The Gospel is the “good news”…

The word gospel is used indiscriminately these days and can mean a genre of music, a branch of Christian denominationalism, or when referring to the first four books of the New Testament. There is nothing wrong with these definitions, but when we say the word gospel, we speak of something greater than all of that.

God is absolutely just and absolutely righteous. This means that anything which is not absolutely righteous, He is just in sentencing to eternal death and separation from Himself; He is the absolute judge, after all, having no sin in Him. The bible says that this means eternal damnation by fire which is unquenched; that is, never ending.[1] Many erringly believe that God is unloving or unmerciful for creating such a place. But the lake of fire was not created for man, but for Satan and his angels.[2] It was made for God’s enemies. And while just and righteous, God is also absolutely merciful, providing a pardon for our sin so that we don’t have to endure But, you would say, how can He be absolutely just – passing judgement to all of mankind for their sin – and be absolutely merciful – pardoning all of their sin?

At the genesis, God created a perfect world without sin or corruption. He made man and named him Adam, who was created in God’s image and likeness.[3] From the created dust, He formed man’s flesh, and he breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of life and he became a living soul. From the man’s flesh, God created Eve, because it was not good that man should be alone.[4] It was this institution of marriage that was created to be the earthly representation of the marriage of Christ and His bride.[5] And so Eve was created to be for her husband, just as the church was created to be for Christ.

But together, Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan, and they disobeyed God of the only law He had given them.[6] As a result, they each ceased to bare the holy image and perfect likeness of God,[7] and sin entered the world, corrupting the very nature of existence. Man was separated from God and could never be allowed to be in His presence again in his corrupted state.

Instead of killing the man and his wife, however – as was their just punishment – God clothed them in pure grace and promised that the Seed of the woman would one day crush the head of the one who deceived them. Adam’s wife later bore to him a son in his own likeness.[8] Sin had even corrupted man’s physical makeup. He would continue to sin and eventually die. But God reiterated His promise down through the years, through Abraham, David and the numerous prophets.

The Lawful Mediator

Later, God began a covenant with Jacob’s offspring, and gave to them His Law. While perfect, it couldn’t impart life because man cannot abide by it. The Law referred to His people as a wayward bride; a common theme in Scripture.[9]

Imagine a woman who is married, and she becomes divorced for whatever reason. She marries another man and shares herself with him. The Law required that if her latter husband died or if she otherwise ever sought to return to her former husband, he could not take her back because she would have become defiled and unclean. She is no longer married to Him alone. She has decided to be consumed by another and he would be forced to share her. The Law labels this woman an adulteress.[10] And the Law required that any who did not obey it – those who could not measure up to the character of God – would die; for the wages of sin is death. Thus, the woman would die an adulteress while her original husband yet lived.

Have you ever lied? This is a common question many evangelists will ask you because to lie is outside of the truthful character of God. But let’s get honest with ourselves: Have you ever watched pornography? Are you addicted to any other form of drugs? Have you slept with a woman who is not your wife? Have you ever slept with a man not your husband? Do you sleep with others of the same sex? Are you greedy and self-absorbed? Are you easily angered and offended? Do you hate anyone? This is sin – behavior and personalities that are contrary to God. And the depressing truth is that our sin separates us from God and sentences to a right judgement of eternal darkness and despair. We are adulterers and enemies of God.

At least it would be depressing if there wasn’t a hope.

The Promise of Reconciliation

Remember when we said that the Law also commanded that the married woman be bound to her husband as long as he lives and so is an adulteress if she has defiled herself with another? But what if her original husband died? The Law said that she is released from the Law in that regard and no longer considered an adulteress, even though she be married to another.

Through one of the last reminders God gave of His promise, He said that the days would come when He would enact a new covenant that was unlike the covenant he made with Israel; a covenant which would not rely on the insufficient righteousness of man, but the absolute righteousness of God. The first covenant, He said, Israel broke though He were “Husband to them”. For God so loved the world, that He would give His one and only eternal Son Who would be born in our own sinful likeness.[11]

Therefore, God the Son condescended Himself for His bride-to-be so that He would take on the death that the Law required of us. That Man would be called the Christ, the Messiah, and the Savior of mankind. And so, Jesus came to earth, obeyed the Law to the letter, and was ultimately offered up as the fulfillment of the Law in our place. Only His death could pardon all sin because while He obeyed the Law, the Law still took His life, having been murdered by both Jew and Gentile.

And so, the wife went free – we went free – no longer considered adulterers. But our flesh is still destined to die because it has been corrupted by sin’s evil touch. But the hope continues:

Three days after being buried in the grave, our original Husband rose again. See, the grave could not hold Him because He was perfect, obedient, and absolutely righteous, as only God can be. Death had taken Him illegitimately. So not only did He free His bride-to-be from the penalty of the Law through His death, He provided a way for her to be reconciled again with Him through His resurrection.

This is the gospel story – the good news! We, the wayward wife, can be reconciled with our original Husband!

The Free Gift

But what must we do to inherit such a gift? Did God save all of mankind? Yes and No. While this gift is for all to receive, some remain willfully ignorant or seduced by sin’s tight grasp so they suppress the truth. But none are with excuse.[12]

This gift of salvation is a free gift. You did nothing to deserve this gift. And there is nothing you can do which will earn this gift, and yet it is given, nevertheless.

Many claim that they’ve reunited with Christ but willfully remain in sin, but do not be deceived as they are. Those who practice sin deny the free gift. They may attempt to unknowingly invalidate Christ’s death and resurrection by convincing you that once you’re saved you are always saved and so you can return to a life of sin. But He would have to die a second time and the process would begin all over again.[13]

If you committed a heinous crime and were sentenced to death, imagine a good Man came willing to take on your sentence. If you took Him up on His offer, did you earn your freedom? And so this freedom is not bought with works – it is bought by His blood poured out for you and me for His love for us and His perfect will. If you took Him up on His offer, would you return to a life of crime? What do you think would happen if you did? Would you not have invalidated this Man’s free gift by ending yourself back in prison?

The bible says that for those who place their faith in Jesus Christ – that is, (taking from the man on the cross who died beside Jesus) those who fear God, who acknowledge their own sin and humble themselves, who recognize Christ’s righteousness and that only through Him can we be pardoned, they will receive the crown of eternal life.[14] And true belief will show itself in one’s actions, as one mercifully released from a death sentence rightly his.

This is the “good news”! It is our gracious pardon and reconciliation to God through our faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ. This reconciliation and eternal life is called Salvation. It is the acknowledgement of our guilt and depravity. It is the recognition of the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It is the belief in His substitutionary sacrifice which pardons our guilt; which means that it was our cross that He bore taking our place. It is the continual working in that belief where the Spirit sanctifies us; that is, the Spirit conforms us into the image of the Son. If we have endured until the end, a testament of our faith in the work of Christ, then we will receive the crown of eternal life to live eternally with Him forever.[15]


REFERENCES

[1] Matt. 25:41; Mark 9:43, 48; Luke 3:17; c.f. Isa. 66:24

[2] Matt. 25:41; c.f. Rom. 5:10

[3] Gen. 1:27; c.f. Mat 19:4; Mark 10:6

[4] Gen. 2:18; Prov. 18:22; c.f. 1 Cor. 11:9

[5] Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18

[6] Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21

[7] Christ bore the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). And we are being conformed into the image of the Son (Rom. 8:29). This suggests we neither bear His image – we are being conformed into it – and neither do we bare His likeness since sin entered the world, or Christ would not have needed to come in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3).

[8] Gen. 5:1-3

[9] Deut. 24:1-4; Hosea 1; Rom. 7:1-6

[10] Deut. 24:1-4; Jer. 3:1

[11] John 3:16; Rom. 8:3

[12] Rom. 1:20; c.f. Ps 19:1; Jer. 51:15

[13] Heb. 6:6; 2 Pet. 2:21

[14] Luke 23:39-43

[15] James 1:12; Rev. 2:10

2018-01-02T10:31:00+00:00