“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” – Romans 1:16
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.” – Mark 1:15
The apostle Paul writes in Romans that those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved, except how will they know on whom to call if they have not heard the gospel preached to them (Romans 10:13-15)?
So, when we think of sharing the gospel, we must know what it is. “Gospel” is translated from the Greek word – εὐαγγέλιον – (a good message [news], the gospel), and bears within itself the knowledge that we are sinners under the wrath of God destined to eternal torment for breaking his holy law, thus making us traitors against the king of the universe. But God, being rich in mercy, chose to pay the debt by pouring out his wrath on his son, Jesus Christ, who willing took our place and died approximately 2000 years ago on a wooden cross, showing his marvelous grace in his sacrifice that was sufficient to redeem his people.
Since gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way by which sinners are reconciled to God, it is then imperative that we understand this good news. I have summarized a few key elements to guide you in your own study of the gospel, to equip you to share this good news:
- Who is God?
- Man’s Sin Nature
- Christ’s Sufficiency
- Justified by Faith
Who is God?
The gospel must begin and end with the glory of God… (Romans 11:36)
God is our creator… “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
The fact that God is our creator means he owns us, we belong to Him, we are not our own. The one who created us has authority over his creation to do with as he pleases.
God is our righteous Judge… (Psalm 7:8-17)
We are accountable to God as our judge, each person will one day stand before our creator God in judgement and He will be just. He must use right judgement or He would not be righteous. He will render to each one according to their works (Romans 2:6).
But God is also our Savior. He loves us because we are His creation, made in His image. He is loving towards us and we depend on Him for our every need, for our every breath, and He has purposed to redeem a people for His own glory!
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross”. (Colossians 2:11-14)
Through the cross, the wrath of God was satisfied, His love exemplified, and His name Glorified!
Man’s Sin Nature
We are morally evil beings… (Romans 3:10-18, Jeremiah 17:9)
Jesus himself says we are spiritually sick and we need a doctor… He also declares that He came not for the righteous, but for the unrighteous (Luke 5:32).
We see here our need to recognize our own unrighteousness, for if we were able to obtain righteousness by our own works, then Christ did not die for us as He came for the unrighteous to make them righteous through His sacrifice.
The bible also tells us we are slaves to sin and we are not free to live how we please but desire to serve our flesh… “They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.” (John 8:33-34)
“God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26)… Mankind is in the “snare of the devil” for the purpose of doing his will.
So we get a bit of a picture of who we are without Christ, we’ve covered only a few verses in scripture that give us an idea of what the condition of human kind is apart from God: Morally evil, spiritually sick, slaves of sin, blinded of truth, children of wrath, spiritually dead.
We are in a hopeless state, the very inclination of our human nature is evil; it is our sin that defines who we are apart from Christ… we CANNOT choose good.
A slave cannot set himself free; a blind person cannot regain his own sight. Because of our sin, we are separated from God, and under His judgement.
We are an object of wrath; can we appease that wrath? NO!
We are dead; can we bring ourselves to life? NO!
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Ephesians 2:1-3)
But man is not left without hope, for here is where the beauty of the gospel – the good news – comes in; because of what Jesus Christ has done, there is a way for the sinner to be reconciled to God.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. “ (Ephesians 2:4-7)
The life of Jesus Christ displayed the righteousness of God. (Hebrews 1:3)
The apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:21 that the righteousness of God was manifested to all of us through faith in the work of Christ and we are justified by His grace through faith in the gospel.
We are slaves to sin, so we needed someone who is not a slave to sin, someone who conquered sin by their life (Hebrews 4:14-16). Because the life of Christ displayed the righteousness of God, His death was able to satisfy the wrath of God.
Romans 3:25 tells us that God put Him (Jesus) forward as a propitiation by His blood. Jesus Christ, God the Son, became a sacrifice for you and for me; He turned aside the wrath of God. This is what the word propitiation means, that He turned aside the Holy, just, good wrath of God that was meant to destroy our sin, He turned it aside by taking our sins upon himself on the cross; then the wrath of God was poured out on Him as He took on our sin, and in return cloaked us in His righteousness!
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” (1 Peter 3:18)
Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried and was raised on the third day. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Romans 6:3-11)
Justified by Faith
How does the gospel become real in my life? Let’s be very clear… Jesus is the basis of our salvation, He has done all the work, and His work is the foundation of our salvation. He purchased righteousness for you and me by His blood, this is a free gift of God, this means there is no work for you to do, Jesus has done it all… His words on the cross were “it is finished!”
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
The whole plan of salvation is about God reconciling us to Himself through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-19). The gospel message begins and ends with Jesus, the radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3)… He is the “founder and perfecter” of our faith! (Hebrews 12:2)
It is by grace that we are saved, through faith… the undeserved, unmerited, unearned favor of God.
We are made righteous because of what Christ did, not what I did; the bible calls our works of the flesh “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6)… It is only looking at Christ in faith, and what He did; this is the basis of our justification before God.
The call of faith is “repent and believe”. To illustrate, if faith were a coin, repentance and belief are the two sides of the same coin. Saving faith does not exist apart from both repentance and belief being present.
To repent, in simple terms, means to change our mind about something and will result in action (James 2:14). It is so much more than just being sorry for our sins; it is a complete change of heart by the power of the Holy Spirit that now dwells in each one of us as a child of God (Romans 8:11).
We must change our mind about who God is, about who we are, about sin, about the finished work of Christ. We turn from sin and our own ability, and trust in the work of Christ as sufficient for our salvation.
Through faith you must trust in God and the finished work of Christ; there’s nothing you can do but trust in what has been done for you. Faith is the means of our salvation; it is the opposite of works. Galatians 2 tells us that it is not by the works of the law, but by faith in Christ. “…The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17b) We have been justified by faith… we have peace with God by faith. (Romans 5:1-2)
Today will you call upon the name of the Lord for your salvation? Place your trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ and receive Him as Lord and Savior.