Gospel, Grace, & Evangelism (Part 3): What is the Gospel?

Posted: August 1, 2011 in Theologababble

What is the Gospel?

  1. The word “gospel” (εὐαγγέλιον/euaggelion) literally means “good tidings,” or “good news.” More specifically, it is a reference to the Good News of God’s Kingdom, which was first alluded to in Genesis 3:15 in what is known as the “protoevangelium,” or “first gospel.”

–          “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

  1. Though the entirety of the Good News was progressively revealed over thousands of years, there was always a promise of a Redeemer who would break the curse for God’s people.
  2. Salvation has always been through faith in God’s revealed promise of a Messiah, the “anointed one” who would deliverIsraelfrom the bondage of sin.
  3. Though initially given toIsrael(God’s chosen people), we know from New Testament revelation that God’s promise of salvation was to “True Israel,” not simply those born of Abraham. We as the church are viewed as “grafted” intoIsrael. At the culmination of history, the ethnic people ofIsrael, now under a partial hardening, will at that time be given repentance from sin and faith in their Messiah. For a Biblical understanding of this, see Romans 7-11.
  4. The preaching of the Gospel is vital for the conversion of sinners.
    1. Romans 10:13-15 “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”
    2. Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
    3. The preaching of the Gospel works in harmony with the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit so that the awakened sinner will see what to grasp in hopes of salvation from the wrath of God, namely Christ. A good analogy would be awakening a man falling from a plane. Merely awakening him to his plight does no good if you do not also direct him to pull the ripcord to his parachute. The connection between hearing the Gospel and being regenerated can occur either close or far away. Consider the Ethiopian Eunuch vs. Paul.
  5. Though the Gospel unfolds over thousands of years and across sixty-six books of Scripture, we can proclaim the Good News directly from as little as two verses, as with 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, where Paul explains that the Gospel is “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. However, even this simplistic version of the Gospel presupposes a level of knowledge held by the reader. Terms like “died for”, “sins”, and “in accordance with the Scripture” are unfamiliar to many of those we witness to.
    2. That being said, the Gospel presentation does not necessarily have to begin back in Genesis, either.
  6. My personal preference has been to share Romans 3:23-26, or its contents, in my witnessing endeavors.
    1. Romans 3:23-26 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

 

The Breakdown

  1. All have sinned.
    1. Sin means “missing the mark”. It is everything we do that falls short of God’s standard of perfection. I like to reference  few of the ten commandments here, just so the person that I’m talking to winds up in agreement that they, as well as I, are indeed sinners. If they will not even agree to this fact, further conversation is almost guaranteed to be fruitless.

                                                               i.      Some commandments include (1) putting anything in your life in a place of greater importance than God, (2) taking something that did not belong to you, even as little as a piece of candy, (3) lying about someone, (4) disrespecting or disobeying your parents, or (5) being jealous over someone else’s possessions.

                                                             ii.      The New Testament commands us to love everyone around us with every fiber of our being, so we are in sin every time we are rude, disrespectful, or uncaring. Jesus also equated lust with adultery and hatred with murder.

                                                            iii.      According to James 2:10, if we sin even once in our life, we are as guilty as if we had broken every law.

                                                           iv.      At this point in the conversation, your friend will either agree that they’re less than perfect, or they will stubbornly cling to their delusion of being perfect.

  1. Sin has consequences.
    1. The problem with our sin is that it separates us from a holy and righteous God. You can quote Romans 6:23a here if you wish (“For the wages of sin is death…”), or you can simply explain this truth. Our willful choice to rebel against God has placed us at odds with God. May also help to know Romans 5:12, in case you are asked for Biblical support for these assertions.
    2. There is nothing we can do that will put us back on good terms with God. By ourselves, we cannot be good enough to regain that fellowship with God. As stained creatures, we cannot, in and of ourselves, become perfect. If God was to stand back and watch the human race continue in its sin, all the way to Hell, He could do that because that’s exactly what we deserve for breaking God’s Law.
  2. God cannot forgive our sin.
    1. This is the foundational problem for mankind. Just like a judge would be unjust for letting convicted rapists and murderers walk free, God too would be unjust for ignoring our law-breaking and simply forgive it. Sins are crimes against God, and as such they come with punishment.
    2. Proverbs 17:15 spells this out explicitly: “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the LORD.”
  3. Though we know that God cannot justify a wicked sinner, we see in Romans 3:24 that God graciously justifies wicked people. However, if sin must be punished, the only way God can justify a sinner is by a non-sinner bearing some else’s punishment upon themselves.
    1. Another person cannot be punished in our place, for they are already just as guilty.
    2. Only God can satisfy His own requirements for righteousness, so…
    3. The solution was for God to send His own Son Jesus, who was both God and man, to live a life of perfection and then bare the sins of His own people.
  4. Paul teaches us that we are “justified as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
    1. Remember, Paul keeps stressing the fact that we cannot work our way to salvation, but that God saves sinners as a gift to us, though it dearly cost Jesus.
    2. Redemption means to pay the purchase price, meaning that Jesus himself was willing to pay the price on our heads because of our sin. We deserved death and separation from God, and Jesus was willing to do this.
  5. How? By being “put forward as a propitiation by his blood.” Or in other words, through his propitiating death.
    1. What this means is that while Jesus was being crucified on the Cross around the year 33 AD, He was not only removing our own sins from us, but He was also bearing the punishment that we deserved for those sins.

–          2 Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake, [God] made [Jesus] to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

  1. While on the Cross, Jesus perfectly satisfied God’s wrath on behalf of a particular group of people. This group of people can now be justified because their sins have been paid for. Those not in this group will not be justified, because they remain in their sins.

VII. It is clear from Scripture that the wrath of God was not satisfied on behalf of the human race, for if it were there would be no wrath left from God. Though Universalists believe that Jesus’ death saves all people, verses like the following show that God is still with-holding wrath:

  1. Ephesians 5:5-6, “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
  2. Colossians 3:5-6, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.”
  3. So then who can be saved from God’s wrath? Whose sins did Jesus’ death atone for?
    1. As Paul tells us, because of the death of Christ, God can now be just in justifying “one who has faith in Jesus.”
    2. Though Jesus’ sacrifice was of sufficient value so as to cover the sins of the human race, it is efficient only for those who by faith trust in Jesus Christ to be their Savior.
    3. All of this is summarized by John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

                                                               i.      John 3:16 is not to be taught as a conditional, “If you do this, then God will do this…” It is instead a promise of assurance to all those who are believing, that they will indeed not perish in Hell, but have eternal life with God.

  1. Having got this far, your friend is entitled to an opportunity to respond to the Gospel. I bring this about by referencing Romans 10:13, which is an assurance that for all who call upon the Lord in belief of the Gospel, will most assuredly be saved. Typically I say something like this, “If you believe that God is changing things inside you, and you now see your sin as an offense to God, and you believe that Jesus died on the Cross for you and rose again the third day, and now for the first time in your life you’re ready to surrender to Him, then you need to have a heartfelt conversation with God where you just pour your heart out to Him. Is that something that you’re ready to do, or do you want to think about it for a while?”
    1. We must remember in our evangelism that we cannot make someone believe in Jesus. All we can do is share the truth with them and point them towards God.
    2. Those I am dealing with respond in one of two ways- they either stumble through a prayer where they tell God they need Him in their life, they need forgiveness, they’re sorry, etc. etc….or they kindly decline and say they need more time to think.
    3. Regardless of the choice they make, which is a reflection of what is going on inside their hearts/heads, it’s important to ask them if they have any questions about your faith, or the Cross, or Jesus, or anything like that.
  2. At the forefront of our evangelistic efforts should be the prayerful acknowledgment that only God can give spiritual life to dead hearts. We are called to share the Gospel, for it is through this that God will work, if He has chosen to work. We may go our entire lives without seeing converts, or we may see God at work among everyone we encounter. Let us remember Paul’s reminder that although some plant seeds, and some water planted seeds, God is the one who will determine whether or not the seeds lead to salvation.

 

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