Christians talk a lot about “the gospel.” The word “gospel” simply means good news, and the Christian gospel is the good news of what God has done for believing sinners in Jesus Christ. But it is news that demands a response—and news that is proclaimed in the face of a pressing problem.
To understand the good news of the gospel, we need to consider four basic truths.
The first truth to consider is that God created us and we are accountable to him.
The Bible states it very plainly: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). This is the foundation of everything we know about God and humanity. If we get this wrong, we will get everything wrong. God created everything—including humans—and he therefore has the right to tell us how to live. You must understand that in order to understand the good news about Jesus.
The Bible describes God as “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness … forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” At the same time, he is a God “who will by no means clear the guilty” (Exodus 34:6–7). The loving God of the Bible will not leave the guilty unpunished. To understand just how glorious and life-giving the gospel of Jesus Christ is, we have to understand that God is also holy and righteous. He is determined never to ignore or tolerate sin—including ours!
The second truth to consider is that we have all sinned against a good and holy God, and are therefore destined for eternal destruction.
When God created the first human beings—Adam and Eve—he intended for them to live under his righteous rule in perfect joy, obeying him and living in fellowship with him. When Adam disobeyed God, that fellowship with God was broken. By their disobedience, Adam and Eve had declared rebellion against God. They had rejected his authority.
But Adam and Eve were not alone in sin-guilt. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). We often think of sin as little more than a violation of some heavenly traffic law—something over which God should not be too upset. That is a massive underestimation of the nature of sin. Sin is the rejection of God himself and his right to exercise authority over those to whom he gives life.
Once you understand sin in that light, you begin to understand why “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This death is described as “eternal destruction” (2 Thessalonians 1:9) and “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46). This final judgement follows biological death (Hebrews 9:27) and it is certain for all who do not embrace God’s solution to our sin problem.
The third truth to consider is that God sent Jesus to die in the place of sinners to save them from their sin.
There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves from sin—but that is why Jesus Christ came to earth. Jesus is God’s anointed one—the one sent to reconcile man to God. He is the King that God had promised would come to set up an eternal kingdom.
Jesus’ mission was to make people into citizens of his eternal kingdom. He did so by dying in their place—taking upon himself the punishment for sin. As he died on a Roman cross, the awful weight of oursins fell on his shoulders. The sentence of death God had pronounced against rebellious sinners struck. Jesus died for those he came to save.
But the story doesn’t end there. The crucified King did not remain in the tomb; he rose from the dead. He is not just the King crucified, but the King resurrected! Jesus’ resurrection was God’s way of saying, “What Jesus claimed about who he is and what he came to do is true!”
The fourth truth to consider is that, because of who Jesus was and what he did, God now extends to humanity the offer of forgiveness of sin.
What does God expect us to do with the information that Jesus died in our place? He expects us to respond with repentance and faith.
To repent means to turn away from our rebellion against God. Repentance doesn’t mean an immediate end to our sinning. It does mean that we will never again live at peace with our sins.
Not only that, but we also turn to God in faith. Faith is reliance. It is a promise-based trust in the risen Jesus to save you from your sins.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Jesus “himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).
To be counted righteous before God, we need someone’s righteousness credited to us. That’s what happens when a person is saved by Jesus: All our sins are credited to him, who took the punishment for them, and his perfect righteousness is credited to us when we place our trust in what he has done for us.
Do you believe that you have rebelled against God and deserve his wrath? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died the death that you deserve for your sins? Do you believe that he rose from the grave and lives to stand in your place as your Substitute and Saviour? If that is your heartfelt conviction, you can call upon him in repentance for the forgiveness of your sins.