What is the Gospel and Why Does It Matter?

Published on:

If you have found this site, it is likely you have been looking for help through a difficult season of health struggles or hopelessness. I am praying for you as I write this blog, asking that the Lord will be gentle with you, providing the compassion, the hope and the strength that you need to endure this season. But before we step too deeply into exploring an understanding of the suffering we all endure in this life, I want to be sure that you have an understanding of the GOOD NEWS that is found in the Bible, from which suffering Christians have drawn their hope and strength for centuries. Let’s start this topic with the most important question to consider:

Who is God?

God is not like us, He is completely distinct from all things created. This is a really important thing to consider when we ponder Him. I spent a long time of my life creating God into the image of what my mind could conceive: the god I had created was more like man- impetuous, prideful, judgmental, quick to anger. He was also only pleased when I did the right things and angry when I disappointed him, or he just didn’t really care and wasn’t really going to judge anyone. This was the god of my own making and not one that scripture declares to us. The infinite God of the Bible is not fully comprehensible by mere finite creatures- let’s look at what He says about Himself:

He is Holy, which in our feeble language, basically means utterly and completely perfect: perfect goodness, perfect righteousness. Holy is the primary verb used by the angels to worship Him, which gives us good reason to dwell on it:

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!Isaiah 6:1-5 ESV

“And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Revelation 4:8 ESV

These verses give us a sense of His high-ness and how distinctively unlike us that He truly is. He is not created like us. He never does anything morally wrong like us- He defines goodness. He doesn’t make mistakes or missteps like us.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 ESV

“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” Nahum 1:7 ESV

He is not in need of anything, nor limited by anything (not sleep, not hunger, fatigue nor weakness). Thank goodness God does not need anything from us- what a weak god that would be, indeed!

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” Acts 17:24-25 ESV

God is infinite, which we cannot even begin to fathom with our FINITE minds. He is the creator of time and is Himself, outside of time and is timeless.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Revelations 22:13

When I read through the book of Daniel, I am always struck by how clearly Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon could see who the Lord  truly was after God humbled him in order to save him. His declaration is a right view of the awesomeness of God:

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored Him who lives forever, for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and He does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his Hand or say to him, “What have you done?” Daniel 4:34-35 ESV

Does this mean God is unknowable? By no means:

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans‬ ‭1:20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

You may be asking why I have spent so much time focusing on who God is in this first section, but there is a good reason for this. To be able to grasp how incredibly unbelievable and beautiful that the gospel truly is, you really need to understand how incredibly HOLY and distinct that God is from us. Next, lets consider who we are:

Who are we?

There is honestly no other book in the world that describes the human condition more accurately than the Bible, much to the dissatisfaction of many skeptics. But, let’s take an honest inventory of our hearts when we examine them. I once heard a pastor ask someone how they would feel about the idea of having every thought that came into their mind being projected onto a big screen for all to see. It was quite a revealing idea for me to consider and I quickly recognized that my thoughts aren’t good, indeed, they were shameful.

It’s so easy to begin the self-rationalization that leads us to think that we aren’t as bad as _______________(fill in the blank). Since we are better than such and such or so and so, we are pretty good, right?

That’s when the reminder from the Old Testament book of Jeremiah about the deceitfulness of our own hearts bring us right back to reality:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 ESV

 Notice the order of the statement- the heart is FIRST deceitful… then we are reminded that it is sick (sinful)! We really can’t judge our own hearts because our hearts deceives us and keeps us from really seeing the situation correctly.

Furthermore, the problem of judging our own goodness compared to another sinful person is that it is a faulty and unfixed standard of goodness. People can never be a standard of ultimate moral good.

The standard of right and wrong is God himself and he took efforts to reveals himself to mankind and declare what He thinks is really good:

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”Matthew 5:46-48 ESV

Excuse, me! Didn’t we just look at how infallible God is? Well, obviously no one can be as perfect as the Father is perfect, so who stands any chance at all?

And here is the reality of our problem, because this is who we are according to God’s word:

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

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 ‭ESV‬‬

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Believe me, we are more sinful than we can fully understand and the situation is way worse than you can imagine…

The Problem

Since we know that God is perfect, the author of good, the standard of righteousness, holy and perfectly just in all His judgments, we have a problem. We are guilty of treason against our Creator and King with every sin. We have never kept His laws perfectly. No one has. The Old Testament gives us sweeping and rated-R clarity about the inability of any people to obey His law. It also shows us God’s long-suffering love and patience with grievously sinful people- sending prophets, priests and kings to redirect them time and time again.

We are no different. And God is Holy. A good and just Judge is bound by His goodness and justice to punish wrong-doing… and we have committed High Treason. The cost of treason against an infinite God is infinite (or eternal) punishment. We could never truly pay for what we have done because of WHO HE IS. This is the problem!

But, oh…there is such great beauty in the truth that God is not like man— truth which brings us the good news (gospel)! But God

“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. 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—” Ephesians 2:1-5 ESV

We had no chance to escape what we had earned- our wages-

 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 ESV

But God stepped in..

Remember that God is not like us–He is Holy. There is nothing in all creation to compare to Him. I have only ever met creatures that are one being and one person. That’s all my created mind has known. But God is one being and three distinct persons who have always had perfect joy, perfect relationship and perfect love for each other. The love that they shared between one another was so robust and so overflowing that it was poured out onto His creation. We are the beneficiaries of the love that was shared between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!

The second person of the Godhead (Jesus) loved so richly, so fully, that he willingly stepped into His creation, put on flesh, limited his divine power to walk humbly as a man in order to live the life we couldn’t live- in perfect obedience to the Father. Then, He allowed that same creation to crucify Him, and He willingly took on the wrath of the Father on our behalf. In this unmatched, wholly divine act of sacrifice, Christ satisfied COMPLETELY the consequence of the law for our sake.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 ESV

No one takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John‬ ‭10:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬ (parenthesis mine for context)

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6 ESV

Did you catch the transaction that occurred on the cross? The perfect, sinless, Son of God took the rightful punishment and wrath of the Father that was due to us- the wages we had earned. In exchange, He gave us his perfect record, His righteousness so when we stand before God, we are covered in Christ’s perfect righteousness.

though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18 ESV

But the drama of our redemption does not end at the cross. Christ rose from the dead and conquered sin and death once and for all!!

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.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:3-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.”  ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:20-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This is why we celebrate Christ’s victory over the grave! We have eternal hope of life in Him because of His resurrection! 

And not only life, but power, as we are able to receive what was longed for by God’s people for centuries before- the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our lives to be able to walk in faithfulness to God- the power to resist sin.

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.” Ezekiel 36:26 ESV

Repent and Believe

Sin starts in the heart and so does repentance. How can you not love the God who so richly loved us? The answer is in what Christ says:

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” John‬ ‭3:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What do we need to do to be saved?

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark‬ ‭1:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We need to agree with God that what He says about Himself and about us is true and turn away from our sins. Believe that His sacrifice on the cross for our sin was enough to cover our sins once and for all time. Submit to a gentle and loving Savior in all your ways- He is Lord even to those who refuse to acknowledge it. 

 

The Gospel is so simple that a child can understand it and yet it is so profound that we will spend eternity in wonder over it.

When I read through the New Testament, I am always struck by the natural overflow of worship that happens after an apostle finishes explaining the gospel. Look at Paul in Romans: he spends chapters 1- most of 11 explaining the mystery of the gospel and breaks out almost into song in verse 33: 

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Romans 11:33 ESV

This worship is an authentic response of the heart when we meditate on the beautiful truth of Christ’s love for us. In a heart made new by the truth of the word of God, it causes us to fall in love more and more  with the one who first loved us and respond by giving Him what little we have, namely ourselves. Love causes us to want to live in obedience to him, by trusting each moment that his sacrifice for our sin was, and is sufficient to cover each sin as we learn to become more like Christ (and stumble along the way). And by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us, we leave our old love of sin in exchange for unity with our Beloved Creator.

We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 ESV

It is truly God’s kindness <that> is meant to lead you to repentance. (Romans 2:4) Repentance is the acknowledgment of our sinfulness—we agree with God’s diagnosis of our hearts, that they are full of sin—and we ask Him for His ready and willing forgiveness. He draws close to those who seek Him and why would you not want to seek after a Savior who is so good?

This is the good news of the gospel. Thanks be to God!

 

Share this post
References
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments