“A road map for how to live your life”
“The books about Jesus”
“The Cross and Jesus dying for our sins”
All of these are responses I’ve received when I’ve asked the question, “what is the Gospel?”
How would you answer that? What is the Gospel?
Image Credit: Harold Lloyd, Creative Commons
I can remember people telling me all of my life that I was a sinner, telling me Jesus died for me, and if I wanted to go to Heaven I needed to believe in Him. And none of that ever made sense to me. First of all, I wasn’t a sinner, I was a good person. Sure I did some “bad stuff,” but a sinner?? That’s a little harsh. Secondly, Jesus died for me? What does that even mean?
All I really knew of Christianity was some of my “Christian” friends telling my very best Jewish friend she was going to Hell because she didn’t believe in Jesus, and I personally didn’t want any part in that. So I sided with my Jewish friend and went to synagogue with her in 7th & 8th grade. That’s right you guys, I was practically Jewish for 2 years.
Then I started going to Christian church with my high school boyfriend’s family, and I think became a Christian then? I don’t really know because once I was introduced to cigarettes and booze, I left all that behind and ran to the party scene. And that was where I lived, a little bit Jewish, a little bit Christian, believed in God, was a good person (during the week), and sort of knew about Jesus. Until my father passed away suddenly and I realized this little made-up belief, and idea of being a good person and in control of my own life came crashing down in front of me.
Shortly after my father passed away, I was confronted with all of this God stuff once again. I knew deep within my heart I wasn’t in control of my life, my time on Earth, and neither was anyone else. But how can I know God? How can I know there is just one God? And what about Jesus? Why is everyone always telling me about Jesus? And in complete humility and honesty, I looked at my now-husband and asked him about God. I asked him about why people called me a sinner, why people told me about Jesus and asked:
“What does His death have to do with my life?”
I needed to make sense of this life, my life, and Jesus’s life. Because if what people were telling me was true, then His life and death have implication on my life.
So what is the Gospel?
Gospel literally means good news. The good news that Jesus lived the life we couldn’t live, and died the death we should have died.
In one word, the Gospel is . . . Jesus.
God created the world and everything in it (Gen. 1:1).
He set man on the earth, as His prize creation, and gave him a choice (Gen. 2:15-17).
Sin entered the world through the Deceiver, by tempting mankind to choose between trusting God at His word or eating the fruit of disobedience (Gen. 3:1-7).
Sin is simply trying to find satisfaction outside of God. It’s selfishness. It’s choosing our own way over God and His kind of life.
Adam and Eve ate the fruit of disobedience, and we do the same to this very day (Rom. 3:10-18, 23). When we sin, we break relationship with God. Something must be done in order to be brought back into right standing with God (righteousness) and inherit eternal life. A perfect sacrifice, a satisfactory payment, a fulfillment to the Law (Rom. 3:22-24, Matt. 5:17) must be made to inherit eternal life.
Religion and humanistic thinking tells us we can do enough good so that God will be pleased with us.
God tells us there is one way He is pleased with us . . .
Believing in His son (Acts 16:31).
In order to be brought into right relationship with God, a perfect sacrifice, a sufficient payment, must be made for our ransom. Jesus Christ paid for our sins with His perfect life by dying on the Cross.
His death was the satisfactory payment for our sin (1 John 2:1).
But it doesn’t just stop there. His death and His resurrection bring us new life (2 Cor. 5:17). The Gospel is what Jesus did for us on the cross, but it’s also the promise of new life. The Gospel is walking in the power of the Resurrection and living out our new life (Gal. 2:20).
The Gospel is Jesus.
The Gospel is hope.
The Gospel is grace and mercy new every day.
THAT is the Gospel.
Reading & Reflection
1. Read Romans 8. What words or phrases do you see repeated in the first 16 verses?
2. What is the difference between living in the flesh and living in the Spirit?
3. Do you struggle to believe Romans 8:1? Do you truly believe you’ve been forgiven of sin and God sees you as righteous? Spend some time reading the last few verses of chapter 8 and reminding yourself of God’s love.