Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Gospel


     I have long thought about writing a blog entry that presents the Christian gospel.  After writing my post on the prosperity gospel I realized that maybe there are people out there who don't really know what the true Christian gospel is.  In this day and age, so much information about Christianity, Jesus, God, religion, and the like is readily available through the click of a mouse or the flip of a TV remote, that it's hard to discern what's true and what's not sometimes.  This is one of several reasons why I think it's important to establish the true gospel amidst a sea of false gospels.

     So, what is the true gospel?  Well, the answer to this question is both simple and complex.

To start, the gospel is centered around the person of Jesus Christ.  In fact, Paul the apostle defines the gospel in this way:

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures," - I Corinthians 15:3-4 (ESV)

Paul defines the gospel as Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.  Still, it doesn't answer the question of why He had to die or why he had to rise again. 

In simple terms, Christ had to die to pay the debt that we owed God for breaking His law by sinning.   Sin is any act in violation of God's law.  God's law is an extension of God's character, and since God is infinite and holy, any act that is contrary to His nature has an eternal consequence.  Thus, as Paul says in Romans 3:23, "the wages of sin is death"; not just death here, but death eternally in hell.  So how is God's wrath against us satisfied?  Answer:  Blood.  One of many overarching themes in the Bible is the notion of blood as a sacrifice.  In the Old Testament, animals were sacrificed to pay for the sins of the Hebrew nation.  Often, it was a spotless lamb without blemish, foreshadowing the coming of the sinless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is both man and God.  The theological term for this is the hypostatic union: the union of 2 natures, the divine and human, in the single person of Christ.  Jesus needed to be both man and God because only a man could successfully fulfill the Law and only God could pay a sacrifice worthy enough to pay for our debt of sin.  Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and therefore, fulfilled the Law.  He also died in our place, and paid our debt on the cross. (Colossians 2:14).   All those who believe on Him are free from sin and the shame and guilt that go along with it.  Hallelujah!

How does one receive Jesus?  Repent of your sin and accept the free gift of grace through faith in Jesus.  "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 10:9-10.  When you believe on the true Jesus and in the true gospel, a transformation takes place.  Jesus calls it being "born again" (John 3).  In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul talks about it this way:  "Therefore, if any one is in Christ, He is a new creation.  The old has gone, the new has come."  (2 Corinthians 5:17)  Being a Christian isn't just having knowledge that Christ died on the cross.  Even the demons believe that.  It's putting your full trust and hope in Him and calling him, "Lord", surrendering your will to His.   Being a Christian is not a life where everything is hunky dory and goes just the way you would imagine.  Jesus changes your desires to conform with His to start a brand new life walking with Him.  Christianity is a life led and guided by God Himself, submitting to the Father's will through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  God doesn't offer the things of the world.  Instead he offers something much greater:  a relationship with Him.  Will you put your trust in Him today?  Repent of your sin, accept His free gift of salvation, make Jesus your Lord and Savior.  He's waiting with open arms.  You don't have to do anything to earn it, in fact, you can't.  It's offered freely, that's why it's a gift.  Will you accept His gift today?