This is the grand story. This is the meaning of life. These points explain all other things in the world, past, present and future. This is what God has done, is doing and will do. These matters are life and death. Read this, think about it, take it seriously.
What is the Gospel, or good news, of salvation through Jesus Christ?
Sin – “…man, who is vile and corrupt, who drinks up evil like water!” (Job 15:16)
First the bad news. You and I are sinners. We are not born morally clean. We are not a fresh slate when we start out. We are born sinful because we inherited from our first parents a nature that is bent on rebellion against God. This is why children naturally disobey their parents. This is why all of us, even with the best intentions in the world and all the effort we can muster, can not ever behave perfectly.
Separation – “But your iniquities have separated you from your God…” (Isaiash 59:2)
This sinful condition we are all born into is no light matter. Causing trouble in our lives and the lives of people around us are the least of our worries. One writer has said, “The human condition is not just a bucket of errors; it is an ocean of iniquity…”* Because of our sin, we are separated from the sinless God. He is too glorious and pure to look upon evil and accept us into his presence. Nothing impure can reside with him in heaven. If it were so, then it wouldn’t be heaven. The only thing we deserve is death, hell and punishment for our offense against our infinitely holy creator God.
Substitution – “God made him who had no sin, to be sin for us…” (2 Cor 5:21)
The man Jesus Christ was no mere man. He was fully God and fully man in one person. He was called the “lamb of God” because he, like the millions of lambs slaughtered in the old testament in place of sinful Israel, went to the cross and voluntarily laid down his life in substitution for his people. Peter wrote, “For Christ died for sin, once for all, the righteous (that’s Christ!) for the unrighteous (that’s you and me!) to bring you to God. God in all of his grace has said that he will accept the death of his son in the place of all those who place their faith in him and his death as their only hope to escape the death they deserve because of their sin.
Salvation – “…who then can be saved?”(Matthew 19:25)
This whole list could be described as salvation. What I mean here is that the Bible tells all that everyone, everywhere should hear this good news and turn from sin to put all their hope, trust, faith and weight in the only savior, the God-Man Jesus Christ. Today is day of salvation, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. The good news, or gospel, comes with a command – to repent. Turn from your wicked ways. Come, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins be as red as scarlet, they will become white as snow because of the cleansing forgiveness that only the sin bearer himself can offer you.
Sanctification – “May God himself…sanctify you through and through.” (1 Thes 5:23)
God doesn’t just rescue his people from the penalty their sins deserve. This is only the beginning of the process. He also, from the point they believe, begins a process called sanctification whereby he continually works in and through those who believe on Christ to make them hate sin more and more, and love Christ more and more. It is during this life long process of sanctification that they are gradually freed more and more from the power of sin over their lives. They are drawn into a local church, into God’s written word, drawn to their knees in prayer and sent out to proclaim salvation through Christ alone to all who will listen.
conSumation – “He who began a good work…will carry it on to completion…” (Philippians 1:6)
I know, I know. It doesn’t start with an “S”. S-orry! J God will complete this work of salvation and bring his people, those who are trusting in Christ alone, to full and complete rescue from sin and death and into eternal fellowship with him in heaven. Salvation is of the Lord and this is all by grace, not because of anything righteous we have done! Those who do not, are not and will not turn from sin and place all of their hope and trust in Jesus Christ will be judged and condemned when the end of time comes. God is love. But God is a loving judge too. He will not let the unrighteous go unpunished. He would not be good if he let all of us into heaven with him, winking at all our sin and tolerating our rejection of him.
He commands everyone everywhere to repent.