The word "Gospel" means "Good News." Since we can never come into God's presence in our sins, God sent Jesus to die for our sins, and then raised Him from the dead on the third day.
Moreover brethren, I declare unto you the gospel... that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures. — 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
THE GOSPEL IS THAT CHRIST DIED FOR OUR SINS AND ROSE AGAIN FROM THE DEAD.
JESUS TORE DOWN THE BARRIER OF SIN BY DYING FOR OUR SINS, AND RISING AGAIN FROM THE DEAD.
Many people truly believe that Jesus died and rose again from the dead, but what does the Bible mean when it says that Jesus died "for our sins?" How did His death tear down the barrier between God and man?
Step 1: Imputation
CHRIST TOOK OUR SINS UPON HIMSELF
The first step in the redemption of mankind was for Jesus Christ to bear the sins of the world in His body on the cross. When Jesus hung on the cross, God took all the sins of the world (past, present and future) and placed ("imputed") them onto Christ.
And the Lord has laid on Him [Jesus] the iniquity [sin] of us all. — Isaiah 53:6
Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree. — 1 Peter 2:24
For He [God the Father] made Him Who knew no sin [Jesus] to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. — 2 Corinthians 5:21
Since God must punish sin, who would God now have to punish?
Step 2: Substitution
CHRIST DIED IN OUR PLACE
Since God must punish sin, He poured out His wrath upon Jesus in our place. Jesus became our "substitute." He was punished for our sins, and died in our place.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him. — Isaiah 53:5
And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying... "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" — Matthew 27:46
Step 3: Satisfaction (Propitiation)
CHRIST'S DEATH PAID IN FULL FOR OUR SINS, THEREBY SATISFYING GOD'S ANGER AND JUSTICE.
Since Jesus died in our place for our sins, God's justice was satisfied. Jesus paid for all man's sins, so any man who chooses to accept that payment will never have to experience the eternal wrath of God which must come upon all man's sins.
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You [God the Father] make His [Jesus'] soul an offering for sin . . . He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. — Isaiah 53:10-11
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!," and bowing His head, He gave up His Spirit. — John 19:30
The phrase "It is finished" was actually an expression used in Rome in the time of Christ when a debt had been paid in full (Kittel, vol. VIII, pp. 57, 60). When Jesus shouted this just before He died, He was indicating that He had made a perfect, complete and final payment for sin. (Also see Colossians 2:13-14).
THUS, JESUS HAS TORN DOWN THE BARRIER BETWEEN GOD AND MAN BY PAYING FOR OUR SINS THROUGH HIS OWN DEATH ON THE CROSS.
How can Jesus' death be so valuable that it can pay not only for all of your sins, but for all the sins of all men of all ages?
It is because . . .
Jesus Is God
Jesus is God! He is eternally equal in every way with the Father! He simply became man so He could die for our sins, but He never stopped being God!
And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him,
"Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are
those who have not seen and yet have believed." — John 20:28-29
(Also see John 1:1, John 8:58-59 (c.f. Exodus 3:13-14); John 10:30; 1 Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13; Colossians 2:2; Hebrews 1:8).
Those who deny the divinity of Jesus will receive eternal condemnation. Jesus said:
And He said to them, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." — John 8:23-24
(Also see John 11:25-27, 20:31; Acts 9:20; 16:30-31; 1 John 5:13)
WHY DID GOD BECOME A MAN?
In the section explaining Separation from God, we learned that because God is infinitely Holy, even the smallest sin is infinitely offensive to Him. As a result, an infinite payment must be made for the sins of each and every person. Now there are two ways by which an infinite payment can be offered: a finite person could suffer God's wrath for an infinite period of time, or an infinite person could suffer God's wrath for a finite period of time. Both yield an infinite payment for sin.
1. Man, who is finite, would therefore have to suffer God's wrath for infinity if he were to pay for his own sins. That is why hell is eternal.
2. Jesus Christ, the infinite God in human form, would have to suffer God's wrath for a finite amount of time. Since He is God, the suffering He endured on the cross was a sacrifice of infinite value. Therefore, His death made available the infinite payment necessary to pay for the sins of all men throughout all ages.
An infinite payment must be made for every man's sins. God allows each person to decide which payment plan he prefers... Jesus Christ or eternity in hell.
Grace: A Free Gift
The word "grace" means something which is given freely... without cost or obligation. For example, if your best friend offered you a gift and you tried to pay him for it, could you still call it a gift? Of course not! It becomes a debt which he owes you the moment he accepts your money! Your friend would probably be insulted, withdraw the gift and say: "I'm not giving this to you because I have to. It is a gift. Do you accept my gift or not?"
A GIFT: THE MOMENT YOU OFFER SOMETHING IN EXCHANGE FOR IT, IT IS NO LONGER A GIFT. IT BECOMES A DEBT!
Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. — Romans 4:4
Only when you put your money back in your pocket and stretched forth your empty hand would he renew his offer and extend the gift to you.
The same is true with God's offer of eternal life. People try to purchase eternal life by obeying the Ten Commandments, living a good life, going to church, or some other religious work. But God will not make Himself a debtor to any man! He does not "owe" eternal life to anyone. He will offer it only as a gift!
Grace: It Must Be Free
When man attempts to gain eternal life through his own works, he is no longer accepting God's offer of eternal life as a free gift, that is, by "grace."
But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. — Romans 11:6b
Yet it is only by His "grace" that God will save us!
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. — Ephesians 2:8-9
Therefore, Scripture teaches that God withdraws the offer of eternal life from anyone who tries to earn it through their works, thus degrading God by seeking to make Him a debtor to sinful man.
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. — Galatians 5:4
GOD OFFERS ETERNAL LIFE AS A FREE GIFT. WE MUST EITHER ACCEPT IT AS A FREE GIFT, OR NOT AT ALL.
Therefore, to attempt to gain eternal life through the works of the law is to reject the only way in which God offers eternal life, that is, by His grace! And when a man rejects God's gracious offer of eternal life, he is freely choosing to face eternal condemnation.
REPENTANCE IS PROBABLY THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD WORD IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
WHAT SAVING REPENTANCE IS NOT:
Saving repentance has absolutely nothing to do with regretting your sins or resolving to turn from them. God is willing to save you just the way you are. The Bible says:
- Saving repentance is not being sorry for your sins.
- Saving repentance is not turning from your sins or reforming your life.
- Saving repentance is not the willingness to turn your life over to God so that He can direct your path.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. — Romans 5:8
WHAT SAVING REPENTANCE IS:
SAVING REPENTANCE IS TO STOP TRUSTING IN GAINING ETERNAL LIFE THROUGH RELIGION, RELIGIOUS RITUALS, OR OBEDIENCE TO GOD'S LAWS.
The word "repent" comes from the Greek word which means "to change one's mind." Those who believe that eternal life can be earned through good works are commanded in Scripture to change their mind or "repent." They are told to stop trusting in their works, and come to God on the basis of grace through faith alone.
In Matthew 3:7-9 some religious men believed that they were going to heaven because they were descendents of Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. God Himself had chosen the Jewish people and established their religion. These men believed that because they were of the right religion that they would go to heaven. John the Baptist told them that they must repent. That is, they must stop trusting in their religion to get them to heaven.
Luke 13:1-5 tells of a tower in Jerusalem that collapsed and killed 18 people. The Jewish mind searched for an answer for this tragedy. They realized that only God can know the secret thoughts and deeds of another man. Perhaps then, they reasoned, those 18 persons on whom the tower of Siloam fell were actually the 18 worst sinners in all Jerusalem. God could have gathered them together at the appointed time and place to execute his righteous judgment. This however would mean that only the very worst sinners are worthy of God's judgment. The rest of Jerusalem (those who had not been killed by the falling tower) had apparently led good enough lives that they were not under God's judgment. To believe this sort of reasoning, however, is to believe that salvation is earned by the works of the law. Jesus warned those who believed this way that they were facing eternal condemnation. He commanded them to repent - to abandon all hope of securing a right standing before God by the works of the law, and trust in God alone for their salvation.
In Hebrews 9:9-14 the Bible calls sacraments or religious rituals through which men try to reach God "dead works." A few chapters earlier, the same author tells us in Hebrews 6:1 that the "foundation" of the Christian faith is "repentance from dead works and faith towards God." That is to say, one must stop trusting in "dead works" (i.e. religious rituals, sacraments, etc.) before he can exercise a genuine saving faith in God.
The Biblical command is clear. If a man believes that his religion will get him to heaven, he must repent, (Matthew 3:7-9). If he believes that obeying the laws of God are necessary to get him to heaven, he must repent (Luke 13:1-5). And if he believes that he must perform some religious ritual or sacrament to be saved, he must repent, and stop trusting in any of those things to save him (Hebrews 6:1). Like the man in the picture in the section Grace: A Free Gift, he must put his "money" back in is pocket and accept eternal life as a free gift!
Faith in Jesus will not save you if, while believing that Jesus died for your sins, you also believe that you must be baptized, go to church, or obey the Ten Commandments to "help" get you to heaven. You cannot simply add Jesus to a long list of other things that you must do or be to get to heaven. You must utterly reject all of those other things as having no saving value whatsoever and trust in Jesus Christ alone.
IF FAITH IS THE HAND THAT ACCEPTS SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, REPENTANCE IS THE HAND THAT REJECTS SALVATION BY ANY OTHER MEANS.
Saving faith does not simply affirm that Jesus' death is "necessary," it must affirm that His death is enough! That it is sufficient all by itself to pay for your sins apart from any human effort or good work, and that it is a free gift available only through faith, and apart from any human effort or good work. (See Galatians 2:21, 3:10-14, 5:1-5).
Go back to the Three Questions. What was your answer to "why God should let you into heaven?" If you said you must be baptized, live a good life, or anything else other than simply trusting in Jesus, you must repent. You must stop trusting in any religious things you have done in the past or might do in the future, and trust on Christ alone.
To Summarize Then:
Since sin separates man from God, and since Jesus paid for our sins at the cross, man can have a relationship with God only through Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. — John 14:6
Have you ever believed that living up to some standard of goodness or performing some religious ordinance was necessary to go to heaven?
Are you still trusting in those things to save you?
Do you understand what Jesus did at the cross for you? Could you explain it in your own words right now?
Has anyone ever explained it to you in this way before?
Right now, in the best way you know how, are you trusting in what Jesus has done on the cross for you as being all you will ever need to take away your sins and assure you a place in heaven?
[Continue to the Wrong Responses]