What would you say is the power of God for salvation?
I’m guessing most Catholics would say Jesus dying on the cross for our sins or baptism gives us that power, and that’s true, but did you know that the Bible calls the Gospel the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith (Romans 1:16)?
So, what is the Gospel? The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that the Gospel is the “good news” of God’s mercy and love revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. It is this Gospel or good news that the Apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the entire world (Glossary).
More basically, the Gospel is the story of Who Jesus is, why He came, and what He did.
Why is the Gospel so powerful? Think about your favorite movie or book for a minute. Why do you like it so much? A good story is able to draw us into a situation, capture our imagination, invoke our emotions, and inspire us to be better.
And if our stories can do that, what about God’s story?
Jesus, who is God and was perfectly happy in Heaven, became a man, did battle with the evil one, someone whom we’re powerless against, and saved us from not only certain death, but from certain eternal death.
The way He saved us was extraordinary. Jesus didn’t show up and kick butt like we see in the movies. He saved us by laying down His life for us. He lived among us, healed, taught, and at the end of His ministry, He went into the heart of darkness – into sin & death themselves and destroyed their power over us. Jesus’ sacrifice of love was so pleasing to God the Father, that it made up for all of the sins that mankind would ever commit.
If Jesus never came, our situation would be far different. Our lives would be all about death, despair and being slaves of the devil. We would be living in a nightmare from which we could not escape.
The most important skill for the evangelist is the ability to proclaim this Good News because the road to salvation doesn’t start by telling people what they must do. It starts by telling people what God has done for them in the person of Jesus. When someone hears about what Jesus has done for them, they should be overwhelmed with gratitude and want to love God back, and follow Him.
Pope Benedict XVI says that the Gospel is not only informative, it’s performative (Spe Salvi, 2). Something happens when the Gospel is proclaimed. Something supernatural. It’s like the Holy Spirit swoops down out of the sky when the Gospel message is proclaimed, and stirs the heart of the person hearing it.
Remember that. Every proclamation of the Gospel is a supernatural event. They’re not just words, or a transfer of information. It’s an event in which the power of the kingdom of God is unleashed into the world.
The bottom line is that we can save souls by sharing the Gospel with folks.
You might be thinking, “Wait a second, isn’t salvation brought about by God alone?” Yes. God alone saves, and He dignifies His children by allowing us to be instruments in His mission of saving souls. That’s why St. Paul is able to say, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23).
1 Corinthians 9:22-23
If St. Paul can say it, then we can too.
So what exactly is the Gospel message? What do people need to hear? There are five essential elements to the Gospel, and they are:
- God’s Original Plan for us
- The Bad News of Sin
- What Jesus did to Save Us
- How We Should Respond
- Jesus Didn’t Leave Us Orphans
Here’s an example of the Gospel:
God created you. He loves you. He wants to be in a relationship with you starting now and continuing on into heaven.
The bad news is that the devil, who rebelled against God, prompted our first parents to do the same. This original sin separated us from God, put us on the road to hell, and wounded our nature. Now we have a darkened understanding of reality, our wills are weak, and we’re attracted to sin. We’re selfish, prideful, greedy, lustful, we gossip, we’re quick to judge and slow to forgive.
The good news is that God loves us too much to leave us like that, so God’s Son, Jesus, became man, died on the cross for our sins, and rose from the dead for our salvation.
We receive the gift of salvation and the Holy Spirit when we put our faith in Jesus, repent of our sins, and get baptized.
Jesus established the Catholic Church to teach us what we need to know, and to give us the grace we need to make it to heaven.
Let’s go proclaim the Gospel and save some souls!