What is the Gospel?

 

thegospelslidecover1Let us first define what “gospel” means. It means “good news”. The first question we must address is, to whom does this “good news” belong? It is clear in scripture that the gospel is for all of mankind, poor and rich, black and white, Jew and gentile, young and old, man and woman. All types of all kinds of men and women. This is a universal gospel that all men are called to believe, yet all men do not.

The next questions we must address is: What is the “news”? What about this news makes it “good”? To whom is it good for? These questions are not as easily answered as one may think. In order to get an adequate understanding we must go back to the beginning of creation.  Back to when the first man (Adam) committed man’s first sin against God. I am assuming that most people have a brief understanding of creation and how man is the greatest of God’s creation on this Earth. The Bible mentions several examples that clearly set man apart from the rest of creation. Examples like: he was created in the “image of God”(Gen 1:26), he became a “living soul”(Gen 2:7), and most importantly he was created with the ability to hear God when He speaks. That was just to name a few, but we are far beyond animals and we must never speak of ourselves as a mere animal. By admitting that, we are proclaiming the image of God to be an animal. May this never be. So after Adam was created God said to him:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  (Genesis 2:16-17)

This is the first covenant God made with man; it is often referred to as the “covenant of works”. The “covenant of works” basically means, as long as Adam remains perfectly holy without any sin, he will have peace with God. The day in which Adam sins, he will no longer be at peace with God and will have to be separated from God both physically and spiritually, that separation is called “death”. “Life” and “death” in the Bible are usually defined by our status with God. If you have peace with God, it is said that you have “life”, because you are alive to God. If you are not at peace with God, then you separated from Him, dead to Him. There is an important point that needs to be taken from this. God (who is perfectly fair and just) declared that the just penalty of sin against Him is death. The fruit didn’t poison and kill Adam; it was his sin against God. The apostle Paul would later write in his letter to the Romans in chapter 6 “the wages of sin is death“. Thats it, the penalty of sin is death and it has been made that by God who is perfectly righteous and just. So be careful when you object for such a harsh penalty, remember who God is. There is no unfairness or injustice in Him. He is perfect love as He is perfect justice.

So what does that have to do with us today? Well, the serpent deceived Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. She then gave it to Adam and Adam ate it as well. God then confronted them for their sin and God said:

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”(Genesis 3:14-19)

And then God made the a gracious decision to banish man from the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve could damage themselves any further by eating more forbidden fruit. This was a very loving act, like a parent setting up gates to keep their 1 year old baby from the kitchen knives, and hot stove. So God drove them out of the garden of Eden.

Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.   (Genesis 3:22-23)

This is our current position today. We are naturally dead to God. We are born dead to God. If we are left to ourselves we are in an absolutely helpless and hopeless state. Adam did not have the ability to make himself holy again. His holiness and peace with God was lost when Adam sinned. We are all children of Adam. So we are all in Adam’s helpless state. Therefore every one of us says as King David said:

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.(Psalms 51:5)

So, because we are all children of the fallen man Adam, we are born with his fallen nature. We are “children of wrath” as the Bible would say. Paul says this very thing in his letter to the Ephesians He says:

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)

So we are by nature in the bondage of sin. We are born into it, it is our nature and by necessity we are children of wrath. Look at how Paul describes all of mankind:

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”    (Romans 3:10-12)

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,    (Romans 3:23)

There it is, that’s who you are, that is who I am. That is our nature, that is what we do. Would you believe me, if I told you that it even gets worse than this? Mankind is not only being held responsible for our own sin, but we are being held accountable for the sin of Adam. That’s what the apostle says in his letter to the Romans he says:

Therefore, just as through one man(Adam) sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned–      (Romans 5:12)

This is often referred to as “original sin”. So you can argue all you want about your own goodness, even if you were a perfect little boy or girl (which is impossible) you are not off the hook, you are being held responsible for Adams sin. God is imputing Adam’s sin into your account, because you are part of Adam. We are all children of Adam. We are his posterity. This is our present day position and it is hopeless. This is what makes the gospel, the “good news”!  I wonder, did you see the gospel? Are you asking yourself, what gospel? Kyle never mentioned anything about the gospel! Ohh yes I did! Let us look again to when God was cursing Adam, Eve and the serpent. God told that devil, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

God was already proclaiming the work of Christ in the Garden of Eden. What God was saying was that He (Christ) will destroy the works of the devil (bruising the devils head), yet He will have to taste the death of sin to do it (bruising Christ’s heel). So to put this in a sequence, Adam was created and then sinned against God and was likewise subject to death. Yet God loved His creation (man) and was not willing for him to be destroyed. So God promised that there will be One who will be born from a woman who will destroy the works of the devil (bruise him on the head), but will have to face the full judgment of God (bruise Him on the heel by facing the death of sin) to do it. The plan of man’s redemption is being worked out just as God promised in the very beginning. The woman who bore the seed that would bruise the devil’s head was the virgin Mary as scripture says:

And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”     (Matthew 1:19-21)

Is this not exactly what God promised in the Garden of Eden?  Jesus Himself testifies to what happened in the Garden of Eden He says:

“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)

Let’s walk through this because it is usually not properly understood. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son”- God loved man so much so that He was not willing for man to eternally die for his sin. So God told the devil, that He would put enmity between the devil’s seed (sinful destruction of mankind) and her seed (Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah). “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”- This is the Son of God bruising the head of the devil. Because of man’s faith (belief) in Christ, He is declared “righteous”or “justified” by God. Which means there is no sin to convict man.  Jesus is effectively destroying the devil’s work. That is exactly what God promised in the Garden of Eden. God has openly declared this teaching of salvation which is found in Christ. It is written:

And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.     (Habakkuk 2:2-4)

This is the scripture the apostle Paul quoted in the New Testament in Romans chapter 1:

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. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”      (Romans 1:16-17)

This means that the righteous man will live eternally and never die because of faith (belief) in Jesus, the second person in the Trinity, the Messiah, the Son of God.  You can say it this way, “By faith, the righteous shall live”. This is the gospel! This has been the plan since before the creation of the world. Man can be right with God, declared to be righteous by God, but only through faith. Sola Fide. The apostle Paul says the very same thing he says:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.    (Romans 5:1)

We who are justified by God are by necessity at peace with God. So much so the apostle writes :

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.(Romans 8:1)

How exactly is this done? Well remember how God imputed Adams sin to us? God imputed sinful man into Christ on the cross and God judged Christ guilty of sin and put Him to death, (remember what death is physically and spiritually). Thereby fulfilling the covenant of works, the wages of sin is death and death was executed to Christ. So now, God will impute the righteousness of Christ into those who believe in Him. This is what Paul was telling these people in his letter to the Romans:

And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.    (Romans 5:16-19)

Paul probably says it best when He is pleading with the Corinthians:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 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 5:17-21)

Here is another verse from the apostle Paul regarding this imputation:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.     (Romans 6:3-8)

I am sorry but it is critical that you get this, one more set of verses:

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,    (Ephesians 2:4-6)

That is what the “covenant of grace” is. It is the means by which the covenant of works is completed by Christ for those who believe. Because of faith, God imputes man into Christ, it is an eternal union with the Lord of Glory. If Christ paid the penalty of sin, and I am in Christ, then I have had the penalty of my sin paid for by Christ. If all of my sin (future,past,present) was paid for, what sin is there to condemn me of? If I cannot be condemned for any sin then I must be righteous! Therefore God righteously justifies the ungodly through faith! Paul is strong in his words when he says:

Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
(Romans 8:33-34)

You may say to yourself, “all I have to do is believe, that’s easy!”.  Is belief something you can control? Is true belief an ability we possess? Can I choose to believe something? Because here is the thing, true belief (faith) is not something we all possess, it is not something we can work to possess, it is the gracious gift of God. Paul says:

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)

So I ask you, do you believe what the scriptures have clearly said concerning Jesus Christ? If so, you have a mighty God who saves by His grace to thank for it. If you think this is the most ridiculous thing you have ever read, then scriptures say this about you:

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.           (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

If you are unsure, with doubts, go to God, tell Him all about it. God can and does save people, even people who are with the hardest of hearts. He has promised to do so:

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
(Ezekiel 36:26-28)
God has saved people who have committed the most horrible sins. God saved a man who was very much like terrorist, putting to death Christians, a man named Saul of Tarsus. That man Saul of Tarsus through the grace of God became the mighty apostle Paul. How quick he is to give all the glory of his salvation to God, He says:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
(1 Corinthians 15:1-10)
There is no place you have gone that leaves you in an unsaveable position. There is no sin that cannot be atoned for through Christ. But you must repent, and believe in Jesus Christ. Who He is, what He has done for you. I am not trying to scare you but the fact of the matter is, what you believe about this Son of God, Jesus Christ has everlasting eternal implications, that is not something we should brush aside even for a moment.

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