THE ESSENSE OF THE GOSPEL
Simply stated, “the gospel”, literally means, “good news”. So when we ask, “What is the gospel?”… We are actually asking, “What is the good news?”
And this is the most joyful news ever announced! Simply stated, the good news is this … God rescues those who have rebelled against Him.
We Have A Problem!
Though God made us to live in relationship with Him, each one of us has rebelled against the Most High God who created us, and each has gone our own way … living apart from him … breaking his laws and commandments. The Bible calls this sin, and tells us that the wage, or what we earn from our sin is death. Our sinful state has caused us to become spiritually dead towards God.
The Good News!
But, God loved us so much that He became a man Himself (Jesus of Nazereth) and paid the penalty for all of our sin by dying on the cross. But, he didn’t just die to purchase the forgiveness of our sin. Three days later, he rose from the dead just as the Scriptures had foretold He would. Now He lives and reigns forever as the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
Now, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, though our sin has caused us to be spiritually dead to God, existing as an objects of His wrath … when we put our trust (our faith) in Christ … believing that He is who He said He is (the Creator God in the Flesh) … and that He can do what He said He can (forgive our sins because He died for us) … then we are given new life in Christ by God and we become alive to Him forever (eternal life).
The Bible tells the good news this way …
“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-7)
“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
“As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.” (Romans 3:10)
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. (John 1:10-13)
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26)
This is the good news … our Creator God became a man (Jesus) and died and rose again for you and for me so that we might be saved from our sin and brought us from a state of spiritual death into new life in Jesus Christ … a life that will glorify God and last forever … eternal life.
A RESPONSE IS REQUIRED
But, it isn’t enough just to know about this good news. This good news demands a response on our part. God freely offers to forgive our sins and to transform us from death to new life as a gift. Though this is the most expensive and priceless gift we will ever be offered (it cost God the life of His Son to make it available to us) … like all gifts it is offered free of charge. There is nothing we need do, or can do to earn it … it’s a free gift … the gift of God. But, like all gifts, it’s not enough to just know about it … that the gift exists. We must all accept this gift and claim it for our own in order to possess it.
The Bible reminds us, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith ... and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ... not by works so that no man can boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)
We receive this gift when we turn to God from trusting in ourselves and our efforts, and instead put our trust (our faith) in Christ. We believe (trust) that He is who He said He is (our Creator God in the flesh) and that He will do what He said He will do (forgive our sins because He died for us).
If today, as you have read this, you sense God calling to you, and you want to receive God’s free gift, be given new life in Christ that will last forever, and begin following Jesus in faith ... you can express that desire to God by calling out to Him (talking with God is what the Bible calls prayer). Begin by thanking God that He loves you and sent Jesus to save you from your sin. Simply express to God that you know that you are guilty of sin against Him. Tell Him that you realize that there is nothing you can do on your own to pay the penalty for your sin. Ask Him to forgive all of your sin based on Christ’s death on the cross for you. Thank Him for giving you new life, making you His child, and adopting you into His forever family. Thank Him that this new life with Him will last for all eternity. Tell Him that you want to follow your living Savior, Jesus. Ask Him to use your life to bring glory to Himself.
HOW CAN I KNOW?
If you put your trust in Christ like that, you can know with certainty that God will hear and answer your prayer. How can you know this? Will an angel come down from Heaven and welcome you to God’s family? Will you know because of some warm feeling you may or may not experience? No, you will know because of your trust in Christ. Jesus said that He would give eternal life to all who trust in Him. Would He lie to you? No, He is God, and God never lies. Everything God promises comes to pass. So, how do you know that God has heard your prayer and saved you from the penalty of your sin and given you eternal life in Christ … you know because you trust in the character of God and you believe His promise to you. Jesus said, "My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." Trust Him. He will not deceive you!
HOW DO I BEGIN TO FOLLOW JESUS IN THIS NEW LIFE?
Now, if you have begun this exciting new life in Christ, over the next few weeks I want you to look for changes in two areas of your life … your attitudes and your actions. As you begin to grow in this new relationship with God … this new life … you will find a new desire in your heart to live a life that pleases God and brings Him glory … not because you have to in order to earn His love, but because you want to because you know you have His love.
One of those new desires in your heart will be to meet regularly with others who are trusting in Christ and following Him as you now are. Look to become part of a church family in your neighborhood this Sunday. If you need help finding a good one, write to me at Jim.Rhodes@cru.org and I will help you find one.
When a person trusts in Christ for forgiveness and new life, here are just a few things the Word of God says happened to you …
· The Holy Spirit of the Resurrected Jesus … the Eternal Life of God Himself … now lives in you … and he will never ever leave you! (Romans 8: 9-11)
· You sins were all forgiven! (Colossians 1:14)
· You became a child of God! (John 1:12)
· You received eternal life! (John 5:24)
· You began the great adventure for which God created you! (2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 2:20)
Can you think of anything more wonderful that could happen to you than being brought back into relationship with God by being given new life in Christ? Thank God often for these wonderful things He has done for you.
Like all of the followers of Jesus that have gone before you, tell others about the great thing God has done for you. Invite others to come and see and meet this Jesus you have come to know and follow.
Please feel free to write to me, or post on this web site and let me know if this has been helpful to you. Please feel free to ask any questions about the gospel or following Jesus that you may have.
May God bless and keep you. May He cause His Face to shine upon you and give you peace!
If you would like to view a fuller telling of the good news … follow this link and view the movie, Magdalena …