What is "the Gospel?"
The word “gospel” simply means “good news.” The good news is a message from God to us that although we heading for death, God has given us the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Here’s how it works:
The Good News starts with Bad News
We don’t have far to look to understand that the world is broken. This is independently verifiable. It is not necessary to go to Auschwitz. The problems are as close as our own failing bodies and our own broken relationships. Many people have suggested ways to change this brokenness, but few understand the cause.
All the problems of the world come down to a broken relationship with God. Genesis 3 describes how the break in fellowship occurred when the first man and woman disobeyed God. Isaiah 59:2 explains that our sins have separated us from God. All of creation groans as a result of this separation that causes death. (Romans 8:22)
The world is so broken that even our righteous acts look like filthy rags to God. (Isaiah 64:6). When it comes to the topic of heaven and hell, we often want to think that we have done more good than bad. Based on this standard, we hope God will let us into heaven. The reality is that all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We cannot get into heaven based on our own merit. We are separated from God. Separation from God is death.
The Good News of the Gospel – A Gift
Although it is impossible for us to make our way to God, God has made a way for us. Although we have earned death by our misdeeds, even though our righteousness falls woefully short of heaven, we can be perfectly righteous before God through Jesus Christ. We can’t earn it, but we can receive it as a gift (Romans 3:23).
He died in our place. When Jesus died on the cross, it was our sins that He carried with Him. No guards, ropes or nails could have held the Son of God on the cross. Jesus willingly died on the cross so He could bear you sins, my sins and the sins of the world on Himself. Because of this selfless act, we don’t need to live as slaves to sin. Broken relationships, addictions, failing bodies, generational sin – none of these need have mastery anymore because Jesus substituted His righteousness for our unrighteousness. When He died, our sin went with Him. It was blotted out. Then God raised Jesus back to His rightful place in glory. (2Corinthians 5:21)
Receiving the Gift
Here is the good news: God’s gracious gift through Jesus is life. He is offering it to us, but we still need to receive it.
In order to receive the gift, we simply agree with God about our sin, confessing it to Him. This doesn’t require a human priest. Jesus is our High Priest. If there are people we have wronged we might need to confess to them. One of Jesus disciples, a man named John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. -1 John 1:9-10
Jesus told people they needed to repent (Matthew 4:17). This means that after confessing our sin, we need to turn away from it. We turn from sin to Jesus, believing that living for Him is better than any other alternative. This is why we are baptized. The imagery is going into the waters of death with Jesus out into new life. We then ask the Holy Spirit to come into our lives guiding us, healing us and showing us areas of sin.
If you would like to receive the gift of life, you can start now in prayer. First, confess your sins to God asking His forgiveness, tell Him you want to live for Jesus, not the way you were living. Ask for the Holy Spirit to live in you and help you to live the life Christ intends for you.
If you have accepted the gift of God, you will want to be baptized and to spend time with other believers in order to better grow in Christ. Look for a church that has a high regard for Scripture, for people who are living their lives according to God’s Word and in the Christian virtues of humility, love, truth, hope and mission.
Here are some Bible passages that may be helpful:
- Isaiah 59:2
- Isaiah 64:6
- John 3
- John 5:24
- Romans 3:23
- Romans 6:23
- 2 Corinthians 5:21
- Ephesians 2:8-9
- Hebrews 9:27
- 1Peter 3:18
- 1 John 1:9
Helpful links for understanding the gospel:
Bridge Illustration: http://www.navigators.org/us/resources/illustrations/items
Bridge Illustration Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQCeXkn0aMU
Two Ways to Live: http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/2wtlonline.html
Two Ways to Live Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgpaOq93rJ4