I’ve been talking a lot recently about making sure you have good theology, why obedience to God matters, and more. I have even more theology and real life related posts coming, including a two-parter on submission (it’s really truly coming I promise!!). But before I move forward, I want to take a step or two back. It’s important to me that my readers know that I am not pulling what I say out of thin air. Everything I say and believe about theology and life all goes back to the Bible, and even more specifically, the gospel. How a person views the gospel affects everything else about their theology. This is where we all must start. And this post is about why it matters.
The word “gospel” in the New Testament is from a Greek word that, literally translated, means “good news.” And that is exactly what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is: good news. The best news of all, really. Jesus, who is God, condescended to earth; became fully man (while still remaining fully God); lived a full life here on earth; spent the last three and a half years of his life ministering to the poor, sinful, and needy; was falsely accused of blasphemy; hung on a cross to die a cruel and painful death; and rose again from the dead three days later. This is the gospel simplified, and may very well be familiar to most of the people reading this. Most of my fellow Christians could probably ramble this all off in their sleep.
But why do we need the gospel? What is so important about this good news? What is the significance of Jesus’s death and resurrection? Why him? Why this way? These questions and more come up when you provide this simplified version of the gospel. The gospel matters because the answers it gives to these questions. It matters because of why Jesus came, why he died, why it was him in the first place, and why it is still relevant to us today.
Why do we need the gospel? I am so glad you asked! We need the gospel because we cannot save ourselves. But why do we need saving? If you’ve ever wondered why the world can be so cruel, it is because we are each and every one of us sinners. The world is cruel and we need saving because each and every person is a rotten, totally depraved sinner. There is nothing we can do, there is no amount of goodness to save us from eternal punishment. No amount of good deeds could even come close to paying the massive sin debt we each owe. And the cost of sin is death, eternal death in hell. This is the bad news: we cannot save ourselves. Our good deeds add up to absolutely nothing.
Enter, the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified.
What is so important about the gospel, this good news? The gospel is the most important news you will ever receive! Remember that sin debt we owe that we could not pay? Remember how our good deeds add up to absolutely nothing? What if I told you that someone else could pay that debt? What if I told you that someone else already did that very thing?
What is so significant about Jesus’ death and resurrection? His death was the payment. His life was the example. When Jesus was on that cross, as he suffered and hung there dying, on him was imputed the sin of the entire world. And not just the world as it was when he was on earth. No, Jesus took on the sin of every person who ever was, is, and ever will be. He suffered and died in our place so that we could be saved, rescued from an eternity of suffering in order to spend eternity with him in Heaven. But what about his resurrection? This is the best part. Jesus simply dying, while it means a lot, would not have meant much if he had stayed dead. We needed not just the payment of our sin-debt, but also the defeat of death, hell, and the grave itself. And on the third day, when Jesus rose triumphant from his grave, he did just that. He who was once dead, is now alive, and he lives forever. Just as Jesus physically died and came back to life on the third day, so we too are spiritually dead before salvation. At the moment of salvation, God takes our dead hearts and exchanges them for living, breathing hearts. Once dead to sin, we become alive in Christ!
Why Jesus? As I said earlier, we each owe a debt we cannot pay. We cannot save ourselves. But there is someone who can save us. A perfect sacrifice was needed to pay the penalty for our sins. That perfect sacrifice was Jesus. Jesus is God. He has been God from eternity past, and continues to be God on into eternity future. He came to earth as a tiny baby, still 100% God but also 100% human. He did not sin at all. Not even once. He lived the perfect, sinless life that we could not. He kept perfectly the Law we break every day. We need Jesus. He was the perfect sacrifice that paid the penalty for our sins. He died in our place. He rose from the dead, defeating death, hell, and the grave. And now he sits in Heaven, on the right hand of the throne of God. He is God. He is our salvation.
Why this way? It is the only way. Jesus is the only way to salvation. But why such a horrific, gruesome death? Because it was necessary. Because it was the punishment necessary for such horrific sinfulness. Our total, and complete depravity. Our utterly wicked and sinful hearts. Any other punishment would be too light. This is how seriously God takes our sin. It is reprehensible to him. He is holy, sin is decidedly not holy. And Jesus stood in our place, took on all of that pain, punishment, and separation from his own self so that we could have the chance to live again. So that we could believe and live, to sin no more! What amazing grace, what matchless mercy!
But what does this mean for you? For me? Maybe you wonder, what must I do to be saved?
You must believe. You must believe that you are a sinner, unable to save yourself. You must believe that Jesus came to earth, lived a perfect, sinless life as fully man and fully God. That he was falsely accused of blasphemy, hung on a cross, and in his crucifixion, took on your sin and blame and the punishment for it, because you could not. You must believe that on the third day, he rose again, shattering forever the power of death, hell, and the grave. You must believe.
If you are a Christian, a believer in the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified, all of life stems from the gospel. What you believe, why you believe it, what you do, how you do it, the mindset behind why you do what you do, and so much more will radically change as a result of simply believing the gospel of Christ. It is not the easiest life. But it is the best life. Life lived to the glory of God is the best life of all, come what may, no matter the pain life may bring. To know that, as his child, God is always with you, always beside you, walking with you through every pain, trial, joy, and triumph, is the greatest comfort of all. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news you will ever receive. It is the gospel of hope, joy, peace, and most importantly, salvation. If you believe, you who were once dead will be made alive.
Everything I talk about stems from the gospel. This is especially so with Tuesday’s post on obedience. God’s children cannot help but obey him. This is not to say that obedience is always easy, or that there is not internal conflict when it comes to choosing to obey. Our old, sinful nature will constantly be in conflict with our, regenerate nature. But through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will grow in Christ, we will learn obedience, and we will draw closer to our Savior God. This is why the gospel matters. This is why I am so passionate about theology, and good theology. This is why I will never stop teaching or writing. I want to tell as many people as possible this incredible, wonderful, very good news. The best news you will ever hear: The good news of salvation, the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified.