the gospel

and you

the gospel

and you

 

The Truth of the Gospel

 

In the beginning, God created everything, including humanity, pure and good. But the first man Adam, and the first woman Eve, both sinned – they did something God had told them not to do. (Genesis 3) As a result of this, all of humanity was plunged into sin, and all of the creation has suffered under the weight this fall ever since. Relationships were broken, people became unable to be trusted, people began to hurt each other (Genesis 4) – everything that has gone wrong throughout history and in every society is the result of sin. All of the emotions, attitudes, and actions which result in the degradation of human life and human flourishing, began as a result of sin.

 

The first part of the truth of the Gospel then, is that we must all realize we have a problem, we have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and we cannot fix this on our own. If we are honest with ourselves, we know this to be true. We all know we have done things we should not have done, our own consciences bear witness against us. And what is worse, even if I were able to stop sinning from this moment on, everything I have done wrong before this moment remains as a witness against us. The past cannot be changed, it remains and the only way we can find our lives restored is by the work of Jesus Christ.


KEY ISSUE: This is not about whether you are good, most people have their moments, and some more than others. This is also not about whether you are good compared to someone else, we can always find someone worse than ourselves by our own estimates. This is about a debt which is held in your account against you because of your sin, a debt you cannot pay because you do not have the ability to pay it.


God knowing we have all been ruined by sin and its effects in the world, determined to do everything He could to bring all of humanity back to Himself. And since we could not restore ourselves, or regain our position as the crown of God's creation, God knew He had to do this Himself. So the second truth of the gospel is that God took the necessary steps to bring about our redemption.

 

2 Corinthians 5:21 "He made Him who knew no sin {to be} sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

 

Jesus Christ came into the earth, and took our place – exchanging our sin and rebellion against God for His righteousness so that we could be restored back to God. Jesus willingly offered Himself on our behalf so that we might be able to be rescued from the consequences of everything we have done wrong.

 

How we can benefit and receive all of the results of what Jesus has done for us is found in Paul's letter to the Romans.

 

Romans 10:8-10 "But what does it say? "THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART"— that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."

 

God's part was sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins, our part is genuinely believing that when Jesus did this work on the cross, it was meant for me personally. We are also to confess, acknowledge out loud that we are sinners and Jesus paid the price for this to make us right before God once again. The apostle Peter also tells us our part includes something else important.

 

Acts 2:37-40 "Now when they heard {this,} they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Peter {said} to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!"

 

Here is what genuine faith looks like, their belief in the message of the gospel Peter is telling them about causes them to be pierced to the heart about the truth, and they seek direction on what to do next. Peter then tells them repentance is necessary, which means to turn away from sin and begin doing what is right in God's eyes instead. When God sent Jesus into the world to die for our sins, it was not to leave us as we were, a change was expected – and this change comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and our own personal repentance from sin. It is like an exchange of lives is taking place. In any relationship an exchange of lives takes place if there is going to be any depth or reality to it; so Jesus gives His life literally for our sake, and now we give back our lives in return and live for God instead of for ourselves and our desires. The apostle Paul knew this idea intimately.

 

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the {life} which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

 

This is not about feeling better about ourselves, although we probably will. This is not about appeasing some demand in our religious sensibilities either. This is about God saving us from death, eternal death. This is why Christians talk about salvation and "being saved." We have been saved from sin and death through what Jesus did for us on the cross.

 

Responding to the Truth of the Gospel

 

Perhaps you are wondering who can respond to the truth of the gospel. Everyone is welcome who recognizes the truth and desires to follow Christ. There is no sin which God cannot forgive, and no lifestyle so offensive that God cannot intervene to turn it around so you can be saved. Jesus was known as a "friend of sinners" in the Bible, he welcomed everyone good and bad, no matter how extreme their lives are. If God has been working on your heart and you know He has been leading you to Him, respond to His calling, He loves you more than you can know.

 
Responding for the First Time

 

If you are coming to realize the truth about yourself, sin, and God's offer of salvation for the first time, we would encourage you do what we have been discussing up until now.

 

1. Pray and confess your sin to God.

2. Ask God to forgive you of your sins based upon what Jesus did.

3. Commit to following Christ with your whole life.

4. Begin taking your next steps (See below)

 

Responding to the Gospel again, coming back to Christ

 

If you have previously given your life to Christ, but have realized you have wandered away from living for Christ, we would encourage you to do the same thing.

 

1. Pray and confess your sin to God.

2. Ask God to forgive you of your sins based upon what Jesus did.

3. Commit to following Christ with your whole life.

4. Begin taking your next steps (See below)

 

A Prayer

 

God, forgive me for my sins, I admit I have sinned against you and others. Take my life, I believe all that Jesus did was for me and my life, everything – His suffering, death, and resurrection paid for my sins and can restore my relationship with You. Lead me and strengthen me by the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I commit to living for Christ with all of my being, every part of my life will be lived out for Your glory. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

 

If you have prayed this prayer, we welcome you to the family of God. The prayer is not magical, nor are the words being said required. It is the intent of your heart and mind to repentance and following Christ that matters. Any words prayed with the intent of calling upon Christ are what matter, God knows our hearts and responds to us.

 

Next Steps for the Christian

 

1. Begin reading your Bible Living the Christian life involves a whole different way of seeing the world and manner of living which often is contrary to the culture we find ourselves in, or the way we were raised as children. This leaves us often ignorant of what living a life which honors God looks like. Reading and studying our Bible provides us with insights into God and our relationship with Him, as well as wisdom and direction for living. Spending time in our Bibles then becomes a matter of being a necessity to our Christian life, instead of something which can seem optional. Commit to a time to spend in your Bible each day, perhaps even find a reading schedule so you complete the Bible in one year, or three years. (Psalm 119:1)

When you are reading, ask yourself some questions; What does this passage from the Bible tell me about God? What does this passage tell me about myself? Is there something here I need to be doing or believing? Is there something I need to change? There is no need to overcomplicate your reading in the Bible, just let it say what it wants to say without your preconceived ideas, and then determine to live it out. As one final note, we would recommend starting your reading in the Gospel of John.

 

2. Begin praying every day Prayer is a lifeline for every Christ-follower. Any relationship requires communication for the relationship to grow and develop, and our relationship with God is no different. Spending time in prayer, learning how to simply have a conversation with God and tell him all that is on your heart is important, and all of us need to regularly do this. Once again this is something all of us generally need to commit to and make a place for in the rhythms of our lives. Get away to a quiet place with limited distractions where you can focus on talking to God about everything and anything at all. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

 

3. Begin spending time with other Christians in a good Bible-believing church Like many other situations in life, there is strength in numbers. And for Christians, being among other believers is very much like this and can be tremendously helpful for our faith and for living in a way that honors God. This being the case, it is important to find, and become a part of, a Christian community of believers who hold to the Bible as their rule of faith and life. There are many types of churches, some good and some not so good, so we would encourage you to carefully seek out a church that is going to help you grow in your relationship with God. Make it a priority to be among other Christ-followers, and if you can, be a part of a small group where you feel comfortable and can really engage with other believers. (Hebrews 10:24-25) God did not intend on our living the Christian life alone, He intended for us to do this in community.

 

4. Begin living in a way that honors God As we discussed earlier, God did not save us from our sins to allow us to remain in sin. God desires for us to grow in our faith and live it out in very practical ways. In fact the apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children" (Ephesians 5:1) We have the opportunity to reflect the life of God with our lives in love, compassion, right living, and generosity. As we grow in our faith we must also grow in right living as well, but we should never lose sight of what God has done to save us and become arrogant imagining we have cleaned ourselves up. To live in a way that honors God requires humility and trusting that the Holy Spirit is changing us all along the way. (Titus 3:5)

 

5. Begin sharing your belief in Christ with others As we are growing in our faith and experiencing the life God intended for us, including peace and a close relationship with God, we will not be able to keep silent about what God has done. Other people will notice the changes taking place in our lives and this will provide opportunities for us to share with them what God has done for us. This does not have to be something fearful or complicated, we just need to share what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. There is no need to force conversations, just look for opportunities that arise in natural conversations.

 

God bless you as you commit to and begin following Christ. Living for Christ is something that is exciting and God will bless your steps as you follow Him.