What is the Gospel?
God created man and woman in His image:
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:
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:
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."
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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."
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:
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.
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:
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.
"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.