The The Gospel of Jesus Christ
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
The word “gospel” is mentioned over 100 times in the Bible by Jesus and His disciples. Jesus was the source and the subject of this good news. Jesus personally shared the gospel with those who listened to Him and today He is sharing it through the Bible and those who know and follow Him. He wants everyone to believe this gospel. But why is the gospel needed and how do people come to understand clearly what it means to become a follower of Christ and believe this gospel message?
The problem is that all people are born sinners and sin separates them from God “Your [sins] have separated you from your God’ (Isaiah 59:2). It all started in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were given clear instructions by God. They were free to eat of any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told them, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
So what is the big deal? This is a very serious matter. The God of the Bible clearly states that He cannot tolerate the least amount of sin in His presence. Psalm 5:4 says, “You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You.”
Also Adam’s choice affected the entire human race. Because of Adam’s rebellion, all people are born sinners (Psalm 51:5) and since then everyone willingly chooses to sin. The Apostle Paul explained. “Just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12), “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Everyone is a sinner and this sin separates each person from a holy God (Isaiah 6:3). So, what is the solution: how can sinful humans ever hope to inhabit a holy heaven with a holy God?
Throughout human history people have attempted to solve this problem on their own. Religions have been developed which require people to do good works in order to earn eternal happiness and rewards. This “solution” is really an issue of pride. Salvation is all about God and His grace. Salvation is “the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:9)
Salvation cannot be earned through good works. So what is the real solution? The solution comes from God Himself. God knew that humans could not achieve heaven by good works. That is why Jesus Christ, the Son of God came to die for our sins (John 3:16; II Peter 3:9). The Apostle Peter explained, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the
unjust, that He might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18). Even though this sin had separated people from God, Jesus willingly “bore our sin in His own body on the cross that He might bring us to God” (2 Peter 2:24). God loved us and “demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice so that mankind could receive forgiveness of sins and have eternal life in heaven. What a deal! Jesus paid the sin debt that we could not pay so that we could receive His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God does not force anyone to accept His Son, Jesus Christ. It is a free choice, a gift that He offers to everyone. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). So what is the choice we need to make to receive forgiveness of sins and life eternal in heaven? Again, the Bible is clear. A person must repent of their sins and must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
The word “repent” means to change one’s mind. A person first needs to change his or her mind about God. Many concepts exist about God in our world today, but to make an informed choice we must have a biblical understanding of God and Christ. Jesus did not say He was a way to God; He said He was the only way to God. Jesus excludes all other “ways” when He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The disciples said the same exact thing, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way to God.
A person also needs to change his or her mind about sin. It is not about trying to be good person and living life the way she or he wants to live it. Rather, it is making a conscious choice to become a follower of Christ and His Word. Jesus said “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
The word “believe” means “to trust or have faith in.” It also has the idea of being persuaded. Biblical faith is not a “blind leap”. It is based upon the Bible, reason and evidence. “Faith is the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead unless he was able to put his fingers into Jesus’ nail pierced hands and side. Jesus did not rebuke him for a lack of faith. He let him feel the nail prints and what was Thomas’ response; “Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an essential fact of history and the gospel message. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then Christianity is just another man-made religion. The apostle Paul understood this when he said, “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (I Corinthians 15:17).
What must a person believe in order to become a follower of Christ? First, that Jesus is who He said He was. “If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Here, Jesus placed our eternal well-being entirely on the issue of getting what we believe about Him correct. One must also believe that He died on the cross for his or her sins; that He was buried; and that He was raised from the dead (I Corinthians 15:1-4). The Apostle Paul spelled it out when he said that “if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). It is a personal choice. Hopefully, it is your choice.
If after reading this gospel message you understand what it means to be a follower of Christ and you would like to receive Him as your Savior you can do that today. “Whoever will call on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Your personal relationship with God can begin right now through praying a prayer from the heart. You could pray a simple prayer like this:
Heavenly Father, I know that You are holy and hate sin. I know that I am a sinner and I can’t get to heaven by my own works. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, was buried, and that He rose again. I repent of my sins and believe that Jesus alone can save me. I want to be a follower of Jesus and His Word. Come into my life and save my soul. Thank you for saving me! In Jesus’ name, Amen.