we deal with our old self is part of that.
I believe Adventism is correct in saying that there will be a judgment of believers at the end of this age based on our works. The Bible is clear that we will be judged and rewarded or punished according to our works. This is stated in many verses (Matt 16:27; Rom 2:5-6; 14:10-12; 1Cor 3:8; 2Cor 5:10; 11:15; Jude 15; Rev 20:12-13; 22:12).
Paul wrote that works are important. He also said he was striving to reach something he had not yet attained. He used metaphors like running in a race to win the prize, getting fit by practicing (shadow) boxing and disciplining his body so that he would not be disqualified (1Cor 9:23-27). He said he was pressing on toward some sort of goal that he had not reached. He called it ‘the upward call of God’ and said he hadn’t ‘laid hold of it yet’ (Phil 3:9-14). I think Paul wanted to be more than a citizen of the kingdom, he was striving to be a leader.
Please don’t forget that Paul told us that salvation is a free gift of God to believers we receive by faith alone. So, I think that the issue under consideration in this coming judgment of our works is not our salvation. I believe it is to determine our roles in the coming kingdom.
The Bible gives us some ideas about this.
Some will be part of the priesthood (Is 66:21; Rev 5:10; 20:6).
2Tim 2:12, Dan 7:22 and Rev 2:26; 20:4,6 say that some will reign with Christ in the next age. Perhaps you are to become an administrator like Daniel (Dan 6:2) or a ruler over five or ten cities (Luke 19:15-19; Deut 1:13-15).
When all is finally said and done, because no type of sin will be allowed in the kingdom and there will be people judged to be at various degrees of holiness entering the next age, I believe God will bestow the honour of becoming judges to some of His saints – not to administer punishment as man does in order to separate the guilty from society and act as a deterrent but to apply the law in the compassion of Christ to correct, restore and assist those whom the judgment at the end of this age will show are still on the journey to glorification. Jesus said to his disciples,’…when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’ (Matt 19:28). Paul said to the Corinthians, ‘…do you not know that the saints will judge the world? Do you not know that we will judge angels?’ (1Cor 6:2-3).
So, I believe assessing our progress in the process of sanctification now is the issue in the coming judgment. Those who submit most fully to God in this age the Bible calls overcomers. In other words, in them the divine seed within planted by the gospel has grown to the point of maturity. This is challenging because the old, condemned Adamic man (one’s ego?) does not want to give up. Few get there in this age. Jesus says the way is narrow which leads to life and only a few find it (Matt 7:14). The ones who do (I think the Bible also calls them the elect or first fruits) will be granted this eternal life first and will be given the honour of some type of authority (under Christ of course) to assist others in their journey in the next stage of the kingdom.
In summary, the Bible is the story of two Adams. Each ‘carried us’ through something - one bad, one good (actually better than good). What each did was outside of our control. Faith is believing that the second more than outdid the damage caused by the first. I believe that is basis of the gospel, the core of Christianity.