It’s A Good Time To Remember The Gospel

We’ve changed our calendars, put away the Christmas presents and started trying to keep our resolutions. Our brand spanking new Bible reading plans invigorate us. As with every January, we find pleasure as we anticipate making a fresh start. And that pleasure can motivate us toward positive changes that actually do honor the Lord. So Happy New Year, ladies! Let’s pray that 2023 will be a year of wonderful growth in Christ for each of us.

If January is a turning point moving us into the future, perhaps it’s equally a time to reflect on our relationship with God. Most of us are genuine Christians who may have gotten so caught up in doctrine that we’ve kind of lost sight of the miracle of our salvation. Others reading this blog may believe you’re Christians, but are really false converts depending on your own efforts to either achieve or maintain salvation. And a few of you don’t claim to be Christians, and read this blog for your own reasons. No matter which group you fall into, this is an excellent time to think about the Gospel and our response to it.

Let’s begin this discussion by simply going over the basic Gospel message. I’m drawing my main points from my page, What Is The Gospel Anyway?, which shares the Gospel briefly and succinctly. I want to expand on that page a little, perhaps helping you gain a deeper appreciation of salvation. Note: I posted that page before I switched from the English Standard Version, so all linked references in this post will be from that translation, whereas quotes will be from the New American Standard Bible 1995.

The English word “gospel” means “good news.” With Christmas being just over a week ago, we easily remember that the angels announced the birth of Christ as good news to all people (Luke 2:10-14). And Mark begins his gospel narrative by saying that Jesus entered Galilee preaching the Gospel of God (Mark 1:14-15). Clearly, the arrival of Christ and the kingdom of God is good news that deserves proclamation. That being the case, we should understand what the Gospel is and how we should respond to it.

In order to understand the Good News of the Gospel, we must first understand the bad news that all human beings (except Jesus) are sinners by nature and by choice (Romans 3:10-20Ephesians 2:1-3). As such, every person rightfully deserves to spend eternity in hell (Revelation 20:15). I know, we’d rather not hear such things, preferring to believe that we are basically good. Even the most mature Christian struggles to keep this perspective.

Before I go further, I want to elaborate a little on the bad news of the Gospel. Our unwillingness to accept the truth that our hearts are “deceittful above all things, and desperately sick” (Jeremaiah 17:9) is beyond doubt the main reason we resist the Gospel. Yet until we recognize ourselves as hopeless sinners, we can’t really comprehend our need for a Savior. Like my mom, we ask, “Saved from what?” We may admit to having sinned on occasion, but we honestly don’t believe our sins warrant wrath from a holy God.

Ephesians 2 contradicts such self-assessment.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. ~~Ephesians 2:1-3 (NASSB95)

So the bad news that prepares us for the Gospel is that each one of us deserves only God’s wrath. Again, none of us wants to face that fact, but Scripture makes it inescapable. And the bad news makes the Gospel amazingly wonderful as we see God’s mercy on us in Ephesians 2.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. ~~Ephesians 2:4-10 (NASSB95)

Those words, “But God,” pivot the Gospel message from our wretched condition to the Lord’s incredible mercy. God, to rescue us from His own wrath, came to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ and shed His innocent blood on the cross to atone for the sins of all who trust in Him (1 John 4:9-10John 3:16). According to Colossians 2:13-14, Christ cancelled our debt to God by His death on the cross. As a result, those of us who trust in His finished work on the cross will never face the condemnation that we deserve (Romans 8:1).

But He rose again, displaying His victory over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:20-26). His physical resurrection offers assurance that the Father accepted His sacrifice for our sins (Romans 1:4). The apostle Paul writes 1 Corinthians 15:3-34 to demonstrate the necessity of believing that Christ rose from the dead. It’s important, then, that we include the resurrection as an essential element of the Gospel.

The Lord calls us to respond to His death, burial and resurrection by turning from sin (Acts 2:38) and by placing our faith in Him (Romans 10:9). Jesus bore all of God’s wrath on the cross so that we could be considered righteous (Romans 5:6-11). His act demands that we turn from sin (even the sin of trying to merit salvation) and trust exclusively in His shed blood as the atonement for our sins.

Older Christians often recite these Gospel truths, but we can forget to give them serious thought. As time distances us from our past immersion in unrepentant sin, we don’t always remember how desperately we needed a Savior, or how precious His shed blood is. This New Year, perhaps we might want to consider reminding ourselves of the Gospel daily so that we will give the Lord continual praise for His mercy and grace. When we fix our minds on the Gospel, aware of what Jesus has done to save us, we can’t help but worship Him!

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