The Gospel matters most.
If you are new to Christianity or if you have been a Christian for a long time, you have probably heard different explanations for what Christianity is all about. First Corinthians 15:3-4 says the Gospel is the most important message, the central idea, of the entire Bible. Since it is so critical, we want to be clear about the heart of Christianity. Here is a quick explanation of the Gospel. If you’d rather watch a video that explains the Gospel, you can jump down by clicking here.
What is the Gospel?
The word “gospel” literally means good news. It starts in the beginning, when God created everything and said “it is good!” He created humans to live in the world He created and to enjoy a perfect relationship with Him forever. The first man and woman, however, decided to reject God and rebel against Him by disobeying Him. Ever since then, every person that has ever lived has done the same. All the problems that exist in this world can be traced back to this root cause– sin. In order to bring people back into relationship with Himself and set the world right, God sacrificed His Son, Jesus, paying the price for our rejection and rebellion with His life. Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, humbly came to the world and served people like us, who killed Him by nailing Him to a cross. The He, was placed in a grave, but in an act of victory over sin and death, He rose up from death to life. When it is time, Jesus will come back to rescue His people, judge the world, and make all things new.
In His crucifixion (being killed on a cross), Jesus suffered the punishment that every person deserves for their sin. He didn’t just take the punishment for sin through His death on the cross– Jesus lived a perfect life. He met the standard of perfection that God requires of us, the standard we were created to live by. Jesus did not only come to pay for our imperfection through His death on the cross, He came to be our perfection through His sinless life. He did this so that we would not suffer the condemnation and punishment for our sin and so that we can receive the credit for Jesus’ perfect and righteous life, which reconciles us with God (2 Corinthians 5:21). It is only through Him that people can have a relationship with God, which is why we exist.
The Good News, then, is that we can have an eternal relationship with God through Jesus. Salvation is given by grace (we can’t earn it), through faith in the character and work of Jesus. Every person was created to have a relationship with God. Unfortunately, sin inherited from Adam and committed by every person changed every person’s relationship with God. Sent on a rescue mission, Jesus came to earth to live a perfect life and die a criminal’s death in the place of every person who trusts in Him. Through Christ’s atoning work and resurrection, people can now have a relationship with God. If we have faith in what Jesus has done, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit until we are one day united with God.
How should you respond to the Gospel?
The Gospel is not some philosophical idea that doesn’t call for a response. Upon hearing the Gospel, everyone must decide how they will react. Peter, one of Jesus’s closest friends and a leader in the early church, proclaimed the Good News to a crowd. The audience responded by asking, “What should we do?” Peter directed them to “Repent and be baptized…in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). You, also, should respond to the Gospel in this way. First, you should repent of your sin. Repent simply means to turn back, away from, or towards. The proper reaction to the Gospel is turning away from your sin and toward God. You should acknowledge God as the master of your life instead of yourself.
Repentance is then followed by baptism. Baptism should be offered to a confessing believer of Jesus Christ and involves full submersion of the believer into water. It represents death, burial, and resurrection and associates the believer with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Baptism follows salvation, it does not impart salvation!
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