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What is the Gospel?


God created man and woman in His image:

Gen 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

To be created in God's image means to have God's likeness, but without His deity. The Bible says that Christ is the image of God:

2 Cor 4:4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

God created Adam and Eve spiritually alive. They were in harmony with God. God was to provide every basic human need for them. Continual fellowship with the Father was to be their joy. God had given them everything they needed for complete fulfillment. He cared for them as a loving mother would for her newborn baby.

Satan hated Adam and Eve. Because Satan had rebelled against God, and is all about death, he became intensely jealous when he saw that God had lovingly created a being in His own image, filled with spiritual Life. To maintain fellowship with God, and spiritual Life, Adam and Eve had to live in total dependence on God. Therefore Satan wanted to trick Adam and Eve into rebelling against God, seeking independence of Him, just as he had done, so that they would die spiritually. God had told Adam:

Gen 2:16,17 "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."

Satan lied to Eve about the tree of the knowledge to good and evil, saying "in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God." Eve fell for it, and Adam with her, picking from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in an attempt to live independent of God--in control, on their own--and to seek fulfillment apart from Him. You could think of "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" as "the tree of independence, self-sufficiency, and rebellion."

Gen 3:1-7 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" 2 The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" 4 The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! 5 "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

Adam and Eve didn't die physically the same day that they ate of the treeóthey died spiritually. Their spiritual death became immediately evident. They realized that they were naked; they were afraid of God and hid from Him. Their sin had separated them from God. Notice the immediate change in Adam and Eve:

Before: God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." 29 Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so. 31 God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good (Gen 1:25-31). And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed (Gen 2:25).

After: When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. 8 They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" 10 He said, "I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself." 11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" 12 The man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And the woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate" (Gen 3:6-13).

All human dysfunction can be traced back to this point--when the human race died spiritually and became separated from God. We were designed to be filled with the Spirit of God and to have continual fellowship with Him--to be in touch with our Creator. God was supposed to be the center of our work and relationships. We were designed to get our contentment and fulfillment from Him. Without the Spirit of God in us, we are dysfunctional, like a two-legged table.

All of us inherited spiritual death from Adam. All people are born spiritually dead.

Rom 5:12 Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. ("Adam," in brackets, was added for clarification.)

In addition to having been born spiritually dead, each of us has had sinful thoughts, words, and deeds during our lifetime. No person is worthy of Godís kingdom:

Rom 3:23,24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

God is perfectly holy, righteous, and just. He cannot allow humans, who all have sin of some sort, to enter His holy kingdom and have fellowship with Him. Thus sin separates us from God. It keeps us under His wrath. It keeps us out of heaven. Sin also prevents us from having a relationship with God, robbing us of joy and contentment.

Isa 59:2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

To summarize, the problem for every person is that we are born spiritually dead and are separated from God by sin. We cannot enter heaven on our own merits. Without Godís Spirit in us, we are dysfunctional. The good news is that God has provided a solution to the problem. In fact, the word Gospel means good news.  Below is the good news. Keep reading.

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The good news

God provided the perfect sacrifice--Jesus Christ, God the Son--as a payment for the sin of all people. Jesus Christ is a gift, given by the perfectly just and perfectly loving God. Forgiveness is appropriated to the person who acknowledges his need for the gift, and receives Christ.

All of us are guilty before God. The charge is sin. The penalty is deathóseparation from God forever. We can plead either guilty or innocent. If we plead innocent, we are judged on our thoughts, words, and actions. If we plead guilty, and ask for mercy through Christ, Christís death on the cross is accepted by God the Father as payment of our death penalty. We go free because Christ paid our debt. This is why the Bible describes Christ as a gift. Like any gift, we do not need to earn it; indeed we canít. We merely receive it and say "thank you."

Rom 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus

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

Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Those who place their trust in Christ are guilty of wrongdoing and deserve hell. But God the Judge sets us free because Jesus--the Judge's own Son--sat in the electric chair on our behalf. The Judge's Son bore the death penalty for us. Although we are guilty, we receive mercy and forgiveness. What's more, the charges are completely erased from our record, as though we were innocent to begin with. The charges are nailed to the cross of Christ:

Col 2:13,14 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Picture God's perfect righteousness and justice on one side of a huge canyon, and human sinfulness on the other. Somehow each person needs to get to God, but gravity stands in the way--nobody can fly across the canyon. Jesus Christ is like a bridge extending across the canyon. The absolute truth of gravity still exists, but if we entrust our lives to Christ (walk across the bridge), each of us can have access to God, be accepted by Him, and receive spiritual life.

1 Pet 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God

1 Tim 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

Jesus not only provides the way to forgiveness for sin, but also gives us spiritual life, satisfying the discontentment of our hearts, and providing victory over dysfunctional behavior and relationships. Think of a human as a glass. When God created Adam and Eve, they were right-side-up glasses, filled with His Spirit. But when they rebelled against God, they died spiritually, and the glass was turned upside down. From that point on, humans have felt and experienced the emptiness of a glass that's upside down. Trying to force things into the glass won't work. What's needed is to turn the glass right-side-up so that it can be filled with God's Spirit.

There is nothing a person can do to earn back God's Spirit. God can not fill a dirty vessel. Through Jesus Christ, however, God provided a way for us to be forgiven of sin and restored with His Spirit. Jesus has paid the penalty for sin for every person who is willing to receive the payoff as a gift. When we admit our need for God, and receive Christ as God's gift to us, we are turned right-side-up, ready to be filled by the Spirit of Christ.

The gift of Christ is for every person who is willing to receive it. No person has committed acts too horrible for God to forgive through Christ. Christ has paid for it all. In fact, no person has any righteousness to offer God, so donít be deceived into thinking that you must clean up your life before you receive Christ. You canít. Ask Christ into your life; He will make you new:

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

In sum, the Gospel--the good news--is that, through Jesus Christ, each person can be forgiven of sin, brought into fellowship with God, and filled with the Godís Spirit for newness of life. Thus the Gospel can be stated in just two words: Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself is the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

1 John 4:9,10 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

 

Related topics:

What is salvation?

What is the difference between Christianity and other beliefs?

What's wrong with believing in God without believing that Jesus Christ is one and equal with God?

What is a real Christian?

How good does one have to be to go to heaven?

How does one become a Christian?

How can one change bad habits?

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