While I was in seminary my wife and I used to go to Calvary Bible Church in Burbank, California. I won’t rave on an on about it, but it was by far the most amazing church I’ve ever been a part of. I regularly follow their sermon and class audio(right now they’re going through the creation & evolution issue, and it’s amazingly good), and on the church site there’s a gospel explanation and presentation. Seeing that’s it’s the Christmas season, it’s only fitting to be discussing and thinking about the meaning of Christmas; ultimately that relates back to the Gospel itself. The Gospel is the only message that makes sense of Christmas.
I usually try to not re-post or borrow content from anywhere, but this is good enough that I’ll bend my own personal rules a tad. I’ve stolen it from here and I hope you’ll find this both informative and clarifying:
The Answer: What is the Gospel?
Ask 10 people to describe God and you will get 10 different answers. If you really want to truly know God, you need to know what He says about Himself. We can know God because we know where to find information about Him. The Bible:
II Timothy 3:16-17 states:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
II Peter 1:21
For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
The Bible was written by men, but these were men who wrote down the very words of God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, if the words of the Bible are the very words of God, it makes sense for one who would like to know about God to consult the Bible. In the Bible we learn four essential truths about God.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
God created every galaxy, star, planet, continent, and living creature. In fact, he created you. To bring this point home, let’s say that you painted a lovely self portrait. You spend hundreds of painstaking hours, pouring over every inch of your masterpiece, until you develop what you believe as the perfect painting. Then a friend of yours comes over, dips his finger in black ink and gives it a mustache. Naturally you would be upset, because your friend had no right to do so. You made the painting, so naturally it’s your property. In the same way, since God made you, you are His property. The following fact about God begins to explain what God expects out of His property.
Isaiah 6:3 states,
Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.
To be holy means to be set apart from all that is sinful, profane, dirty, and unclean. Every thought, characteristic, and action of God is perfect.
Therefore, what does this perfect God demand out of His creation?
Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.
God’s creatures must match their creator’s character in every aspect of life. To demand anything less, would make God less than Holy. As God’s creation does your life match up with God’s Holy character? Here is a quick test: Have you ever acted selfishly (Philippians 2:3)? Therefore, the following attribute of God relates to you.
Deuteronomy 32:4 states:
He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
God always does the right thing as his righteousness is perfect. He rewards good and punishes evil. This would be good news if we were all good, but the Bible says differently.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
At some point in your life you have failed to comply with the laws of God. According to the Bible if you have ever been angry, in God’s eyes you have committed murder (Matthew 5:21-26). If you have ever lusted, you have committed adultery (Matthew 5:27-30). Sin is the failure to uphold God’s holy and righteous standards and results in guilt before God and divine punishment as we see in the following verse.
For the wages of sin is death,
By death, the Bible means eternal death in Hell where all who have sinned will pay the penalty of their sin forever (Revelation 20:14-15).
Let’s say that a judge tried 100 murderers, found all of them guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, and then sent 99 of them to prison but let one go free, would he be perfectly righteous? Of course not! He would be generally righteous but not perfectly.
Similarly, God would not be perfect unless he punished all sin. Therefore, everyone deserves to be punished for their sin, even you. That is the bad news, but the good news is that …
Knowing our plight, God the Father lovingly sent His Son, Jesus Christ (who is also God (John 1:1 and John 10:30)), to the world to save you from the consequences of your sin, and allow you the privilege of spending eternity with Him in heaven.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Jesus Christ came to earth, and lived the perfect life which we should have lived. Furthermore, he suffered the punishment for our sin by being crucified on the cross and enduring the wrath of God, which we deserved. We know that the punishment Christ received satisfied God’s justice for God raised Christ from the dead to validate it and give us hope (I Corinthians 15:3-7).
Romans 5:8 tells of God’s love when it reads
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
There is a story of two best friends who grew up together. One grew up to become a banker and the other became a lawyer and eventually a judge. The banker was caught red handed for embezzling millions of dollars. When he was sent to trial, it just so happened that his best friend was presiding over the case. Onlookers marveled wondering if the Judge would act justly and give him what he deserved or if the judge would play the role of a friend and let the banker off the hook. The trial came and went and the judge found his best friend guilty and sentenced him to pay the harshest fine you could possibly pay. Beyond a shadow of a doubt the judge was just. Then the judge adjourned the court, took off his robe and told his friend, “I have sold off everything that I have and I am going to pay this fine for you.” Similarly, even though our crimes against God incur His abundant wrath, He sent His precious Son to pay the penalty in our place.
Therefore, you can escape the consequences of your sin by trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross in your place. This is wholly the work of God, not a result of anything which you do.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.
Subsequently, you can either pay for your own sin, or have Christ pay for your sin. There is no other way.
John 14:6 Jesus answered,
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Now that you know the truth about God, you must know how to respond.
It’s not enough to know all of these facts about God. To really know Him, you must repent and believe.
Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
To repent means to turn away from sin. You must renounce your sinful ways and seek the Lord and His ways instead. It is done out of a sincere heart remorseful over sin. To believe is to place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Salvation results in you becoming a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17). You begin to love God and hate sin. You may still sin, but someone who truly knows God will hate sin since Christ suffered and died to take it away. This new life will be reflected in a changed life characterized by increasing obedience to Christ (Acts 26:20).
If you have never repented and placed your faith in Christ, you are in sin as God commands all men to repent.
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
If you are sorrowful for your sin and genuinely want to be forgiven, you can express it through prayer. Ultimately, words don’t save you as God looks at your heart. But if you believe that you are ready to repent and accept what Christ did for you, you can express it through the following prayer.
God, I acknowledge that I have sinned before you and have acted wickedly. I repent of my sins and ask you to forgive them. Thank you for sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. Now, I renounce my life of sin and ask you to enter my life and take control and help me love and obey you. Amen.
Feel free to share this with people when they start talking about “the real meaning of Christmas”.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “Preach the Gospel at all times, and always use words!” Unger