This question corresponds with the third question of the Catechism, where it is asked: Whence knowest thou thy misery? Out of the law of God. So it is here asked: Whence knowest thou thy deliverance? Out of the gospel. Having, therefore, spoken of the Mediator, we must now speak of the doctrine which reveals, describes, and offers him unto us--which doctrine is the Gospel. After having spoken of the gospel, we must in the next place, speak of the way in which we are made partakers of the Mediator, and his benefits--which is by faith. First, then, we must speak of the gospel, which is, with great propriety, made to follow the doctrine of the Mediator, and the covenant,
1. Because the Mediator is the subject of the gospel, which teaches who and what kind of a Mediator he is.
2. Because he is the author of the gospel. It is a part of the office of the Mediator to reveal the gospel, as it is said: "The only begotten which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." (John 1:18.)
3. Because the gospel is a part of the covenant; and is often taken for the new covenant.

The principal questions to be discussed, in relation to the gospel, are the following:
I. What is the gospel?
II. Is it a new doctrine?
III. In what does it differ from the law?
IV. What are its effects?
V. From what does it appear that the gospel is true?


The term gospel signifies, 1. A joyful message, or good news. 2. The sacrifice which is offered to God for this good news. 3. The reward which is given to him who announces these joyful tidings. Here it signifies the doctrine, or joyful news of Christ manifested in the flesh; as "behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, for unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:10, 11.)

The words are of a somewhat different signification. The former denotes the promise of a mediator that was to come; the latter is the announcement of a mediator already come. This distinction, however, is not always observed; and is rather in the words than in the thing itself; for both denote the same benefits of the Messiah, so that the distinction is only in the circumstance of time, and in the manner of his appearance, as is evident from the following declarations of Scripture: "Abraham saw my day, and was glad." "No man cometh to the Father but by me." "I am the door, by me if any," &c. "God hath appointed him head over all things to the church." "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever." (John 8:56; 14:6; 10:7. Eph. 1:22. Heb. 13:8.)

The gospel is, therefore, the doctrine which the Son of God, our Mediator, revealed from heaven in Paradise, immediately after the fall, and which he brought from the bosom of the Eternal Father; which promises, and announces, in view of the free grace and mercy of God, to all those that repent and believe, deliverance from sin, death, condemnation, and the wrath of God; which is the same thing as to say that it promises and proclaims the remission of sin, salvation, and eternal life, by and for the sake of the Son of God, the Mediator; and is that through which the Holy Spirit works effectually in the hearts of the faithful, kindling and exciting in them, faith, repentance, and the beginning of eternal life. Or, we may, in accordance with the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth questions of the Catechism, define the gospel to be the doctrine which God revealed first in Paradise, and afterwards published by the Patriarchs and Prophets, which he was pleased to represent by the shadows of sacrifices, and the other ceremonies of the law, and which he has accomplished by his only begotten Son; teaching that the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; which is to say that he is a perfect Mediator, satisfying for the sins of the human race, restoring righteousness and eternal life to all those who by a true faith are ingrafted into him, and embrace his benefits.

The following passages of Scripture confirm this definition which we have given of the gospel: "This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day." "And that repentance and remission of sin should be preached in his name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 6:41. Luke 24:47. John 1:17.)