What is the Gospel?
The believer’s story is one of redemption out of tragedy. There was deep tragedy to be sure…and its effects have been abiding with mankind since Genesis 3. Through one man, Adam, we all died before God because when he fell into disobedience we fell with him. But this man-caused tragedy is not the end of our story.
The Gospel (the “Good News”) is that God’s redemption trumps man’s tragic sin. Just as through one man (Adam) all died in sin, so through one man (Jesus Christ) all can be reborn and live before God. Christ’s entry into the world as God and man, His righteous life, His gruesome crucifixion, and His stunning resurrection position each of us to deal with Him as the unique Savior and Judge of the world. There is really no neutral view of Christ – His life, claims, and suffering demand a response. One either rejects His claims or receives His name. It is in Jesus, God the Son, that we find redemption out of our tragic sin and rebirth into the Kingdom of God.
If you want to consider what the Bible says about this a bit more deeply, consider the following:
It’s a mistake to fashion God in our image – the Bible says, in fact, that it works the other way around! It won’t do, then, to say something to the effect that, “God must be like me…only bigger.’ God is who He is, regardless of what we imagine Him to be. And He has revealed who He is and what He is like in the Bible.
For instance, the Bible tells us that God is our Creator. He made the universe. He made the world. He made us. He is God and He rules over it all. Psalm 24:1-2a says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it…’
The Bible also tells us that God is loving. This is, of course, very important since we’re not very lovable when it comes to the matter of God. And yet John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” It is in the demonstrations of God’s love, especially in giving the Son, that we see His mercy and faithfulness.
Finally, and very importantly, the Bible also informs us that God is holy. In fact, Scripture lays this out as God’s supreme quality. Isaiah 6:3a says, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” Everything God does is permeated completely by His holiness. That means that God will always do the right thing. And that means that God will never ultimately tolerate sin. He cannot because He is holy. God will always pour out His wrath on evil. Though God is loving, he will never let sin and evil ultimately slide because His love can only be a holy love. God will address evil (either in judgment or grace) to satisfy His justice, but He will never overlook it.
The Bible tells us two very important things about ourselves. For one thing, it tells us that we were made in the image of God. It’s from being made in God’s image that we get our sense of right and wrong, even a sense sometimes of the notion of holiness.
But that’s not all. The Bible also tells us that all of humanity (every one of us!) has fallen into sin because we have not honored God, our Creator and the just Ruler of the universe, with our lives (see Romans 3:23). When we think of the word “sin” we’re well-served to think of what it implies about us: evil, corruption, and defiance against as well as estrangement from God – in short, people worthy to be found guilty before Him when we give an account for our lives.
Obviously, this is a big problem. In fact, it’s our ultimate problem (yours too, by the way, according to Scripture) because God is holy and rightfully offended by our sin. So what can you do about it? Well, on your own…nothing. You can’t “un-sin” any more than you can “un-jump” off a cliff, “un-say” a hateful word, or even “un-drink” poison. That’s why the Bible says that in your sin, you are helpless (Romans 5:6). We cannot fix this problem on our own. We need help.
This is where Jesus comes in. Romans 5:6 says that “while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” We need to know some very important things about Jesus. You might ask, “Like what”?
First of all, you need to know who He is. Jesus Christ is God the Son who became a real human being so that He could represent us. Scripture has a lot to say about Jesus. Titus 2:13 refers to Him as “our great God and Savior.” In Hebrews 1:3 we’re told that “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” John 1 refers to Jesus as the “Word” and says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’ Jesus Christ is fully God and yet he became a man (fully human) while maintaining His deity. This is a crucial truth because Adam represented us all in the fall of mankind. Jesus came then to represent those who trust Him in the redemption of mankind.
You also need to know what He did. Christ died for our sins, was buried, and three days later rose from the grave. Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? He did it to bear the wrath of God that our sin earned so that we could be saved (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). To put it another way, He died in our place and took the punishment we deserved so that we could be “justified by his blood” (Romans 5:9).
Finally, you need to be clear on the fact that He is the only way. It was Jesus Himself who said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The good news is that Jesus Christ is God and took on humanity to die for our sins. There is no other name under heaven by which you can be saved, but there is a name Jesus Christ – and that’s a firm testament to God’s grace.
All this brings us to a critical issue: How is a person supposed to respond to this good news? In the Bible the question is put like this, “What must I do to be saved?” The Bible spells out two related things: repentance and belief. This summarized the Apostle Paul’s message, “[I testified] both to Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Acts 20:21). The first words of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark are, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Repentance and belief are really two sides of the same coin. Repentance always involves a change of purpose. It means to turn away from your self-centeredness and sin and turn to God (see 1 Thessalonians 1:9). Notable theologian J. I. Packer has rightfully said, “The repentance that Jesus requires of His people consists in a settled refusal to set any limit to the claims which He may make on their lives.” To believe in Jesus involves more than embracing the facts about what He did, namely, that He died for sinners and rose from death to give people life. It includes your own personal hope. It means trusting Jesus alone for your salvation. This is the only response a person can make to the good news about Jesus because God’s salvation is accomplished solely by His grace to us; it’s a free gift from God that we know through Jesus Christ.
If you feel that God is drawing you to Himself now, turn to Him in repentance and put your trust in Jesus Christ and the work He accomplished on the cross to redeem you and save you. If you would like to connect with one of our pastors, please email, call the office, or complete the contact form below and we will contact you.