“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4)
Some of the most important few words of this well known passage are usually left out when people mention the “gospel” using this 1 Corinthians text. People will say “What is important is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus”. And, it is very, very important. But, why did he die?
The answer is “for our sins”. He died “for” us, in our stead. He was our representative in dying and in resurrection. He did it “for” us.
Since Adam demonstrated his unbelief by doing what God had forbidden, mankind has been estranged from God. God is offended by our sins, and his holiness demands that sin be punished. Jesus in his conversation with the Jewish leader Nicodemus said that men are already condemned. Those among us who have not put their trust in Christ are dead men walking. An unbeliever does not need to wait to be condemned, he is already sentenced to death. God’s economy of justice is simple. The soul that sins will die. Physical death awaits and then after the judgement sinners are cast into the lake of fire, the second death.
Now the good news! Jesus died in you place! He took the punishment for your sins so you don’t have to. The offer of the “gospel’ is come and exchange death for eternal life. Christ has born your sin and wants to give you his righteousness. This is atonement. By willingly offering himself as a sacrificial lamb Jesus gave God what he always wanted but never had. He desired that people do what he said, not sin, and live in beautiful fellowship with him. Jesus did all that we could not do, and, he did it “for” us.
When he died, he died “for” me. When he was raised from the dead, he was raised “for” me. These things he did representing me. When he died, I died and that death satisfied God’s justice and wrath against my sin. I am now freed from the written code (law) that was against me because a dead man is not under any law.
My life is his life, my future is his future, my righteousness is his righteousness, and my inheritance is his inheritance. I can’t die unless he dies and his life is eternal. This is “gospel”, good news!