2. The Gospel
The gospel is the Person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God: He is the Good News. He is salvation. It is the literal presence of the Savior in a person which saves them. If you have the Savior you are saved. He is the eternal Son of God, fully God and fully Man. He was sent down from heaven by His Father and He became a Man so that He could suffer death on the Cross on behalf of all men: God became a Man to bear the penalty of man, to die the one Man for all men: on the Cross He died the most horrendous death imaginable and was dead for three days and nights and then God the Father raised Him from the dead, and all who truly repent and believe on Him have eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, according to His promise.
For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
What’s it like to be lost?
At the time of writing this book it’s been twenty six years since Jesus saved me, and I can barely remember what it’s like to be lost, but I do remember something of what it was like, it was not good, to put it mildly.
Being lost can parallel quite close to the experience you may have had as a child when you actually did get lost somewhere, either in a department store or a forest; regardless of the location, it was not nice. As a child, then, the key element to your “lost-ness” was that you were lost in relation to your mom or dad. All that mattered to you was that you make contact with them. Your experience of being in a place of total disconnection from them is what you experienced as “lost-ness”. It is a place of desolation, despair and no hope. But when mom or dad finds you, then where you are is now irrelevant, you are “home”, you are found. Salvation is similar to this because it relates totally to the Person of Jesus Christ: If you are disconnected from this Person you are lost, and if you are connected to Him you are saved. That’s why lost people are desolate and despair and have no hope, and why saved people have life, love, hope and joy.
Repentance and Faith
God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9b
Salvation is described here as coming to repentance. All must come to Him on His terms.
…Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 20:21b
Then, if it is faith which pleases God and makes us acceptable to Him, and it was our unbelief or lack of faith which displeased God and separated us from Him; then, in that order, we repent of our unbelief and believe: repentance and faith, in that order.
We see our unbelieving heart as the root of our wickedness and therefore we repent that we did not believe in God’s love for us thru The Cross and that we didn’t believe that Jesus suffered in our place, and then accordingly we repent of the sins we committed because we did not believe. It’s to repent of having a wicked, unbelieving heart and to have faith in Jesus Christ. Only the repentant heart can trust Him for salvation.
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. Hebrews 3:12
Therefore: Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
God …now commands all men everywhere to repent: Because He has appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He has ordained; and of this He has given assurance unto all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead. Acts 17:30-31
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord. Isaiah: 55:7
Which things must we repent of?
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance–as I told you before–that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.Gal. 5:19-21
For this you know, that no fornicator, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Eph. 5:5
Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 1 Cor. 6:9-10
Repentance is a great step of faith and trust. It’s a step into the unknown. It’s a complete abandoning and surrender of yourself into the hands of the Living God to take you where you’ve never been before. It’s a turning over of your life to Him, like handing over the reins, letting Him take the wheel. It’s like a soldier who lays down his arms, surrenders and gives up the fight. It’s like jumping out of a plane which is on fire and Jesus alone is your parachute. True repentance is the essential expression of faith.
Sin is worship of the devil by default
If you sin willfully you yield your soul in worship to the one who is tempting you to sin, the devil, and you are offering your body to him, and then your body will be his temple, his habitation. The gospel tells us that it’s either Jesus or satan who has ownership of people’s souls – it’s a choice between two masters, there’s no third option. Who will have your soul? To whom will you yield your life and obey, Jesus or satan?
Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Rom. 6:16
…To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them who are sanctified by faith that is in me. Acts 26:18
Then what life can anyone have without Jesus? Life is merely a futile existence without Jesus Christ. In fact it is not even a life, for whoever does not have Jesus Christ does not have life; they are still dead in their sins:
And this is the witness, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life. 1 John 5:11-12
Salvation is to have the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and you have Him the moment you truly repent and believe on Him. Take Him by faith; your faith is your righteousness, as God counts your faith as righteousness (Rom. 4:5). God counts us as not guilty and brings us into right standing with Him though our faith in His Son: the righteousness of His Son is credited to us when we believe (1 Cor. 1:30). (Faith is not a work, it is a gift: faith comes by hearing)
By faith in Jesus Christ we are saved from our sins and our sin nature, forgiven of our sins, and made a new creation, made a child of God and saved from the punishment of our sins, which is eternal separation from God and torment in hell forever, and if we continue in the faith He will take us up into glory to a home He has prepared for those who love Him to be with Him forever and He will wipe away all the tears from our eyes (Rev. 21:4).
Jesus commanded us to be baptized in water when we believe (Mark 16:16, Matt. 28:19). Those who truly believe get baptized. The water baptism doesn’t save or regenerate, but it is done out of obedience to Jesus as a testimony of our faith in Him and thus it is a sign indicating to both God and the Church whether we are disciples of Jesus or not. In the early Church no one was considered a Christian without water baptism, and if anyone refused baptism then their testimony was not believed. When Jesus sees that a “believer” refuses to be baptized then He probably doesn’t believe their testimony either. It comes down to that. The dying thief on the cross next to Jesus couldn’t get baptized and yet he was saved, Jesus said. And there’s many such people who get saved just before they die who are unable to get baptized. But they would if they could.
The eternal sign of redeeming love
And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds between your hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. Zech. 13:6
When we get to glory the most poignant and heart-wrenching scene which will confront us is when we see Jesus and He reaches out His hands to us and we see the gaping holes in His wrists. For eternity whenever we see Jesus it’s the holes in His hands and feet which will forever keep us aware of the centrality of the Cross and how it manifests to us the amazing, infinite redeeming love of God in that He bore our sins in His own body on the Cross.
Will you speak to Him now, LORD Jesus, you endured the suffering of the Cross for me? You were willing to do that for me?
We must believe in His love, that indeed He loved us enough to lay down His life for us, and we must believe that He paid for our sins once and for all on the Cross.
Cause and effect
For every effect there is a cause. The cause of righteousness is Jesus Christ: Jesus is the cause, and, righteousness, love, peace and joy is the effect. The “other gospels” are where the true cause and source is bypassed, and man, himself, becomes the cause or the source. Any other gospel is like trying to be justified by the law, it is futile. The offense of the Cross (Gal. 5:11) is that man cannot be the source of anything good, for if man is his own source of goodness then Christ died in vain, as a fool (Gal. 2:21).
For there is not a good tree that produces corrupt fruit, nor a corrupt
tree that produces good fruit. For each tree is known from its own fruit. For they do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. The good man brings forth the good thing out of the good treasure of his heart. And the evil man brings forth the evil thing out of the evil treasure of his heart, for his mouth speaks out of the abundance of his heart. Luke 6:43-45
Here, justification by faith and the new birth is revealed. An apple tree bears apples because it is an apple tree. It is first an apple tree, and then it bears fruit after its kind. A pear tree can’t produce apples by trying to produce apples. And no matter how hard a pig tries to copy a sheep it will remain a pig, unless it could be recreated into a new creature…
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Cor. 5:17
The reason the true Gospel is becoming increasingly unpopular, and humanistic “gospels” are increasing in popularity is that no one wants to die. The offense of the Cross is that you die to your pride and you glory in another. You have nothing to be proud of or boast about or take credit for, and no basis to receive praise, glory and honor from man, except to boast in the Cross of Calvary (Gal. 6:14).
Believe and God will do the work
You believe in Jesus and then you act according to your belief in Him, which is called the obedience of faith. You believe in Jesus and then act upon what you believe, you obey, and then you find that God does the work. But He won’t do it unless we do it, because our doing is simply the fruit of our faith. You can only tell what people believe by what they do and not by their words alone.
The Gospel says that if you will believe that Jesus can and will save you then He will. He will do it. You just have to believe He will do it. The believing heart then is a repentant heart for it is a heart which can yield in repentance to Jesus because it believes that He will give the power to repent and the victory over sin. This new heart then takes steps of faith as it is emboldened to lay hold of the promises of God.
To be in Christ is to be in the Savior and hence in salvation, for He is our salvation. It’s the indwelling presence of the Savior which saves, the indwelling of the Justifier which justifies and the indwelling of the Deliverer which delivers. He is the Redeemer who redeems, the Victor who gives the victory, the Healer who heals, the Sanctifier who sanctifies and the Teacher who teaches. His name is Jesus. He is the Light who lights our way.
And of Him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption… 1 Cor. 1:30
Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. John 15:3
Unclean sinners are instantly made clean in the sight of God when they believe the words of Jesus. Our sins made us unclean in God’s sight. The precious shed Blood of Christ, His substitutionary death, removes our sins and makes us clean in the sight of God when we repent and believe it to be so.
The disciples believed Jesus when He spoke to them and gave them His precious promises, and on that basis He said that it is the word which they have believed and received which has made them clean. And it is the same today. Salvation is when the unclean are made clean by believing Jesus Christ.