Have You Heard the Good News?
Being a Christian, I thought I knew the Gospel. I had first heard the Good News from my mom when I was a young child. We would pray every night and thank Jesus for our family, health, home, and all He had done on the cross. Then, when I was 12, I heard the Good News at the local church I attended with a friend and his family, and I said "yes" to Jesus and was baptized soon after.
So, fast forward just a few years-25 to be exact, and I can tell you that while I knew some of the Good News back when I was a young child, and at the age of 12 when I said "yes" to Jesus, I'm so grateful for a much clearer understanding of just how good this Good News is! The Gospel really is EVERYTHING. The Gospel is Jesus. The Gospel is salvation. The Gospel is ALL and EVERYTHING we need. The Gospel is for Christians and for non-Christians.
You read that last sentence correctly. You might think, well, how is that? Especially if you're a Christian. As Christians, I think most of us would say "yes" if we were asked if we know what the Gospel is. We would most likely say that the Gospel is Jesus came, He died on the cross for our sins, and if we believe that, then we get to go to Heaven and spend eternity with Him when we pass away. It is what I would have said anyway. But it is so much more. To know the Gospel, really know it, is to really know Jesus.
So then, what is the Gospel? *The following quote is from a class I recently took at biblicaltraining.org:"The Gospel is the good news that through Jesus Christ, God has accomplished all that is ultimately necessary to bring about His glorious plan to manifest His glory in and among His people throughout His good creation, and that through faith in the grace of God, you and I can participate in that glorious plan as we are brought to the Father in the Son through the power of the Spirit." (What is the Gospel?, Dr. Marc Cortez)
The Gospel is God's plan. It is the past, present, and future. As Christians everything about us is touched by the Gospel. Everything in our lives should be informed by the Gospel. The Gospel is not about becoming a Christian-yes it's part of it, but really it has everything to do with BEING a Christian. Our lives are supposed to be Gospel-centered. This Good News changes us from the inside out. Jesus makes us new. He sets us back in relationship with the Father. There is only ONE way to salvation, and that is Jesus Christ.
"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
If we are Christians we live for Christ, not ourselves. Christ is our Lord, no one or nothing else. We live knowing that He creates us, sustains us, redeems us, and pursues us. This is how we orient our lives as true followers of Christ. This does not mean that we are earning our salvation in any way, shape, or form. NO ONE can earn salvation. Salvation comes from God. We cannot save ourselves. This is so crucial to understand. Without God's plan of redemption we are dead spiritually. Because of the Gospel, because of Jesus, we have the gift of salvation. It is a FREE GIFT to whoever BELIEVES.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.
So then what does it mean to believe? To really have faith? In my class on the Gospel they broke faith down into three parts; Understanding, Assent, and Trust. When we understand the Gospel, we are acknowledging it. With mental assent, we agree, or say "yes" to what we have heard. And with trust, we give ourselves to it, to Him. Another component of the Gospel is repentance. Repentance is also acknowledgement. We must acknowledge that we are sinners in need of a savior. Not only do we acknowledge it, we make a change. Repenting means turning. We turn away from our sin and back to God. Our focus is no longer on ourselves or anything else in our lives, including our sin, but our focus is on Jesus. We now follow Him.
"Repentance is the flip side of faith."-Marc Cortez
Another important thing to know about the Gospel is that it is NOT about us! It's about God and His glory. We are included but it is God-centered, not people-centered. God opened the door to His Kingdom. He gives us a gift that we do not deserve. God's love, grace, and mercy are so great! God is also Holy. God's Holiness means that sin must be punished by God. God does get angry about sin and He will bring wrath on it. His Word is very clear about this and we must worship God for who He is. His Word tells us exactly what we must do to be saved. Reading His Word and having a personal relationship with Him is absolutely crucial to our understanding of the Gospel and in sharing it with others.
And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38
So, what about works? Is that a part of the Gospel? In short, no. We cannot add to what Jesus has already accomplished. We are dead spiritually without Jesus, so we cannot bring anything to the table in regards to our salvation.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Our good works come from the change that happens when conversion takes place. The Holy Spirit sanctifies us. The works come from what the Spirit has done in us. We are different, transformed from who we once were to who we are in Jesus. Jesus truly changes everything. He is The Messiah, The Son of God, The Atonement, The Promised One, The King of Kings. He is LORD!
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us remember the Gospel. And I pray that we share it. That we are NOT ashamed of it. If you are reading this and you are not a Christian, I'd love to talk with you about Jesus. No matter who we are, or what we've done, Jesus can redeem us. He came to save. Jesus bore sin, He became sin, He took the wrath that sin deserves. He did what we cannot do because He loves us. I love Jesus and want everyone to know Him, and know the Gospel, and know that Jesus is the ONLY one who saves.
In His love,
*I am in no way affiliated with biblicaltraining.org.