The Gospel Message
By: Lew Weider
The Apostle Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Paul should know, since his life was radically transformed when Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9, 26:4–18). Once he knew Jesus and His power, nothing held him back from telling others about the risen Christ. He shared this gospel, the “good news,” with anyone who would listen to him, regardless of their religion or moral background. Paul once wrote to a group of Christians telling them about this gospel. He said:
Moreover, brothers, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1–4).
Be assured, this same gospel that changed and motivated Paul is for you and me today. In understanding the gospel message we find out that:
Jesus paid the price for our sins (I Peter 3:18).
Our sins can be forgiven (Ephesians 1:7).
We can have eternal life by trusting in Him (John 3:15).
The word “gospel” is mentioned over 100 times in the Bible by Jesus and His disciples. Jesus was the source and subject of this good news. Jesus began his ministry by sharing this central truth, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus personally shared the gospel with those who listened to Him and today He is sharing it through the Bible and those who know and follow Him.
He wants everyone to believe this gospel. But why is the gospel needed and how do people come to understand clearly what it means to become a follower of Christ and believe this gospel
The problem is that all people are born sinners and sin separates them from God. “Your [sins] have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:2). The problem started in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were given clear instructions by God. They were free to eat of any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
God told them, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Being deceived by Satan (the serpent), Eve ate the fruit of the tree and gave the fruit to Adam, who willingly (rebelliously) ate it (Genesis 3:1–6).
So what is the big deal? This is a very serious matter. The God of the Bible clearly states that He cannot tolerate the least amount of sin in His presence. Psalm 5:4 says, “You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with You.”
Also, Adam’s choice affected the entire human race. Because of Adam’s rebellion, all people are born sinners (Psalm 51:5) and since then everyone willingly chooses to sin.
The Apostle Paul explained, “Just as through one man (Adam) sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12), and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Everyone is a sinner and this sin separates each person from a holy God (Isaiah 6:3). So, what is the solution; how can sinful humans ever hope to inhabit a holy heaven with a holy God?
Throughout human history people have attempted to solve this problem on their own. Religions have been developed which require people to do good works in order to earn eternal happiness and rewards. This “solution” is really an issue of pride. Salvation is all about God and His grace. Salvation is “the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:9)
Salvation cannot be earned through good works. So what is the real solution? The solution comes from God Himself. God knew that humans could not achieve heaven by good works. That is why Jesus Christ, the Son of God came to die for our sins (John 3:16; II Peter 3:9). The Apostle Peter explained, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (I Peter 3:18).
Even though this sin had separated people from God, Jesus willingly “bore our sin in His own body on the cross that He might bring us to God” (2 Peter 2:24). God loved us and “demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice so that mankind could receive forgiveness of sins and have eternal life in heaven. What a deal! Jesus paid the sin debt that we could not pay so that we could receive His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
God does not force anyone to accept His Son, Jesus Christ. It is a free choice, a gift that He offers to everyone. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
So what is the choice we need to make to receive forgiveness of sins and life eternal in heaven? Again, the Bible is clear. A person must repent of his or her sins and must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
The word “repent” means to change one’s mind. A person first needs to change his or her mind about God. Many concepts exist about God in our world today, but to make an informed choice we must have a biblical understanding of God and Christ. Jesus did not say He was a way to God;
He said He was the only way to God. Jesus excludes all other “ways” when He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The disciples said the same exact thing, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way to God.
A person also needs to change his or her mind about sin. It is not about trying to be good person and living life the way she or he wants to live it. Rather, it is making a conscious choice to become a follower of Christ and His Word. Jesus said “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).
The word “believe” means “to trust or have faith in.” It also has the idea of being persuaded. Biblical faith is not a “blind leap”. It is based upon the Bible, reason, and evidence. “Faith is the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead unless he was able to put his fingers into Jesus’ nail-pierced hands and side. Jesus did not rebuke him for a lack of faith. He let him feel the nail prints. And, what was Thomas’ response? “Thomas answered and said to Him, My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an essential fact of history and the gospel message. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then Christianity is just another man-made religion. The apostle Paul understood this when he said, “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (I Corinthians 15:17).
What must a person believe in order to become a follower of Christ? First, that Jesus is who He said He was. “If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Here, Jesus placed our eternal well-being entirely on the issue of getting what we believe about Him correct.
One must also believe that He died on the cross for his or her sins; that He was buried; and that He was raised from the dead (I Corinthians 15:1–4). The Apostle Paul spelled it out when he said 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” (Romans 10:9). It is a personal choice. Hopefully, it is your choice.
If after reading this gospel message you understand what it means to be a follower of Christ and you would like to receive Him as your Savior you can do that today. “Whoever will call on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Your personal relationship with God can begin right now through praying a prayer from the heart. You could pray a simple prayer
Although this article was designed for Discussion Board Forum 2, if after reading this you prayed to receive Christ as your Savior, please contact your RLGN 104 course instructor so they can celebrate your decision with you.
Topic: Gospel Message Perceptions Thread: The gospel is good news. Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose again, that you might be saved. Learning how a person can become a follolNer of Christ is important. But people have various beliefs regarding that gospel message, and some have real barriers with accepting it based upon their upbringing and life experiences. After reading The Gospel Message article in Module Week 4, you will answer the following questions. These questions must be answered in separate paragraphs.
1. What are various beliefs regarding the gospel message in our culture?
2. What are some specific emotional reasons non-Christians do not accept Christ as Savior?
3. What are some specific moral reasons non-Christians do not accept Christ as Savior?
4. What are some specific intellectual reasons non-Christians do not accept Christ as Savior?
S. What are some apologetic methods Christians can share to address these reasons and better communicate the gospel message?
Replies: Discussions are intended to provide meaningful information to your classmates. When replying to them, you should include substantive content using critical thinking. In each reply, share two specific positive comments about what they did well. In addition, make two suggestions for how they could have improved their thread.
This is an appropriate place where research, course content and scripture can be added. Everyone needs encouragement. Sharing what they did well in their thread will he|p them to know what they should do in the future. Making suggestions for improvement, by providing specific content for them to consider, can really help your classmate improve in future Discussions. Your thread is due by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module 4: Week 4, and your 2 replies by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module 5: Week 5.
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