What is the gospel? Before we answer this question, we need to start with the most important person in existence. No, that is not you or me. We need to start with God. To understand the gospel, we need to understand who God is. As the one who created the earth (Gen 1:1), God is the basis and determiner of what is true and what is real in the world. All of reality is based on the nature and character of the God of the Bible, who created and designed the world around us. As creator, God claims and holds authority over the entire created universe and over everyone who lives in this world. He is the one who decides what is right and wrong. Like Psalms 24:1-2 says, because God created the world, he owns it and everyone in it. How does that apply to you and I? What makes that relevant to our lives? Well, it means that because God created the world, he owns the world and everyone in it, and because he is the ultimate standard of reality and morality, we are obligated to do what he commands us to. It also informs us about what our relationship with God is supposed to be like.
When God created the first humans, they had a perfect relationship with him. They were able to openly communicate with God, even able to walk with Him in close relationship. That is what we are meant for also, to have a close relationship with God, to know and worship Him for who he is, to bring glory to him. But sin broke that perfect relationship. When the first man and woman disobeyed the single prohibition that God had given them, they rebelled against God. They asserted their own will over His, and by disobeying God, they placed themselves and the rest of humanity under the curse of sin. What is sin? Sin is breaking the commandments of God, failing to meet his holy standard, refusing to submit to his will. Sin is rebellion against God, and it has drastic and eternal consequences for you and me.
The problem we have now is that sin separates us from God. God is holy. That means that he is perfect and free from sin. He is completely separate from sin and cannot tolerate it. Throughout the Old Testament, God declares Himself to be holy, and demands holiness from his people (Leviticus 19:2). Because God is holy and just he cannot permit sin to exist unchecked. Sin must be punished, and since the first sin, this punishment has been death (Genesis 2:16-17). The consequences for sinning against God are physical and spiritual death. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages for sin is death. The only thing we earn by sinning is death. This doesn’t just mean that we die and then are annihilated. The Bible is clear that when sinners die they suffer eternal judgment from God in hell, separated from him for eternity (Revelation 20:14-15). This is the only punishment that can satisfy the wrath that God has toward sinners. Not because they are ultimate evil, but because God is infinitely perfect.
You might be thinking, “I am not that bad, I don’t deserve to go to hell. I have never killed anyone; I’m definitely not as bad as Hitler or other evil people throughout history.” But comparing ourselves to others does not make us holy. Comparing ourselves to others does not remove the stain and guilt of our sin against God. Romans 3:23 says that everyone has sinned and falls short of God’s holy standard. Jesus said that someone who hates is the same as a murderer, someone who lusts after a woman is the same as an adulterer (Matthew 5:21-28). The Bible makes it clear that by breaking just one of the commands of God, we are guilty of them all (James 2:10), not because we have broken them all, but because God is infinitely holy and good. That is what makes sin so bad, so sinful. Not who you are per se, but who God is. God is the measure of good and evil. By sinning against God who is infinitely good, righteous, and holy, we commit sin that is worthy of infinite punishment. Not only are we not supposed to sin, but we are supposed to be perfect like God. Matthew 5:48 says that we have to be perfect like God is perfect. But nobody is perfect, I’m not and you are not. So what can you do? How can you escape the wrath of God and be restored to a perfect relationship with Him?
The answer is in a person, the God-Man Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that the only person who could fully satisfy God’s wrath against sin and provide a payment for the wages of our sins was Jesus Christ. Jesus is the son of God who was sent by God to take on the form of a man, to become a man and to die in our place in punishment for our sins. God in mercy toward sinful humanity chose to send his holy and perfect Son to serve as the ultimate and perfect sacrifice for sin. The Bible makes it clear that without the shedding of blood, sin cannot be forgiven. Death is the consequence for sin. But animal sacrifices of the Old Testament could not satisfy God’s wrath, and no man on earth is good enough to meet God’s holy standard. Therefore, in His mercy, God sent His only son in the form of a baby, to enter the world and restore sinful people to Himself through the death of His son. John 1 clearly states that Jesus is God and that he came to earth as a man to restore us to God. No good deeds, morality, or any other sacrifice can make up for our sins. Only a perfect sacrifice like Jesus could pay for our sins. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that God made Jesus to be sin and to bear the punishment for that sin on our behalf.
Jesus was sinless and perfect. He had never sinned against another person, never been arrogant, never hated anyone, and never sinned against God. He did not deserve to die because he had never sinned. However, only Jesus could pay for our sins because he was perfect. When he died on the cross 2,000 years ago, he became sin for us and paid the penalty for your sins and my sins. Romans 5:8 tells us that God loved sinful people that hated Him, so much, that he sent his son, Jesus Christ to die for us. But he did not stay dead, all four of the gospels are clear that Jesus was resurrected from the dead 3 days after he died and was buried. 1 Corinthians 15:3–4 clearly states that Jesus rose from the dead after being in the grave for three days. Why is this significant? Because by rising from the dead, Jesus demonstrated that he had power over death and could give eternal life to those he came to save.
This is the good news, that you can know that one day when you die, you can have peace with God and know and enjoy him forever. Jesus is this good news. He is the only way to God. He said in John 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me." Jesus offers himself as the way to God. He makes it clear in his word, that if you want to be forgiven for your sins, escape God's judgment, and have eternal life with Him in heaven, He is the only way to receive such grace. Because he is lord over death, and because in him alone can you find forgiveness of sins and eternal life, Jesus is the only answer for sinners like you and me.
So what must you do to be saved from your sin? In and of yourself, you can do nothing. You must turn from your sin and trust what Jesus did on the cross. Turn from your sin? The Bible makes it clear that you must repent from your sins and become Jesus’ disciple, believing and trusting in only Him for salvation. To repent means to turn away from your sin and forsake it. It means admitting your sin to God, confessing your sin to God, and turning away from your sin toward God. I John 1:9 promises that if we confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us. It is important to remember that this forgiveness and cleansing is not based on our good works, or on anything we can do to earn it; it comes only because of God’s grace and mercy and is only earned by the righteousness of Jesus. So you have to repent from your sin. You have to be willing to forsake your old way of living, to forsake your past rebellion against God and His commands. This is not something to be taken lightly. Jesus makes it clear throughout the gospels that people should count the cost before they decide to repent and follow him. But it is worth the cost!
You must repent if you want any hope of salvation in Christ! That being said, repentance is not alone, it includes placing your faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 3:25 tells us that the payment Christ made for our sins on the cross is to be received with faith. Faith means that we stop trusting in ourselves and instead trust and depend on Jesus and the work he accomplished for us through his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. Faith means that we depend on Jesus alone, that we believe in him (Romans 10:9–10; Ephesians 2:8-9) and follow him as lord. By repenting from your sin and believing in Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection, you can be saved from your sin and its consequences. Count the cost! Take time to consider the great weight of your sin and guilt before God. Consider that even now as we speak God is storing up his wrath against you, and that now is the time to seek after him. Now is the time to turn from your sin, place faith in Jesus Christ. Now is the day for salvation!
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