The Gospel in a Nutshell

“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39).

On their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas were invited to speak in one of the synagogues they visited. Paul proceeded to give a biblical outline of God’s plan of salvation, which he summed up in the two verses above. In so doing, he gave us the gospel (i.e., the good news) in a nutshell so to speak.

He starts with this broad summary statement: “Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.” Jesus is the means by which a person can be justified before God. Then he summarized how it works: “Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.”

Paul makes two very important points here. First, being set free from the penalty of sin is accomplished through believing that Jesus is the Christ and it’s through faith in Him that those who believe are saved. Paul also asserts that justification (i.e., release from the penalty of sin) is not accomplished by obeying the law (i.e., by doing good works or through your own righteousness).

That’s hugely important because so many people believe they can find acceptance with God (i.e., justification) if they are just good enough. How often do you hear someone say, “I try to be a good person.” But we can’t be good enough to be justified. We’re all sinners. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way.” (Isaiah 53:6)

The heart of Paul’s message is that God, in His mercy and love sent Jesus, His Son, to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24).

That’s the gospel in a nutshell.

Are you relying on goodness or God’s grace for your justification?


Having begun as a guest speaker in 2005, Dan was appointed Interim Pastor in 2008 and has been serving Maple Root Baptist ever since. As a small group leader and Chaplin for the Connecticut Tigers, Dan has a heart for the lost and the God that saves them.

Dan Kinnaman

Pastor, Maple Root Baptist Church