The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. It is news, not advice, because it is all about what God has done to rescue us and ultimately renew the entire created world. It is not like religion, which says, “I must obey to be accepted by God.” Rather, it is all about what God has done for us in Christ Jesus—”I am accepted by God, therefore I obey.” Here’s why we need the gospel:
God is holy. We are sinful.
The Triune God—the holy, righteous, sovereign ruler of all—created this world and all that is in it for his glory. Man, as created in God’s image, was given a unique role, being able to have fellowship with this personal God, to love, serve, and enjoy Him. But because of man’s rebellion against God, because of our sin, that fellowship was separated and it affected all of creation. And because of that first act of disobedience, we all are born into sin (Genesis 1-3, Romans 5:12-19). We are fallen creatures, living in a fallen world. This doesn’t mean we are incapable of performing acts of kindness, but it does mean we are utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own (Romans 3:10-18, 23; 8:7-8).
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
God is just. We deserve death.
Sin is breaking God’s law. It is a violation of the holiness (the moral purity and excellence) of God Almighty; it is essentially cosmic treason. To violate the rule of an infinite God has an equally infinite consequence: death (Romans 6:23). This is not just physical death, but eternal death experiencing his wrath in hell. Sin cannot be “swept under the rug,” and any good we try and do cannot “outweigh” the bad we have done because our very nature is evil, and if God is to be the perfectly just, good, and righteous God that he is, he cannot let the guilty go unpunished. We have broken his law, and stand before the Judge as condemned.
Our situation is desperate. If we are to be rescued, we need two things: we need someone to pay the price, to take the wrath of God, for our sin and rebellion against him (Hebrews 9:22), and we need someone who can perfectly fulfill and obey the law of God for us (Romans 3:19-20).
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
God is gracious. He provided a Redeemer.
This is the good news: in love, God sent His Son into the world not to bring condemnation but salvation (John 3:16-17). Jesus, both fully God and fully man, was born of a virgin by the Spirit of God, not from the corrupted seed of man. The Author of history entered into His story! He lived a perfect life of obedience to God, knowing no sin (1 Peter 2:22), was crucified, and rose again on the third day, defeating the power of death (Colossians 2:13-15). Jesus Christ laid down his life as our substitute to atone for the sins of those who would believe upon him (Romans 5:8-10)! “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (1 Corinthians 5:21). And just as Christ took our sins and bore them on the cross, he now gives us His righteousness and fills us with his Spirit (Acts 2:38; Eph 1:13-14). Therefore when God sees us, he sees the perfect life of his Son. Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, and Christ’s perfect life satisfied the demands of God’s holiness, thereby enabling him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Jesus (Romans 3:24-26).
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).
The gospel is God’s grace from beginning to end. At the heart of this good news is that we can have communion with God through our union with Christ. This is the hope that we have as Christians (1 Peter 1:3-5; Eph 1:3-14).
Jesus is the Way. We must repent and believe.
So how do we respond to this gospel? Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” The Bible makes clear that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life (John 14:6). He is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). To receive this gift of salvation, we must place our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 4:22-24). As an outward sign of the inward grace that we have received, and on the basis of our confession, Jesus commands us to be baptized (Matt 28:19; Acts 2:38). Our baptism is a proof and reminder of what the Spirit has done in us, how we have died to sin and have received a new spiritual life by the grace of God(Rom 6:3-4; Gal 3:25-29; Col 2:11-15; Cor 5:17), and of our unity in the body of Christ (Eph 4:5).
Not only must we repent, believe, and be baptized, we must continue in repentance: humbly acknowledging and confessing that we are sinful, and making a conscious choice to turn from our sin and pursue Christ (1 John 2:3). We then are able to live free of guilt and condemnation, knowing our identity as adopted children of God, as new creations (Romans 8:1, 1 John 3:1)! His glorious grace enables and motivates us to live godly lives, overflowing with love towards God and our fellow man, while we wait for the great and glorious day when Christ returns for his people, his church, his bride (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:11-14)
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7)