Editor’s note: This post is part of a series featuring outstanding excerpts from student papers at the BibleMesh Institute, which offers affordable online training for local churches, schools, and ministries. The author’s name has been withheld for privacy and security purposes. She is preparing to serve as a missionary overseas.
The Gospel is the central message of the Bible. God’s people waited thousands of years for salvation by a Messiah, and now thousands of years later, God’s people look back to the significance of the Messiah that came and changed the world. Jesus is that Messiah and his earthly life story is the greatest story ever told.
When God created the world, he created humans to be with him. He loved his creation and wanted a relationship with humans. He gave them instructions that would give them wonderful life. However, the first humans disobeyed God, and evil entered the world. God cannot be around evil because he is perfectly good. Humans became separated from God and could not be in relationship with him, as was first intended, because of their unrighteousness and disobedience to God. Ever since then, humans have been looking for a way back to knowing God. They try to earn their way back by completing tasks, buy a way back with wealth, or sometimes completely ignore the way back by plunging into violence and evil. But humans need God, and God loves us so much that he provided a way to return to a relationship with him.
About 2,000 years ago, God sent his Son Jesus to earth. Jesus lived a perfect life fully devoted to God. Because of this, Jesus was able to become the perfect sacrifice for the evil in us. Jesus died on a wooden cross, taking the punishment we deserve for our wrongdoing. By doing this, he gave us his righteousness so we can now have a relationship with God and know his love. Jesus died and accepted our punishment, and was buried. Three days later, however, he came back to life! Jesus defeated evil and death.
Jesus told his followers to tell the world of this good news. Jesus died for us and defeated death so that by faith in him, we can be restored into relationship with God and look forward to everlasting life with God once our earthly bodies pass away. In the Bible, it is written that God loved the world and gave his son Jesus so that whoever believes in him will have eternal life and be saved (John 3:16-17). This is good news. And this story is called the gospel. It’s what God wants the world to know so that people can come back into relationship with him.
God loves his people and sent his son Jesus so that people can realize who God is and experience his love for them. The gospel is the story of Jesus’ dying for our sin, unrighteousness, and evil acts against his will, and giving us the hope of salvation and eternal life. Man’s greatest need is righteousness, which is only offered through the gospel founded on the principle of faith in an atoning Savior. Within this story, Jesus takes on our unrighteousness and gives us his righteousness instead. This is called substitutionary atonement.
 George Williams, The Complete Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1994), 853.
 Walter A. Elwell, Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), “Entry for ‘Substitutionary Atonement.’”