Sunday Service 9:30am | 301 Clinton St. Hudson, IL
What is the Gospel?
When we communicate the gospel we often find it in its reduced to essentials form - the minimum things we must believe to be saved. However, there is a great collection of truth that falls under the heading “gospel.” Here is a fuller segment of that wonderful truth!
The gospel is good news. It is the life-saving message delivered in the time of our greatest need. There are many good and true messages of Scripture that get shared in place of the life-saving gospel. Messages that are easy for anyone to swallow. Messages like; “God has a plan and a purpose for your life,” “God loves you and wants you to be happy,” or “God wants to have a personal relationship with you."
These statements are all true and important for people to know, but it is not what we mean when we say “The Gospel.” The gospel is that specific message found in Scripture that shares how God is redeeming his creation from the corruption of evil. The gospel centers on Christ and includes our own salvation and eternal life. It is a message that begins with bad news and ends with good news. There are parts of it that nobody wants to hear, but like Paul, we are "not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes"
First the Bad News:
God - the One True God - created a good world, created man and woman, and placed them in a good garden, and gave them a good command and warned that if they disobeyed they would die.
Adam and Eve broke that command and God cursed them and the earth and condemned them to die. All pain, all evil, all sickness and death are a result of that curse. Yet, in his mercy, God left Adam and Eve with the promise that he would send a descendent of Adam who would destroy Satan and reverse the curse that God placed on the earth.
(Genesis 1-3, Hebrews 11:3)
All of us, as their descendants, are born spiritually dead and enemies of God. Every part of who we are is corrupted by evil. That doesn’t mean that every person is as bad as they can be, but it means that every person is fundamentally bad. From conception, our wills are bound to rebellion, we are held in bondage to sin. Whatever good we set out to do is mixed with evil in motive and action. We are born selfish, prideful, and unable to control our passions. Those who insist on the purity and innocence of children haven’t spent much time in a daycare!
(Psalm 51:5, Romans 7:14, Romans 5:12, Colossians 1:21, 1 John 2:16)
Not only were we born sinful and enemies of God by inheritance, we have added to our fallen nature willful wicked deeds. So, we are justly condemned before God and deserving of his wrathful punishment on evildoers. If we knew the commands of God, we broke them. If we didn’t know the commands of God, we still did what our conscience told us was wrong. There is no-one who can stand before God as innocent. None who measure up to his standard of perfection. None who haven’t shared in evil. None who haven’t harmed anyone. None who have worshiped God as his glory deserves, and his right as our creator demands.
(Rom 1:18-21, Rom 2:12-16, Rom 3:10-12, Rom 3:23, Psalm 130:3, Psalm 29:2, 2 Peter 3:5-7, 10; Rev 20:11-15)
So what is a holy, perfect, and just God to do? Should he pardon evil? How much evil? We tend to think God should grade on a curve (and each of us pictures ourselves on the better endof that curve). But should the evil of even one hurtful insult that someone carries for the rest of their lives be simply dismissed in God’s court? Who of us can stand before God with the full tally of our wicked deeds? Doesn’t our good become irrelevant when measured against the harm we have done? A righteous God must hold every sin accountable. There can be no partiality. All have sinned. All are punished.
Yet, how can a good God not be merciful? How can the Creator not recognize and pity the weakness of his creation? How can God’s perfect, holy justice and his gentle, forgiving mercy be reconciled?
(James 2:10-11, Leviticus 5:17, Psalm 24:3-4, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Genesis 18:25, Exodus 34:6-7, Psalm 130:3-4, Psalm 103)
The Good News
God has extended mercy and forgiveness to all mankind and justly punished sin through the gift of his Son who was crucified in our place. God’s justice and mercy are reconciled at the cross.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they immediately recognized their guilt before God, this came with asense of shame recognized in their nakedness. They covered themselves in leaves, but that was not enough to cover their guilt. Their guilt required death. The shedding of blood. Rather than take their lives at that time, God took the life of an animal instead - and covered their guilt, shame, and nakedness with the skin of the animal.
This was the first in a long line of animal sacrifices that stood as a substitute for the guilt of the person making the offering. But the blood of animals never really could make us clean. They simply served to remind mankind of the punishment their sins deserved and pointed to the real sacrifice that was coming. The one who's blood could be shed in our place and remove our guilt, taking the death and punishment that we deserved.
(Heb 8:1-6, 9:22, 10:3-4)
Jesus Christ, who existed from eternity together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, Creator of the Universe, took on flesh. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the young virgin, Mary. Because of his supernatural conception, he didn’t share the same curse of sin that the rest of humanity had. He was perfect, sinless, yet fully human, while fully God.
Jesus was unlike us in another way as well. He grew from birth to adulthood without ever breaking the requirements of God. He did nothing evil, he said nothing evil, neither did he sin in his heart. This made him uniquely qualified to be the sacrifice for us. Like the sacrificial lambs without blemish at the temple that pointed towards his arrival, Jesus could stand in our place because he had no guilt of his own.
Despite having never sinned, Jesus’ teaching offended and threatened the powers that were. So he was wrongly condemned by the religious leaders of the temple. He was condemned by the Roman government without cause (by their own admission!) He was condemned by the common people. He was deserted and betrayed by his own disciples.
(Mark 11:18, 12:12, 15:11 ; Luke 23:4, 14, 22-24)
As unjust as his treatment by humanity was, there was even more scandal happening in Heaven. Christ took on the sins of mankind. Our guilt was transferred to him. The Holy Son of God, stood condemned by the Heavenly Father, and drank up God's holy anger against our evil sins.
Jesus, the perfect Son of God, was condemned and crucified. The body of the Author of Life hung lifeless on the cross. A group of followers took his body, and buried him in a tomb. Yet, as the Spirit had promised in Scripture, God did not abandon his Son to the grave. The Father was perfectly pleased with his perfect sacrifice and Christ was raised from the grave by the power of the Holy Spirit. Many were witnesses that Jesus had been raised from the dead and he taught them, encouraged them, and instructed them. Finally, he was taken up in a cloud back to Heaven before the very eyes of his followers. It is that group that has written their testimony of what they saw and heard from Christ and has given us a record of those things in the New Testament Scriptures.
Because of Jesus we have a way of escape from the condemnation our sins. A door has been opened to salvation through the blood of Jesus. Anybody who hears these words and believes in Jesus for forgiveness, freely admitting the evil they have done, is forgiven of their sins and cleansed of all unrighteousness. God has promised not to bring their sins up against them again.
(2 Cor 5:18-21, John 1:10-12, 3:16-21; Rom 3:21-26, 10:17; Isaiah 53; 1 Peter 2:24; Gal 3:13, Acts 13:34-35, Acts 1:9, 1 Cor 15:3-6,Ps 103:12, Is 43:25, Rom 8:1)
Not only is their record cleared, they alsoreceive the good record of Christ. They stand before God, not empty handed or with merely a clean slate, but actively righteous, Holy in the eyes of God. The testimony of the Heavenly Father concerning Christ, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased,” is transferred to them and they hear “Well done good and faithful servant.”
(2 Cor 5:21, Romans 1:17, Romans 3:21-22, 1 Corinthians 1:30, Mat 3:17, Mat 25:21)
Were these promises not enough for rejoicing - the gospel adds to them that the new believer is a new creature in Christ. He or she is “born again.” Free from the enslavement of sin. Free to live a life pleasing to God and filled with a desire to do so. Also, the Holy Spirit comes to live in their hearts permanently. This “seal” of the Holy Spirit is like a deposit of the resurrection within themselves so they have hope of eternity carried with them in everysituation and struggle. Because God is alive in them they are united in fellowship with God, knowing they are never alone. God the Father further adopts them as sons and daughters of God and co-heirs of everything with Christ. This makes Christ their brother and friend who intercedes on their behalf before the Father. They also possess in themselves the Hope of Glory- the glory which shall be revealed in us - which is not yet fully understood, except that it will be fully wonderful. As a result they no longer live for themselves, but solely for the glory of God.
(2 Cor 5:17, 1 Peter 1:23, Rom 6:6, Rom 8:3, 2 Peter 1:3-4, Ephesians 1:13-14, Rom 8:15-17, Heb 2:11, John 15:15, Rom 8:34, Col 1:27, 1 John 3:2)
All who believe will be citizens of a new Heaven and New Earth, where we will live forever, free from pain, sickness, death, broken relationships, sin, and tears. And in that glorious place we will be worshiping God forever. Knowing him as he knows us in perfect fellowship.
The gospel is not just about forgiveness and a joyful eternity. The Gospel that the Angels announced at the birth of Christ, the gospel that John the Baptist preached to prepare the way for Christ, the Gospel that Jesus began his ministry with, the Gospel that Jesus sent his disciples out preaching, is the gospel of the arrival of the Kingdom of God. It is about the glorious reign of Jesus over all the earth. It is about the end of rebellion and the dawn of submission from the hearts of the people of God. Jesus taught that it would start as a mustard seed, but grow to be a source of blessing and rest from evil throughout all the world.
(Luke 2:10-11, Mat 3:2, Mat 4:17, Mat 10:7, Mat 13:31-32)
Jesus said “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Salvation is not merely an acknowledgment of something inthe head. It is more than a simple prayer someone says. It is a work of the Holy Spirit in the heart to open our eyes to the truth, convict us of our sin, and surrender our will in obedience to Christ as Lord. It involves the death of ourselves, and rebirth into new life. This conversion is visibly symbolized and outwardly confirmed in baptism which Christ commands of all who follow him. Through baptism the Holy Spirit testifies to the work God has done in our hearts in saving us.
(Mat 16:24-25, Acts 26:17-18, Mat 11:27, John 16:8, Titus 2:11-12, Rom 6:1-4)
Nobody but Jesus has ever lived a perfect life. That makes his life the only one accepted by God, and his death the only acceptable sacrifice inour place. So, Jesus is the only way to be saved. The end of every other “way to God” is death. Destruction. Damnation. Christ is coming to reward his followers with eternal life and cast those who have rejected him into hell. Here is the good news. Hear it! Oh, hear it! Hear it and be saved!
(1 John 2:2, John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Mat 7:13-14, Prov 16:25, 1 Peter 4:17-18, 2 Thes 1:5-10, Rev 20:11-15, Rev 3:20, Mat 11:28-29, Is. 1:18, Rev 22:17)