The central message of the Christian faith is the gospel. The gospel message is not a magic chant. It is the message of the actual, real, and final work of Jesus Christ. It is a factual telling of a real story that took place two-thousand years ago. It is the message which tells wicked humanity how God has saved them from His own wrath. Read closely.
The gospel starts with God. It is important to start here. We must distinguish the true God from the millions of false gods man has invented. The God of Christianity is the true living and eternal God (Jeremiah 10:10). He is preeminent. He has always been and will always be. He was never created, nor will He ever perish. He is holy, righteous, and just. He is all knowing, all powerful, and all good. He is unchanging. He is everywhere in the universe; yet, completely outside of it and separate from it. If the universe ceased to exist, He would still remain. Not only is He eternal, but He is triune as well. The God of the Bible is one God revealed in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All co-eternal and co-existent, one in essence and being. However, different in role.
This God, the only God, desiring to display his glory, created the universe and man in His image as the greatest reflector of His glory (Genesis 1:27). Most know the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, created by God for God, and, created good. God, in His wisdom and ultimate plan for glory, gave Adam and Eve one commandment, “You shall not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, lest you die.” A command, though given to an uncorrupted man and women, created in them a desire for sin (Romans 7:7-11). When they ate of the tree, mankind fell. This fall ushered in the curse for all of human life to follow. Man, starting with an ability to do good and refrain from evil, now lives in perpetual evil and sin. We can refer to this as the sinful nature of man, and every human being is poisoned with its death.
The fallen nature of man produces sin. Notably, sin is disobedience against God. However, it goes much deeper than mere disobedience. Sin is desiring anything more than God. Sin is treasuring anything over God. It is seeking ourselves before God. It is making worldly things the idols of our heart. Sin affects our mind, our emotions, and our will. Sin is all we desire and crave. It is a poison, a venom. Sin is lawlessness. And, sin has a punishment.
The Bible is extremely clear - the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Therefore, death is our natural punishment for sin. All humanity is guilty before God, because all humanity has sinned against God (Romans 3:23). We are morally accountable for our rebellion and justly deserving of death. What is death? It is not just physical death, no, it is a spiritual death. A spiritual death caused by the wrath of God which has been poured out on us for the punishment of sin. God’s wrath is so serious, and so unrelenting, that it results in an eternity of torment (Revelation 20:14-15). So what does this mean?
Rightly, it means that every human being who has ever lived deserves to spend an eternity in Hell for their sin. There is a phrase for this bad news - the great dilemma. How can man escape the wrath of a holy, righteous God and be reconciled to Him? How can man receive eternal life? Without a doubt, these are the biggest questions anyone can ever ask. Before we go any further, it is important to note the two factors that make up this dilemma. First, man is guilty and infinitely indebted to a holy God. Second, man needs righteousness to inherit eternal life. Who will pay this debt? And, from whom will man receive righteousness?
As you may know, the gospel is good news. Good news cannot be good news unless bad news precedes it. This is the good news. Jesus Christ, the second person of the triune God, came down to earth from His eternal glory in heaven and took on human flesh. He became truly man while staying truly God. The God-man, Jesus, lived the sinless and perfect life that we could not, honoring and obeying his Father in heaven without error. His record was spotless (1 Peter 2:22). He lived thirty-three years on this wicked earth without failing emotionally, intellectually, or behaviorally. Everything he thought, said, and did met the righteous requirement of the law (Matthew 5:17).
He then, by his own choice, went to the cross to die the death we all deserved to die. Remember, the wages of sin is death. When he did this he took our sin and put it on his own shoulders (2 Corinthians 5:21). The physical death was only a drop in the bucket, for what was happening spiritually was much greater. The wrath of God the Father was poured out on Jesus as he was hanging on the cross. Our sin was punished on Christ, and he died (Romans 3:25). Do not be so quick to forget, if we were left to pay for our sin it would result in eternal Hell. Christ, being truly God and perfectly righteous, faced the punishment, conquered it, and was raised to life three days later.
The first part of the dilemma has been solved. Our sin was punished on Christ, and his bodily resurrection proved its effectiveness (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). But, what about the righteousness we need? Those who hear this message - that Christ died for their sin - and, respond to Jesus in faith and repentance will receive Christ’s righteousness. Faith is accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior and treasuring Him above all things. Faith causes you to see Him as your God, Master, and Lord resulting in the full surrender of your life to Him. Repentance is seeing your old, wicked, sinful life as something to be hated; and, therefore, turned away from. It shows that you desire to follow Christ in obedience according to the commandments found in the Bible. If faith and repentance are the desires of your heart, Christ will give you his righteousness, assuring you of eternal life.
That is the gospel message. It is a message of grace. Grace being an undeserved gift or unmerited favor (Ephesians 2:8-9). God totally and completely did everything to ensure our salvation. It is a gift that we must simply accept. To audaciously impose any amount of works towards your salvation is to entirely misunderstand the finality of Christ’s work on the cross, and, therefore, misunderstand the gospel. If you think you can work your way to God, or do more good than bad, you are still living in the blindness of your sinful nature. It is my prayer for you, after reading this gospel message, that God instill a faith in your heart resulting in a desire to repent and turn to Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. A faith knowing that you did nothing, and he did everything.