What is the Gospel?

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16

I like to watch BBC’s Planet Earth with my kids. And every time I watch the opening sequence I weep and worship. The wide-angle shots of the Earth from space and the slow-motion footage of whales leaping over the waves just move me to tears. The God who created all of this is holy and perfect!

And the world He has created is magnificent. And to think that He called us– mankind– His greatest creation of all. Over all the vast oceans with ancient wonders hidden in their deep recesses, over the burning awesomeness of volcanoes, over the intricate beauty of tropical birds and over the shocking intelligence of dolphins and primates. Over all these things, God made mankind to display His glory as His image bearers.

But we don’t act very God-like, do we? The History Channel has a DVD series that also makes me weep– The World at War. How is it that we have been reduced to this? We invent ridiculous claims of superiority over one another to justify war and genocide– taking the lives of other people who are also made in God’s image.

What have we done?

The Bible says that the root of our problem isn’t political, sociological or biochemical. Our problem is called sin, and it started with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, all of humanity fell with them and we’ve all been born into sin. The Bible says the penalty for our sin is death.

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— “ Romans 5:12

What did God do?

It’s a wonder that God didn’t annihilate the human race when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. But instead, God promised a Savior. This Savior is Jesus Christ– who is both fully God and fully man.

Jesus kept God’s law perfectly– He never sinned. For example, Jesus affirmed that God’s law can be summarized in this command,

“And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ 26He said to him, ‘What is written in the Law? How do you read it?’ 27And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’ 28And he said to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.’” Luke 10:25-28

Jesus kept this law perfectly. But He knew that none of us could do this– love God with our everything and love our neighbor with the same devotion and energy with which we love ourselves. So Jesus kept the law for us on our behalf.

Jesus loved His Father perfectly– with all of His heart, soul, strength and mind. He also demonstrated perfect love for His neighbors. It was His love for God and His love for humanity that led Him to the cross where He was crucified.

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

As Jesus hung dying on the cross, God laid all of our sins upon Him and poured out His wrath on His Son. Jesus died in our place as our substitute.

But He didn’t stay dead. He was laid in a borrowed tomb and three days later, He rose from the dead. Jesus is victorious over sin and death!

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Romans 5:9-10

What should we do now?

Jesus is alive, and He’s coming back. We urge you to repent of your sin and believe in Him. Trust in Jesus by faith and you will be clothed in His righteousness.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20-21

Becoming reconciled to God is something only Jesus can do for you. There’s no number of good works you can do to cancel out your sin.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—” Ephesians 2:4-5

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:14-15

All of this is very good news. God is holy, we are sinful, Jesus is our Savior, and we must repent and believe on Him. When we repent of our sins and trust in Christ then our relationship to God changes. We change from being enemies of God to friends of God.

The Bible says that those who believe in Christ will have an eternity to enjoy His presence and a lifetime here (however long) to praise His glorious grace.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Ephesians 1:3-10

If we repent of our sins and trust in Jesus we can be redeemed, forgiven and restored to fellowship with God. If you’ve never done this, would you do it today? And if you are a fellow Christian, rejoice! God, in Christ, has restored you to Himself according to the purpose of His will– so let’s praise His glorious grace.