The Gospel of Jesus Christ
The word “gospel” refers to good news. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that through Jesus Christ, God saves sinners from the condemnation that they deserve. The gospel is not about Jesus enhancing one’s self-esteem, nor merely about getting help from God to get through a hard situation. The good news of Jesus is a lot better than these, because it answers a problem that is far worse than low self-esteem or feelings of discouragement.
The gospel addresses the problem of God’s wrath against us because of our sin. Right now, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven (Romans 1:18). Further, God has appointed a day when He will judge all men and women with perfect justice. And He has appointed a man to carry out His justice against sinners, and He has proven this by raising that man from the dead (Acts 17:36).
God created us to serve Him, to do His will and express His dominion over the world (Genesis 1:26-28), but we have rebelled against him. We in fact are dead in our sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1). We were created righteous and good, but we lost this when Adam and Eve sinned. So instead of exercising dominion, we exercise autonomy from God. We live as we please. God describes us in the following way, “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one" (Romans 3:12).
What all of this means is that God is not happy with us. People usually object that this denies God’s love. However, God is both righteous just, and we deserve his just wrath against our sins.
To be sure, this is not how most of us regard God or ourselves. Maybe you, like most people, regard yourself as basically good. Yes, you’ve done some things you regret, but you’ve lived a good life since then and that makes up for any bad you have done. Consequently, you believe God is not going to hold anything against you.
But one can see the danger of this thinking in this way by comparing yourself to the commandments of God. Take the first commandment, “You shall have no gods before me.” Then ask yourself this question: Has God always been first in my life? Has my job ever been first? My kids? My girlfriend or boyfriend? Or my car? Or anything else?
The Bible teaches that not one of us has kept any of God’s commandments. We are far more sinful that we like to think; we are at enmity with God; we hate God. We don’t want Him telling us what to do or how we are to live or what to think.
But we must humble ourselves and agree with God’s assessment of us. We all need to come to that place where we cry out, “God have mercy on me, a poor sinful being!” Otherwise we will have no need for God to save us. We will not see ourselves as under his wrath.
But God in his lavish grace has undertaken to save his people from his coming wrath. He did this through the exchange that happened at the cross. Jesus died on the cross as an atoning sacrifice. This means that he substituted himself in our place to suffer the penalty of our sin. God was accounting our sin against him. This is what is meant when we say, “Christ died in our place.” One the traditional hymns poetically states the point: “In my place, condemned he stood.” Further, God imputed or accounted to the believer Jesus’s spotless record of holiness and obedience. So the exchange that happened on the cross was this: our sins were imputed to Christ, his righteousness was imputed to us who believer. In this transaction, then, God was just, rightly punishing sins, and he was merciful to sinners, making sinner right with him.
After three days, God raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus is now the exalted Lord of heaven and earth calling upon men and women from all nations to come to him for mercy and redemption.
The question is how can we have this exchange applied to ourselves? How can we access God’s forgiveness?
The answer is that we should be genuinely sorry for what we have done and turn away from our sins to Christ. Trust in him, and what he did on the cross. And when we truly believe, God will forgive us all our sins, grant us peace and reconciliation with Him. You will no longer be guilty or stand condemned, because Jesus was condemned for you. You broke the law, but Jesus paid your fine.
So instead of minimizing your sins, take them seriously as God does. And instead of thinking your goodness makes up for your sins, flee to Christ for salvation and become one of his followers.
The Bible says that now is the day of salvation. The offer will close on the day when Jesus Christ comes. Repent and believe on Him while the offer is still being made.
If you would like to understand the gospel in more detail and depth, please contact us. Also a helpful tool to help you explore the Christian faith is the Heidelberg Catechism which you can find here.