The Gospel Of Jesus
God: There are many ways we could describe God: creator, powerful, all-knowing, wise… Often, when we think about God, we think in terms of what, not who. But who is God? The best way to answer that is to allow God to tell you Himself. In the second book of the Bible, God told Moses that he was a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and forgiveness. But God is also righteous and assures Moses he will not leave the guilty unpunished. So how do we sum up God according to God? Simple. He is loving, and he is just. So then, who are we?
Man: The question of meaning, purpose and design for mankind has been debated for ages. The first chapter of the Bible tells us that mankind was created “in the image of God.” That’s a way of saying that man was created to reflect God’s character and represent God’s authority and kingship over His creation. But it doesn’t take long to see that mankind chose another way. The first man and woman chose to be autonomous and rebelled against the kingship of God. The Bible calls this failure to live by God’s design and under his authority “sin.” And the book of Romans shows us that this rebellious disease was not confined to that first man and woman…it has spread to us all. Now, let’s remember who God is: He is loving and he is just. The second part of that statement reveals a problem for us because God will not leave the guilty unpunished. So now we have a problem, but so does God: How can he be a loving God if he merely punishes us for our failure and brokenness? Where’s all the forgiveness and mercy? Good question….
Christ: God has come to us; Jesus, the eternal Son of God, steps into human history. He lived a life similar to most people, but there was one distinct difference. The early witnesses to the person of Jesus Christ affirm that he was without sin. This means that he was the one person to live the way that God designed us to. He perfectly reflected the character of God. He always represented the kingship of God. He was perfect where we were prideful. But Jesus didn’t just live the perfect life…he also died a horrible death. That doesn’t seem fair, but there was a design in it all. Jesus was hung on a cross in a shameful, horrifying execution, but it wasn’t for anything he did wrong. It was for what God was doing right. You see, God had planned that this perfect Son would die willingly for a mass of imperfect ones who were guilty. Do you remember God’s justice, his “not leaving the guilty unpunished?” The Bible is clear that in the crucifixion, Christ was taking the sins of the guilty on his own back. He carried them to the cross to suffer and be punished so that a multitude of sinful people could be forgiven. Three days after dying on the cross, Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God. The resurrection was a sort of stamp of approval that gave credence to Jesus’ claims to be divine…but it also demonstrated his victory over sin and death. I hope you can see how this is all called “good news” throughout the Bible! But how is this good news for you?
Response: In many places, the writers of scripture describe this work of Christ as a gift that is held out to people. But as a gift, we cannot work to earn it; we simply have to receive it. But what does that look like? The Bible has two words to describe the reception of this gift. They function like a two-sided coin. The first side is “repentance.” Contrary to popular belief, this is not simply becoming a better person; it is turning to a better direction. Repentance is literally to change your mind. When we repent, we change our minds about God, ourselves, sin…and our need for Christ’s gift of forgiveness. But the other side of the coin is the logical companion to that: “faith.” Faith is putting our trust in the ability of Christ’s sacrifice to purchase our forgiveness. We now put our confidence not in our ability to be good and earn God’s approval, but in Christ’s goodness and his ability to absorb the punishment of God that we deserve. And if we do turn to Christ this way?
Result: The apostles and early Christians used many images to picture what becomes true in the life of a person who has trusted Christ. They are said to be new creations, adopted sons and daughters of God, restored to friendship with God, and purchased back from a sort of slavery to their own self-focus. They are said to receive forgiveness, peace with God, and eternal life. But eternal life is not just an extended version of this broken, hurtful life. The Bible speaks of a life which is truly life, a living existence in the presence and blessing of God. This eternal life is to know God, enjoy God and honor God as humanity was intended. So the result of Christ’s work received into the hearts of guilty people could be summed up in one word that the Bible uses consistently. Salvation. Those who put their trust in Christ and his sacrifice have been saved from God’s justice, by God’s love, to God’s blessing. Now that’s good news.