The Essence of the Gospel

1 John 1:1-2

The Gospel Coalition. Evangelicals and Catholics Together. Together for the Gospel. Just a few of dozens of organizations committed to evangelism. Would seem Christians are working together in large numbers to bring Gospel to the unconverted. Yet among these groups and others there’s not agreement on who needs to hear the Gospel. Nor is there agreement on what the Gospel is. Primary cause is lack of unity about the essence of the Gospel.

Essence = that which makes something what it is, without which it no longer is what it is. With regard to Gospel, is it the concept of sin? promise of deliverance from hell? an idea? a person? If a person, who is it that makes the Gospel good news? without whom the Gospel is no longer good news? And what makes that person uniquely suited to be the essence of the Gospel?

If we are to follow Paul’s example, able to declare as he did, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel” (Rom. 1:16), need right answers. After all, it’s valid question: if Jesus is essential to Gospel, which Jesus? Historical Jesus? Dan Brown’s Jesus (Da Vinci Code)? Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witness Bible? of the Book of Mormon? or Muhammad’s Jesus? and, …don’t forget, Jesus of the Bible? If Gospel is not good news without Jesus, we better make sure we have the right Jesus because it can’t be all of them. John answers those questions to some degree as he opens his letter.

A. eternal Son of God

same person as Gospel

“what was from the beginning, …the word of life” (Epistle)

“in the beginning was the word, …in him was life” (Gospel)

one who was with God – distinct from the Father

who was God – one with the Father

same beginning as Gospel

“in the beginning was the word” “all things were made through him” (Gospel)

“in the beginning God created” (Genesis)

if all things, everything, made through him; not even one thing came into being without him

existed before creation, before the world began, before Genesis beginning

means he is uncreated, eternal

corroborated by Jesus

7 occurrences of εγώ ειμι, I am, found in John’s Gospel (John 8:24, 8:28, 8:58, 13:19, 18:5, 18:6, and 18:8), directly connected with belief first 4 times

8:28 “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

John 17:5Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”


one of whom John speaks: eternal (from before creation) Son (who prayed to his Father) of God (word was God), not “one of us”

B. incarnate Savior


number – we, our, us

plural – John not standing alone

considers himself one of many witnesses

1 Cor. 15:5-7and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.

John never gets to 1st person until 2:1


final commission – Acts 1:8 “you shall be witnesses”

report on first-hand experience and knowledge

their witness

heard (ears)

real content – objective teaching

“words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63)

according to Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life?” (John 6:68)

seen (eyes)

real form – not hallucination

walking on the water, Fear not

eating, sleeping, walking, teaching, touching, healing, hanging, bleeding, dead

in the locked room – Peace; touch my hands, side; at the seashore – making breakfast

perceived (minds)

permanence – contemplating over time so as to develop understanding

touched (hands)

real substance – not an apparition

handled so as to know what it was

manifested (1 Tim. 3:16)

made “clearly apparent or obvious to the mind and senses”


our faith based on historical fact

real man with real existence and real accomplishments – one of us

C. God-Man

eternal source (word) of life, able to be heard/seen/touched

“eternal life …manifested to us”

a mystery John declares but does not explain

with the Father, manifested to us (see also John 1:14)

God come down from heaven, born in the flesh

God, stooping down to take on human flesh

subject to everything we are, but without sin

pain, sorrow, disappointment, emotional hurt, weariness, betrayal, even death

not just physical death in our place, subject to our punishment in our place

experienced the essence of hell, satisfied his Father’s justice that his people might go free

with the Father, from the Father, the only way to the Father – John 14:6-9

to see/know him is to see/know the Father

goes beyond knowledge, involves experience

eternal God came down here, “became flesh and dwelt among us” that he might redeem us and raise us to dwell with God

one of last requests to his Father: “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they can see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” (John 17:24)

the only foundation for fellowship (v.3)

fellowship with one another – in Christ

fellowship with God the Father – through Christ, his Son

D. Life-giver

word of Life

in him is life – exclusive message – life can be found nowhere else

life on earth, from Christ; life in heaven, from Christ; life on other planet, from Christ; eternal life, from Christ

no Christ, no life; no eternal self-existent uncreated God, no anything

only source of life from eternity; only source of life of any kind

eternal life manifested

pop expression – “get a life”; go to Christ, he’s only source of eternal life

what’s significance of life, meaning of life, purpose of life, value of life, future of life – look at Christ

life that is light – John 1:4

life and light in Christ bring his people out of darkness and death

brings out of bondage in sin and danger of eternal damnation

“He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces.” Psalm 107:14

essential for eternal life – John 17:3

Jesus said: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

also said, “unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” John 8:24

if we really believe that, we must be certain our faith is in this Jesus, bring others to same Jesus

Began with essence of Gospel – who is it? For Gospel to be genuine good news, must get it right. For Gospel to bring true life, must get it right. If Bible is correct that “God has spoken to us by his son” (Heb. 1:1-2), to be estranged from the son is to be deaf to God and with zero hope in the world or for eternity.

Fellow asked few days ago: how is Jesus speaking to us today and what is he saying? Speaks by his word accompanied by his Spirit. Is still saying “follow me”. As you go, make other followers. By God’s grace that we are his followers. By his grace that we remain his followers. His grace truly is precious and without limit – there’s enough for all who will come to him. May God continue to equip and enable us by his grace to point many to the only one who gives eternal life – Lord Jesus, our Savior and our God.


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