The Gospel is not a plan, it is a Person. The Gospel is about who Jesus is and what Jesus accomplished in His life, death, and resurrection. For us to understand the Gospel we must first understand a few things about God, His law, and our relationship to Him.
The Gospel begins with who God is. God is the Creator of everything and He owns everything (Gen 1:1; Psa 24:1). Because God is the Creator and owns everything, we, His creatures are accountable to Him whether we want to acknowledge His existence or not. We are all under His authority as Creator.
God is perfectly holy (Mat 5:48), righteous, loving, and just. Because of His holiness, He requires perfect obedience to His righteous law (James 2:10). Just as a good human judge will punish a murderer, God will not let those who have sinned against Him by breaking His law, go unpunished. Think of God’s law as a perfect sheet of glass. If you break just one of God’s laws, even something as simple as telling a lie, you have in effect become guilty of breaking the whole law. For one violation of the law is like throwing a rock that shatters the seamless piece of glass.
Once we have an understanding of God’s holiness and what He requires, we can now look at who we are. All of mankind, you, me, our next door neighbor, stands guilty for breaking God’s just law (Rom 3:10, 23). And God’s Word tells us that the penalty for violating God’s law is eternal punishment. Hell is not a place where all the cool people go. Hell is a very real place, and it is a place of eternal punishment for sinning against the Creator. All who break God’s law will pay the eternal penalty for sin (Rom 6:23).
As we look at God’s perfect standard, our clear violation of God’s law and the just penalty, it’s important to note that we cannot save ourselves by our good works (Titus 3:5; Isa 64:6; Eph 2:8-9). This is important, because most religions come down to your good outweighing the bad. But as we’ve seen, if you break just one of God’s laws, then you stand guilty before a perfectly holy and righteous Judge.
No amount of good works can ever out weigh sinning against God. Just as a righteous human judge would not let you go unpunished for committing murder simply because you gave to the poor or did some other good deed, how much more a perfectly holy God will not let evil go unpunished. We all stand guilty and face the eternal punishment and no amount of good works, or good behavior can ever change that fact.
Now, that is the reality, as bleak as that may sound but please keep in mind, that this is not simply my opinion, this is what God has said about Himself and about mankind. But there is more, there is good news, and that is what the word “Gospel” means, good news.
The good news is that Jesus Christ came to earth as both God and sinless man (Col 2:9). Because of God’s steadfast love, because He is gracious and merciful, He provided a way for us to be reconciled to Himself, to stand forgiven before Him in the Person and Work of His Son, Jesus Christ.
And Jesus demonstrated God’s steadfast love by dying on the cross to pay sin’s penalty (Rom 5:8; 2 Cor 5:21). You see, Jesus came to earth as God and as sinless man. He lived the perfect sinless life that we could not live. He was completely obedient to the Father and He endured sin’s penalty in our place as our substitute. He died on the cross and endured the righteous wrath of God and was buried. But once again, that is not where the story ends.
Jesus rose from the grave on the 3rd day and is alive today (1Cor 15:4) and is sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for those who put their faith and trust in Him. Because God raised Jesus on the 3rd day means that His perfect sacrifice for sin’s penalty was acceptable. The penalty has been paid in full, once and for all, for those who are in Christ. So what does that mean for man, for sinners, for us who stand guilty of violating God’s perfect law? It means that we must repent of everything that dishonors God (Isa 55:7; Luk 9:23). Repentance means that we look at our lives, we look at who God is and what He requires and we see that we cannot save ourselves. We have all sinned against a holy, righteous, just God and deserve His righteous judgment. And we repent; we turn away from our sinful lifestyle and ask for God’s forgiveness on the basis of the person and work of Jesus Christ. We not only confess our faith in Him, in His sacrifice, in His resurrection (his being raised on the 3rd day), in His righteousness being given (imputed) to us; we not only confess this, but we believe this in our hearts.
If you do this, if you believe this, if you confess this, you will be saved. You will be reconciled to God and be able to stand before Him in the righteousness of Jesus. That is the good news. And you will spend eternity with God.
So, let me recap this. What we see now, is that the Father, God, executes His perfect judgment on sin in the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son (Jesus dying in our place), as He suffered the wrath that we deserve. Because it was in full accordance with His righteousness, we know that it was fully effective for our salvation. How do we know? Because Jesus rose again on the 3rd day and is now sitting at the right hand of the Father.
God did not cancel the penalty, this is so important. He did not cancel the penalty, He demanded the penalty. He did not cancel the penalty; He condemned the sin in the flesh of Jesus. Let me take that even further. He did not cancel the penalty; He provided the payment for the penalty in His Son. The requirement of the law is now, by the imputed righteousness of His Son fulfilled in us. This means His righteousness is given to those who believe in Him. How completely amazing. This is the good news. We can be forgiven and stand reconciled before God and not because of anything we ever did or ever will do, but because of what Jesus Christ did.
The Son became the substitute. Christ Jesus, the Lord and Savior condescended and became our substitute and completely satisfied the righteous requirement of the law on our behalf. He lived a perfect, sinless life, in submission to the law, in perfect submission to the Father. And by the Father laying on Him the penalty, the condemnation that we deserve because of our rebellion, the righteous obedience that Christ Jesus lived is now transferred (imputed) to those who believe in His Holy Name. It’s not what we’ve done, it is what He has done. It’s through faith in Jesus that this is accomplished.
Putting your faith in Jesus means more than saying a prayer and going back to life as usual. It means counting the cost and repenting, which is turning away from your old lifestyle, asking for God’s forgiveness and seeking to live an obedient life to Him as revealed in His Word, the Bible.
So, now that you know about who God is, and who man is, and who Jesus is, and what man must do to be reconciled to God, the only question is; “Will you repent and believe in Christ?”