The Gospel: Explained
Friday, February 16th, 2018 Faith Pillars, General, Identity in Christ, Purpose
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The Gospel is Both Salty + Sweet.
Yet, an overwhelming amount of us who profess to be Christian only want to eat the candy. I heard a pastor preach on this once, saying that the Gospel is filled with sweet stuff, but what happens when we eat candy all the time? I don’t know about you, but I get a tummy ache! We all know that we need to eat our veggies in order to stay balanced and healthy.
Not only that, but there are also many professing Christians who don’t actually believe that the bible is the authoritative Word of God…I know that because, I was one. I’m raising my hand up in solidarity with all of those people who have been taught that Christ is just one way, but not The Way. I used to think that Christians who preached on the bible were ignorant, judgmental and totally incorrect…I’d say with a whole ton of pride + self-righteousness, “the God that I believe in wouldn’t send anyone to hell.”
But here’s the thing, if we’re going to take some of it, then we have to take all of it. It’s either all true or it’s all false. If it is all true (which I would bet my LIFE on), then m’dear…this is the most important decision that you will EVER make. This is the only decision that actually matters. It determines where you will spend eternity – either with Him in Heaven or an eternity of torture and sadness in hell. Yes, that should be a sobering thought. But … there is hope. There is so much hope.
Well…it just so happens that Jesus was after my heart for years. I look back and see how many times He pursued me before He knew He had to lead me away from everything I knew. Seriously, He moved me to a whole new city! He took me away from everything that I thought I knew about Him so He could finally introduce Himself to me through His Word. Not who I think He should be, but who He says He is. Just like Jesus’ disciple, Paul, I used to persecute (judge) Christians (even though I said I was one) who taught that there was only one way to God. I thought they sounded like the worst people. I thought they were judgmental and mean and pretty much the reason why the world was hurting. I was taught by a theology professor that if a religion was exclusive, it was false…little did both of us know that Christianity is not exclusive, it is a choice. Jesus came for all of us, we all have the chance to choose Him. I didn’t believe in Hell, I didn’t believe in judgement day, I didn’t believe in anything that I didn’t like…why? Because I didn’t like it. I didn’t like the idea of so many good, loving people going to hell for eternity only because they didn’t accept Jesus…how could God send “good” people to hell? It made me cringe and I didn’t want any part of it.
I stuck to that belief for the first 28 years of my life, until He kicked down the walls + broke the lies that were keeping me from Him. I let Him explain Himself. I let Him tell the real story. And that’s the story of the Gospel. The story that I thank Him for everyday. The story that broke my chains. The story that set me free. The story that is ALIVE and moving, kicking down walls, tearing down lies, and climbing up mountains to pursue us and call us His own. The story that SAVES. The only story that matters. I’d love to share it with you today.
The Gospel Explained
Did you know that the word “gospel” actually derives from the Greek word “euggelion,” which means “good news?” The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ came into this world and died on a cross so that we may have eternal life. Many people pass off the gospel as religion or take offense to it because they haven’t ever heard the full story. And without the full story, we only get a partial picture, without the full story, we don’t know why we need Jesus.
The full story is that those who do not receive forgiveness for their sins will be condemned to eternity in hell. That’s the bad news. But when it’s understood in light of the full story – then the gospel becomes good news – the best news – instead of offensive or nonsense. Let’s dig in!
It’s Not About You, It’s About Him
In case you’ve ever wondered if God exists, just take a look around. When you look at creation, it’s an indication of a Creator. Just like a potter creates a pot, a Creator creates creation. Say THAT 10 times! 😂
The Bible teaches us that God, our Creator, has always existed, He made the world and everything in it (Genesis 1:1). He gave life to all mankind. Because God is a creative being, it pleased Him to make humanity and to allow us to be living masterpieces that display His glory (Isaiah 43:7, Romans 11:36). Not only that, but God delights in relationships, so He created us so that we may know Him and enjoy Him (Acts 16:26-27).
One of the ways that God revealed His character to humanity was through His law. Most of us know the story of Adam and Eve. God’s first law was given to Adam, God told Him to eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden, except for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:16-17). Eve was persuaded by a serpent (the enemy) to eat this fruit, and then she turned and persuaded Adam to disobey God’s command as well. This act of disobedience is what brought sin into the world, sin is anything that falls short of the standard of God’s law. By disobeying God’s law, Adam and Eve were basically saying that they rejected God.
Because of God’s nature, He couldn’t allow Adam and Eve to remain in His presence, so because of sin, man’s relationship with God was broken and death entered into the world (Romans 5:12).
Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, every human that’s born into this world is born with a sinful nature. That means that all of us have a natural inclination to break God’s law and even to complete reject God (1 John 3:4). Just check out the 10 commandments when you have time, it’s most likely that you’ve broken some of them, I know I have!
One thing I can tell you for sure is that God’s standard of holiness is impossible for us to achieve. No one can call him or herself a “good person.” Even though we do that all the time. We say who is good and who is bad based on our own judgement. But without a yard stick that tells us how long a yard is, how would we know what the true length is? Just like that, without a gauge on what is good and what is bad, how can we ever know the full truth? The world bases good and bad on whatever it feels, but God has given us His law so that we can take the guess work out of the whole thing, and know for sure what is good and what isn’t. Much easier, right?
Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” So, we can forget about comparing ourselves with others, we can forget about thinking that we’ve been pretty good this year compared to others, because God’s law is the standard. Sin is something that we do on a daily basis. It is impossible to be without sin. And the worst part is this: the wage for sin is death (Romans 6:23).
In other words, everyone who sins will die. This is because all sin is an offense to God (Psalm 51:4). After we die, all of us will go before God and give an account of all that we have done, both good or bad. A lot of us want to believe that God is all loving, which He sure is! But, He’s also a good judge. He cannot go against His own nature by letting sin go. He can’t sweep it under the rug. God’s nature demands that sinners must be punished. Hell is a place where the sinful are “tormented day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:10).
In order to be in God’s presence, we need holiness. If all of us have sinned, which we have, then how can any of us see God? How can any of us enter into heaven after this short life on earth?
The Good News – Jesus!
Although we didn’t deserve a second chance, God in all of His love and mercy decided to provide a way to forgive us for our sins. Since the punishment for sin is death, in order for God to remain just and offer forgiveness for our sins, a sacrifice had to be made on our behalf (have you seen The Chronicles of Narnia? That will give you a great visual). Hebrews 9:22 says, “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” This is where Jesus entered the story.
Jesus is both fully divine and fully human. He was born to a virgin, He lived a perfect life, without sin, and allowed Himself to be nailed to the cross for us, for our sins. For you, for me.
He was buried in a tomb and 3 days later, He resurrected from the dead! Jesus’ resurrection was proof that He was God and that His sacrifice was acceptable to God!
Why Did Jesus Have To Die?
Through His grace and mercy, God made a plan to bail us out of our desperate situation (hell) by planning to send us His one and only son, Jesus. Since sin cannot be forgiven without death (Hebrews 9:22), Jesus had to die in order to pay the price for us to enter into heaven.
In the Old Testament, you’ll see there were a lot of animal sacrifices. God had His people, the Israelites, sacrifice animals to temporarily have their sins forgiven. God wanted to replace that sacrificial system with the ultimate sacrifice: Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:3-7). Jesus had to die so that our sins could permanently be pardoned. He took it all on the cross, He took all of the wrath that our sins deserved on Himself, and now? We are no longer slaves to sacrificing animals. He paid the price, and we are free.
How Can I Be Saved?
We are saved when we acknowledge the fact that we are sinners and that we need Jesus in order to cover our sins. All you need to do is ask for His forgiveness by repenting of your sins, and put your trust in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. It is not by your own good works that you are able to receive eternal life. In other words, being a “good” person is not enough. There are so many people who by the world’s standards are good, maybe even loved by all, but God will condemn them to hell. Because it’s not about us, it’s about Him.
His judgment is not only based on our outward actions, but very much on our innermost thoughts and attitudes of our hearts. It is by grace and through faith alone that we can satisfy the Lord’s requirements. God resists the proud but shows grace to the humble.
When you accept the FULL story of the gospel, yep, even the hard part that God is Holy and we are sinful, then we can appreciate how absolutely INCREDIBLE and amazing the good news of the gospel really is!!
Following Christ is not about being religious or checking off a to-do list. Becoming a Christian, or a Christ-follower, is not just about going to Heaven after this life. It’s about following Him while we’re here on this planet. When you become a Christian, God places His Holy Spirit within you, He gives you a whole new heart which causes you to fall in love with Him and to obey Him (Ezekiel 36:26; Ephesians 1:13).
Bit by bit, He restores you back to your original purpose that you were created for! After all, the Creator knows His creation best, so He’s the ultimate fixer. As you grow more and more in love with Jesus, you no longer will love your sin. Instead of the old sin-filled life, you’ll desire to please God. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never sin again, but you’ll have the desire to live for Him and be very aware of your sinful tendencies.
If anyone tells you that being a Christian is the way to the “good life,” then they aren’t telling the truth. Following Jesus does not mean that you’ll have a pain-free life. He makes that very clear in John 16:33 when we are told that we’ll have many trials and sorrows here on earth, but we can take heart knowing that He has already overcome the world. Through any suffering or persecution, we have unwavering HOPE because of Jesus. He has already conquered death. He has won the war, and as Christians we can live in that authority!
If you’ve just decided to follow Christ or if you’re not quite sure, begin to read God’s Word and pray. Find yourself a Christ-centered church that is based on the Word of God. Begin to meet regularly with other believers who are more mature in their faith so you can receive encouragement and sound teaching. IN addition, you’ll find a place to serve!
Still not convinced that this story is true? Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “whoever draws close to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” Pray and ask God to reveal Himself to you, ask Him to show you that He is real, ask Him to help you trust Him. In your own words, talk to God. Tell Him that you now realize that you are a sinner, and that you want Him to forgive your sins, give you His Spirit so that your desires will change and you’ll be able to please Him. Ask God to convict you of what Jesus did on the cross and what it means for your life. Then ask Him for Salvation, end your prayer “in Jesus’ name.” Because the name of Jesus is powerful!
If you’ve just accepted Jesus for the first time, I’d love to support you! Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
There’s a reason that you’ve been reading this, He’s pursuing you and calling you to Himself!