What is the Gospel?
When God created the world, it was good. He made everything: the earth and sky, the plants, the animals, and the first people, Adam and Eve. They had a perfect relationship with God and enjoyed talking to him openly and freely.
Sadly, Adam and Eve disobeyed a command God had given them. When they disobeyed (which is also called “sinning,”) their perfect relationship with God was broken. Now, they suffered pain, shame, and death for the first time, and their children also inherited their sinful natures. Every person after them, including us, inherited those sinful natures, and each of us experiences pain, shame, and death, too, as a penalty for sin.
But God didn’t leave them – or us – without hope. Even when Adam and Eve sinned, God promised that one day, he would send someone who would bring an end to sin. For generations, God continued to show faithful love to his people, even when they continued to disobey and forget him. And because God is, by nature, faithful, trustworthy, and good, he continued to hold to that promise that he would restore the relationship fully one day and bring an end to sin forever.
People often tried to end sin themselves, trying to do enough good things or make lots of rules to avoid sinning, but this is impossible. The sin in our hearts goes so deep that we can never get rid of it on our own. At the same time, God is so perfect and holy that even one sin is a blemish that is too great in comparison to his perfection. He is a God of justice, so he cannot simply ignore sin; it has to be paid for in some way.
Finally, God revealed his plan to defeat sin forever. God sent his son, Jesus, to the earth. Jesus is fully God, but he also became fully human, like us. He came as a tiny baby, born into a Jewish family in the Middle East. Jesus grew up as an ordinary Jewish boy, learning and growing, but with one difference – he never sinned. As an adult, he began teaching others about God’s kingdom, and although countless people followed him, he also made some people very angry. They did not like to hear about their own sin and that God wanted people to follow him with pure hearts, not just following some outward rules. The Jewish leaders decided to have Jesus killed.
Jesus, being all-powerful God, could have stopped them in a moment, but he chose to give his life. Because Jesus was perfect, without sin, he did not deserve death. Unlike all other humans, he did not have to take the penalty of sin, but he chose to – for us. When Jesus was put to death on a cross, he – God himself – took the punishment for all of our sins. Three days after his death, he defeated death forever, rising from the grave in life again! Jesus broke the curse of sin forever in dying and rising from the dead.
We still cannot do any good things to earn salvation, but God has made a way for us to be in relationship with him again, and that is through faith in Jesus. Faith means that we trust and believe that Jesus is who he said he is and that he did what he said he did. If we believe that Jesus is God and that he died on the cross to pay for our sins and rose again from the grave, this faith brings us into a new relationship with God. We confess our sins to God – all of the ways we have disobeyed against him – and he forgives those sins because of Jesus’s blood given on our behalf. This free gift is called grace; we cannot earn it, but it is given in love to us.
This is good news! That is the meaning of the word “gospel” that we often use to explain these truths. Through Jesus, we are again accepted into full relationship with God and our sins are forgiven. When we truly have this faith, God helps us to want to live for him, instead of sinning and rebelling against him. We start new lives trusting and obeying God. God sends his Holy Spirit to live inside of our hearts and make us new. Instead of shame and fear and running away from God, we now have God living inside of us and helping us to love and serve him! When we love God and follow him, we gladly begin to choose to turn away from sin and live for him instead.
The promise of God’s defeat of death does not mean that our physical bodies will not die, but it does mean that we will have eternal life with him. We see death in our world every day, but now we know that this is not the end. Those who do not choose to love and follow God will die and be separated from him forever in pain and sorrow, experiencing the result of sin. But for those who trust in Jesus to pay for their sins, God promises to take us to live with him for eternity. He will give us new bodies that are not broken by sin anymore and we will enjoy relationship with him forever!
Do you trust in Jesus? Do you have this hope for this life and for all eternity? If not, or if you’re not sure, we would love to talk with you. Please reach out to one of the churches in Link2Hope, or contact us directly. It is a privilege to be able to share more about this good news of Jesus.
If we believe that Jesus is God and that he died on the cross to pay for our sins and rose again from the grave, this faith brings us into a new relationship with God. This is good news!