Everything we do in ministry and life is built on the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:3 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received…”
There are two important points to notice from this verse. First, the gospel is of primary importance. Paul recognized that no other message superseded the significance of the gospel. Second, Paul had received this message, and he was simply the carrier passing it along. He didn’t come up with it, he didn’t shape it, he only reported it. He received it from God and passed it along exactly as it had been given to him.
What is the gospel which Paul had received, which we endeavor to clearly proclaim, and which you must embrace to receive eternal life? We’ve summarized it in four points.
1. God- The Holy and Loving Creator. (Acts 17:24-31)
We have to start with a proper understanding of God, and everything else will flow from this. God has made us according to Psalm 100:3, and therefore, we are responsible to Him. He has created us and has the right to us. You must rightly understand who God is before you can understand the rest of the gospel. Rightly understanding God means coming to grips with His Holiness and His Love.
Holiness - God’s holiness means that He is the standard of right and wrong. He is pure and hates sin with everything He has. He deserves worship and honor because He is holy.
Love - God’s love means that God created us to have a personal relationship with us. He made us in His image, and He cares for us deeply.
Will Metzger said – “We cannot explain the work of Christ unless we present a true picture of God.”
2. Man – The Sinful Creature (Jer. 17:9; James 2:10; Rom. 3:10-12)
When people understand that God is holy and loving, when they have a proper picture of God, then they must acknowledge the existence of sin. God created man and has the right to rule over him, and man is responsible to God. However, man has fully rebelled against God’s holiness, love and sovereignty and now wants to be responsible to no one but himself. Man wants to make his own decisions and leave God out of the picture. Man wants to determine right and wrong.
Sin is willful rebellion by refusing to do what God commands and doing what God forbids. Because sin is primarily against God, it is not a trivial matter, and it has consequences. You cannot disobey and rebel against the holy God of the universe and expect to not be punished. God hates sin because He deserves to be obeyed and honored. Sin dishonors the character of God.
3. Christ – The Merciful Redeemer (2 Cor. 5:21; Is. 52:12-53:11; 1 Tim. 2:5-6)
The gospel message is at first hard to hear because we recognize that we have rebelled against God’s law and broken his commandments. We have been crushed by the weight of God’s standards. We cannot live up to them. We cannot be perfect as God is perfect.
But, this leads us to a sweet word, grace. This is where the gospel story becomes delightful to us. God crushes us with the weight of sin and the demands of perfection from the law. Then He draws us to Himself with love demonstrated through grace when He sent His son.
It is important to remember that God is a God of holiness and love. God cannot stand the sight of sin, and He has to punish it or He would not be holy and just. But we must also keep in mind that God is a God of love. He must uphold the standard of justice set by His own character, but He also loves His creation with passion. How can the mercy and justice of God coexist? When sin must be punished and mercy longs to forgive, what can be done? God, in His infinite wisdom, answers this dilemma by sending His Son to meet the demands of mercy and justice.
Who was Jesus?
-100% God and 100% Man - This way He serves as our mediator between God and man. This way he lives a perfect life as a man and fulfills all righteousness so that we can have His perfect life and death applied to us. (Phil. 2:5-8)
-Sin bearer - Jesus offered Himself as the innocent, perfect sacrifice for sin. He suffered on the cross and bore the wrath of God that was meant for sinners. (2 Cor. 5:21) It’s important to remember that Jesus had to live a perfect life before He could die as a sin bearer. We not only have the guilt for sin removed, but now God views us as if we had lived the perfect life of Jesus Christ. God looks at us and sees righteousness, perfection, and holiness.
-Living One – The resurrection shows that God approved of Christ’s work on the cross. God poured out His wrath on Jesus while He was on the cross, and the resurrection shows He was no longer angry. It also demonstrates that our sins have been completely paid for. Through the resurrection God was saying that His wrath over the sins Christ died for had been fully satisfied.
4. Response – Repent and Believe (1 Thess. 1:9-10; Is. 55:7; Rom. 10:13)
Once we learn these truths, we have to respond in two ways, repentance and faith. Repentance means to turn and begin to head in the opposite direction. We acknowledge the wrongs we have done, despise our sin and sinful nature and determine in prayerful dependence on God to leave our sinful lifestyle and serve Christ as Lord. Faith means that we no longer depend on our own work or ability for salvation, but we rest wholly on Christ. We recognize Christ as the necessary and sufficient payment for sin, long for Christ and rejoice in His love, and commit our lives to Him asking for God’s mercy to transfer our trust from ourselves to Him.
This is the gospel. Like Paul, we want this message to be of first importance to unbelievers and believers alike.