To understand what the Gospel, 'Good News", is all about we must be aware of some fundamental differences that The Bible points out between God's character and ours. First, it tells us that the very foundation of His character is His holiness. He is without fault. The Bible says, "As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless." (2 Samuel 22:31) We can't honestly claim that our way (the way we live) is perfect and that our word is flawless can we? Which takes me to my next point.
Since God is holy, He cannot fellowship with anyone who has sin in his life. This doesn't mean that He wants nothing to do with us lowly sinners. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Jesus' enemies scorned Him by calling Him a "friend of sinners." (Matthew 11:19) God loves us very much. 1 John 4:16 says this. "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us." And then it adds, 'God is love."
As much as holiness is the reflection of God?s character, love is the motivation behind everything He does. God?s love is as pure as His character. For that reason One who is the embodiment of love must have an object to love. Thus He created people with one purpose in mind. He wanted to have someone to love who would love Him as well. For God is not religious; He?s relational. He wanted to have friends.
Thus God created Adam for the sole purpose of being friends with him. Please understand this. Although God was surrounded by a myriad of angels, he had limited commonality with them. Angels were created not to be social beings but primarily to be servants, messengers, and on occasion, to conduct warfare. However, aside from being eternal beings they have little in common with God.
Now, Adam was different. He was created in God?s image. (1) Like God he was a sociable. He was also a free will spirit-being. Plus, he was also sinless. In Adam God had His hearts desire; a friend that He could walk with and talk with. He was someone that God could not only commune with but also relate to.
Everything was wonderful for a while. Adam and God walked together in the garden and enjoyed that unique fellowship that only best friends have. Then one dark day tragedy fell on this happy seen. Genesis chapter 3 records how Adam and his wife Eve fell prey to the slick tongue of a fallen angel named Satan. They believed his lie and disobeyed God.
Adam and Eve fell hard! They were no longer flawless. Trust was breached and fellowship was broken, as was God?s heart. Romans 5:12 says,?Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned...?
However, it did?t end there. God is not a quitter! He immediately set a plan into motion. God would break down the dividing wall between Himself and mankind. He would obliterate the sin that caused the rift and would once for all restore that precious fellowship that was lost. In Genesis 3:15, He announced this amazing plan to, of all people, the one responsible for Adam?s fall. He said to Satan, ?... I will put enmity between you and the woman (speaking of Eve), and between your offspring and hers (speaking of Jesus); he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.?
This was the first announcement that a savior was coming. God declared that a man who was a descendent of Eve would one day restore that which sin had destroyed. Yes, Satan would draw first blood and injure him, much like a snake striking at one?s heal, but this Savior would destroy Satan. He would crush Satan?s head! How would this happen?
This plan is what the Bible calls ?the Gospel.? The word gospel literally means ?good news.? It?s found in God?s Word-- The Bible. (2)
Romans 3:23 says, ?for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.? Mankind itself fell when Adam and Eve sinned. For their very nature was changed when sin entered their lives. This fallen nature was then naturally passed on to their descendants. That?s why there?s so much unhappiness in the world, why there?s so much wickedness, hate and deceit. (3)
Jesus declared, ?I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.? (John 3:3) -You will find more about what it is to be ?born again? as you continue to read this.
There are some who may say, ?Huh! Not I! I?m a pretty good person. Oh, I make occasional mistakes but I?m not... sinful.? But God?s word, The Bible, is the final authority and it says it clearly. ?All have sinned (4) and fall short.? It also ask this rhetorical question in Proverbs 20:9, ?Who can say, ?I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin??
What does it meant to fall short of the glory of God? It?s a certain standard that God has set. We all fall short of this standard. Jesus told us what it is in Matthew 5:48, ?Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.? Wow! Be perfect?! I don?t know about you but I could never hit that particular target. In fact, I am painfully aware of how short I fall in my own personal righteousness.
According to Jesus words, to enter into the presence of Holy God one must be as faultless as He is! In order to enter Heaven one must be blameless-- perfect! This would seem to disqualify all of us doesn?t it? (5)
Some may sin less than others; many of us may be honest, decent people. Yet one sin, one unwholesome, thought makes one a sinner nonetheless. Just as one murder makes one a murderer and one burglary makes one a thief. One sin makes one a sinner. James 2:10, speaking of the righteous requirements of God as laid out in The Bible, says,&nbsp; ?For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.? And along with the guilt comes separation from God, and this separation leads to something infinitely unpleasant.
The Bible takes it a step further. Sin carries a penalty with it. Romans 6:23 says, ?For the wages of sin is death... (6)? Ezekiel 18:20,?The soul who sins is the one who will die.?
It?s a terrible thing to be separated from Him with whom you were created to have fellowship. But this separation doesn?t just end in this mortal life. This ?death? continues long after the breath leaves our bodies. In fact it continues on into eternity. Revelation 20:15 speaks of the final destination of sinners. ?If anyone?s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.? The ?lake of fire? is a description of the land of eternal punishment?Hell (7).
You may wonder where does the good news come in? Trust me. There is good news on the way--very good news.
God was faced with a dilemma. He wanted to accept us into His presence and have fellowship with us. But as I said before, He is holy and cannot embrace sin. As a righteous and just god He had to judge sin and punish the guilty. For God to be a ?man of His word? justice had to be served. ?For the wages of sin is death...? What would He do?
God had it all worked out. The way to deal with our sin and to open the way for us to come to God without fear of judgment and condemnation was simple. He needed a scapegoat. (8)
This is a portion of scripture from Isaiah chapter 53. It is a description of the Lord Jesus Christ and his mission on Earth. Amazingly, it?s a prophecy that was written over 700 years before it actually occurred.
Verses 2-12, ?He (speaking of Jesus) grew up before him (speaking of God) like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace (that is peace with God) was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on HIM... the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD?s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. (He will become their scapegoat) Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession (9) for the transgressors.?
This passage from Isaiah 53 contains a concise look at the ?good news.? It?s an unflinching look at the price that was paid in order to remove the sin that separated us from God. Perhaps the best known scripture in The Bible is John 3:16. ?For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.? Again, God needed a scapegoat; one who would be a stand-in for us. He needed someone as spotless as those goats and lambs the High Priest sacrificed. He needed someone who would take it upon himself to endure the penalty for our sins.
This atoning sacrifice (10) would have to be done by someone who was without any sin of his own. Otherwise, he would simply be dying for his own wrongdoing. Jesus, the spotless Son of God, was given the mission to come to this lost and dying world. He was to walk among us demonstrating the love of the Heavenly Father for us. Then ultimately he would lay down his own life on our behalf. He would pay the death penalty for our sin with his very life?s blood.
There?s a true story about two Chinese brothers who lived in turn of the 20th century Chinatown in San Francisco, California that beautifully illustrates what Jesus did. To read this amazing account click here. (11)
Again, Isaiah 53:5 says, ?But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace (with God) was upon him; and with his stripes (the physical punishment He endured ) we are healed (emotionally, physically and spiritually).? Hebrews 2:9 says, ?But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace (12) of God he might taste death for everyone.?
Hebrews 9:28 says, ?so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation (13) to those who are waiting for him.?&nbsp;
Jesus said John 3:16, ?For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.? The next two verses in here continues that thought with these words. Verse 17-18 says,&nbsp; ?For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes (14) in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God?s one and only Son.?
Sin?s penalty was paid when Jesus was nailed to that terrible cross. When He suffered that painful crucifixion (15), justice was served in the eyes of God. Like the good Chinese brother did for his guilty brother by dying in his place; (11) the penalty for our crimes was paid with the shed blood of Jesus. He was the atoning sacrifice that made the way back to the Father. Fellowship was re-established for all of those who would by faith believe and receive the work Christ did on the cross on their behalf.
Furthermore, death was conquered when Jesus bodily rose from the grave three days after his brutal death. Death could not hold him. The grave could not keep him. 1 Peter 3:18 says, ?For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit...?
This passage says basically three things.
Number one: Christ died for our sins. He died in our place. Titus 2:14 speaks of Jesus ?who gave himself for us to redeem (16) us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.?
Next, it says that He was righteous. Jesus was without sin and therefore without guilt. 1 Peter 2:22 declares that ?He (Jesus) committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.? 1 John 3:5, says, ?But you know that he (Jesus) appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.? Being without sin, his death could be the atonement for others rather than a payment for his own sins.
Finally, this verse says that Jesus was made alive by the Spirit. In other words, he bodily rose from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 4:25 declares, ?He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.? (17)
Concerning Jesus resurrection from the dead; all four of the biographies on the life of Jesus in the Bible, referred to as the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, describe in great detail the events surrounding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It?s the most important event in human history and one of the most documented events of the ancient world. In fact, it is said that there is more documented evidence (18) on the resurrection of Christ than there is on any single event in the life of George Washington. The evidence is simply overwhelming!
Why is the resurrection of Christ so important? It?s simple. If Jesus had not risen from the dead he would be just another dead, self-proclaimed prophet. However, his resurrection proved he was all that he claimed to be. By physically raising from the dead, He validated the fact that he is indeed Lord over everything and all that He taught and said was true.
?I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades (the place of the dead).?-- Jesus (Revelation 1:18)
Once for all he demonstrated himself to be Lord over death, hell and the grave. And in so doing, he not only confirmed His personal claims about Himself, but also demonstrated his matchless ability to redeem us. He is therefore more than able to offer us new life, direction and hope.
Colossians 1:19-22 says, ?For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ?s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.?
What a powerful thought--to be free from accusation! Jesus? death and resurrection made this possible. When He took on our blame He paved the way for us to come before God without fear of accusation! Ephesians 3:12 says, ?In him (speaking of Christ) and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.? This is why Jesus could boldly claim in John 14:6, ?I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.? He also said in John 10:9, ?I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.? (19)
Why did Jesus claim to be the only way?--Because He himself made the way. Now, because of his personal sacrifice for our sins we can know God! God is once again free to be friends with us. However, there is one catch. Salvation isn?t automatically applied to one?s life. It?s a choice. One must make the choice to receive this salvation; to receive what Christ did for us. John 1:12 says, ?Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.?
First, this passage says, ?to all who received him.? It?s not enough for one to merely believe the historical data concerning Jesus? life, death and resurrection. One must go beyond a mere intellectual ascent. James 2:19 states, ?You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.? You see, simply aspiring to some intellectual conclusion is not enough. After all, even demons believe the validity of what I?m sharing with you. In fact, they know it to be true! Yet how many demons do you think will make it into Heaven just simply because they believe the facts? I dare say it?s a safe assumption that none will make it.
God says in Deuteronomy 30:19, ?This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.? ?Choose.? God is saying. ?It?s totally up to you.? He has done all He can to make the way back to Him available. He has provided the way, has opened the door. The ball is now in your court. How you respond to the Gospel/Good News is completely up to you.
The truth of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, has been clearly presented. Life and death have been set before you. The choice is in your hands. You must choose to go beyond simply believing the facts and proceed to the place of now embracing this truth and making a commitment (20) of your life to the One who died for you.
The Bible says in James 2:26, ?As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.? Faith, without corresponding actions is not faith at all! It?s an inanimate, lifeless object. There is no evidence to even prove that it?s there. It?s not real faith unless it?s backed up by commitment on your part. Otherwise, it?s bogus!
Sadly, there are many who call Jesus their lord who have never made a true commitment of their lives to Him. There are many who say they are Christians and profess that they have faith, but do they? There are many who claim to believe in Him, but there are no corresponding actions accompanying their claim. Few are willing to put legs on their faith. Few are actually willing to make a commitment of their lives to Him and go beyond mere religion and enter into a relationship with God. It?s only those who make a commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ who will enter Heaven at the end of their life.
How does one receive salvation? It?s not as difficult you may have thought. Let me break it down to you in four simple steps.
First step- Believe the gospel-- the good news. Accept as a fact the historical and Biblical proclamation that Jesus Christ came to Earth to bare your sins and then to die on the cross in your place in order to pay the penalty for your sins. Romans 1:16 says, ?I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes...?
Second Step- Believe the claims Jesus made about himself. He stated in John 8: 24, ?I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.? According to this statement it?s essential to know what Jesus claimed about himself. Do you know what He claimed? Read the Bible, especially The Gospel according to John. Get you a Bible in modern English such as The New International Version, which is the most widely used English translation in print. As you read ask Jesus to reveal himself to you. Guess what? He will!
Third step- You must repent of your sins. Jesus said in Mark 1:15, ?The time has come,? he said. ?The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!? He also said in Luke 13:5, ?... unless you repent, you too will all perish.? To repent means much more than just having remorse or regret over offending God. Indeed, that is part of it but it goes much deeper than that. Repentance is a sincere change of mind. It means to change directions, to turn away from your past life of sin and rebellion and turn toward the ways of God. You do this by renouncing the power that sin had on your life and then in faith turning to God and accepting His forgiveness and His ways. Choose to follow Him. It literally means to put something behind you--to drop it and walk away from it.
I know from experience that this is not an easy thing to do. However, God has promised to give us His personal strength in order to be able do it. Psalm 18:32 ?It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.? God will do it through you. You simply yield to His strength and leading.
Finally the last step- through prayer ask Jesus Christ to come into your life and be your Lord. In other words, make Him your boss. Make a lifetime commitment to follow Him. Again John 1:12 says, ?Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.? Jesus said in Revelation 3:20, ?Here I am! I stand at the door (to your life) and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.?
Even now as I?ve shared this wonderful news with you, you may be sensing something that?s hard for you to explain. It may feel like something or rather someone is stirring inside. Perhaps, you?re experiencing emotions that you thought were gone or at least lay dormant. What you feel, my friend, is Jesus knocking on the door to your heart; that is your inner self where the real you lives. He wants access to that person that you?ve kept hidden so well for so long.
Now, if He?s knocking that can mean only one thing. He wants to come in. It?s up to you to open the door and invite him in. It?s completely up to you. Jesus is a gentleman. The Bible in John 10:11 calls him the ?good shepherd.? He is gentle and kind and will never force his way through the door to your life. He won?t try to pick the lock or bust the door down. He simply waits at the door and politely knocks. The decision to open the door is left entirely up to you. As I said earlier, the ball is in your court. The choice is up to you!
Do you sense him knocking at the door of your life right now? Jesus said in John 6:44, ?No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.? You see God, the loving Father, is drawing you. He?s speaking ever so softly to your heart and saying, ?Now?s the time. This is why I created you. I want you to know me. I want us to be friends.? Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, ?Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (21).? He said in John 6:37, ?All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.?
Will you right now come to Jesus? Will you open the door and ask him into your life? You can you know? Like I said it?s up to you. Pray right now and ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life, ask Him to forgive you, change your life and to give you hope, joy and peace? He will do it if you sincerely ask Him. Why wait any longer? Make your commitment to him right now. There?s is no escaping Hell or entering Heaven without making that commitment! There?s no other way!
I can?t stress this enough. You?ve got to mean business with Him. Ready? OK. Just pray a prayer similar to this.
?Lord God. I know that I?m a sinner. I know that I can?t save myself. I know that I need a savior. I believe that Jesus gave his life for me in order to make a way to you. Please forgive me for all my wrong doings. Cleanse me from my sins. I repent of my past and gratefully claim your forgiveness. I now choose to follow you for the rest of my life. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Fill me with your Spirit. With your help I?m going to serve you and seek to know you. I will also tell others about you every chance that I get. Thank you for hearing my prayer and thank you for saving me. Thank you for forgiving me and thank you for giving me new life. In Jesus name, Amen.?
Will you please email me and tell me of your decision to follow Christ? I would love to hear from you. I?ll write you back and send you some helpful materials to get you started in your new life. Or if you haven?t made a decision to follow Christ yet and have some questions, don't hesitate to contact me here at J103.
God bless you and don?t forget, we love you and are praying for you.
Chaplain Rod Davis SoaringWings Ministries
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