The Glorious Gospel
In the beginning of creation, our loving God created all the wonders of the Earth with its oceans and rivers, trees and plants, animals and insects, all living in perfect harmony, and God created man to enjoy and oversee God's wonderful creation. The heart of God desired a friend to be His close companion. He wanted someone with the ability to receive what God wanted to share of the deep secrets of His heart, and so, God created man.
The bible says that God created man in God's image. In other words, He created a being that would not only have the ability to receive God's love but a being that would be free to choose either good or evil. You see, love for God would only prove to be true if man would freely choose to obey God while having the freedom to disobey. However, man chose to disobey God and to do what he wanted rather than what God wanted (Genesis 2:16,17, chpt. 3). Man chose to live for himself, rather than God, which is what sin really is: just living for self rather than God and others. Today, millions of people all over the world live their entire lives for their pleasure, their enjoyment, their ambitions, never considering for a moment that they were created to live, not for themselves but for another. This is the sinful state of man.
God promised man that if he disobeyed God, he would die both physically and spiritually, and since that day, all of creation has been under a sentence of death. The beautiful trees and plants, the graceful and powerful animals, and man himself all live on this Earth for only a few years, and then die. Death comes to all for all are born in sin, and along with physical death came spiritual death, which is separation from God and eternal punishment in raging fire when a man dies. The love that God has for man is a perfect love, and the punishment of hell for rejecting that wonderful love is a perfect punishment. The wrath of God is as perfect as the love of God, for they both flow from the same heart, and so, when a man dies, he is cast into torment beyond imagination that will last forever and ever.
God looked down upon man, this glorious creation made in His own image, and grieved because God's best friend had become His enemy. Because God is absolutely pure and clean, God could no longer have friendship with this wonderful yet filthy creature called man, and the justice of God required that all sin be punished with death, physical and spiritual. Man was sentenced to eternal destruction by the justice of God, for the law of God stated that "the wages of sin is death." However, because God is love, He found His heart drawn out toward this beautiful but fallen creature, and God found a way to save man from sin and from the punishment that sin required. God reached into the depths of his love and wisdom and pulled out a plan for man's redemption that no one could have imagined. God found one and only one way for man to be saved from sin and from hell. God found a way, a terrible yet wonderful way to satisfy the justice of God while saving man from hell and from the ugly sin that separated man from God.
Because the punishment for sin was death, God decided to have one man pay the penalty for man's sins by dying for all mankind. However, in order to satisfy God's justice, that one man would have to live a perfect and sinless life. In fact, that one man would have to be as pure as God and yet become sin itself. That one man would have to be as great and as mighty as God, and yet become as weak as sinful man. That one man would have to have the majesty of God, and yet live as a servant of all men. That one man would have to be the owner of the entire universe, and yet, become poorer than the poorest man on Earth. God Himself in the form of the Son of God would have to be born of a woman, live as a man, become sin itself, and be punished in the place of all of mankind. God found a way, the only way for man to be saved, and so, Jesus, the Son of God, was born of a woman, and was placed in a feeding trough in a stable in the town of Bethlehem. The glorious Son of the Most High God left the ivory palaces of Heaven to come down into a hell racked planet called Earth. He left the pure white beauty of heaven for the stench of a stable and lived thirty-three years in what must have felt to Him like a garbage dump. For Him, those thirty-three years must have seemed an eternity fitted into time.
This glorious King of Heaven and Earth became man, grew up working as a carpenter, and then left his home to live the life of a homeless drifter. He slept out in the open and had no possessions of His own. He did nothing for Himself but lived a life of service to all men and to His Father in Heaven. He healed the sick, bound up the broken hearted, raised the dead, and preached the good news that God had found a way to save man from his sin. Oh the depth of the love of God that would sacrifice the presence of His dear Son in Heaven to send Him to Earth for those many years! Oh the love of a savior that would leave His Father and the glory of Heaven for the decay of a cursed world that reeked of sin and death!
For thirty-three years or so, the Son of God became a servant and walked with man, embraced man and befriended man until the time had finally come for the payment to be made for the sins of man. And so, the Son of the Most High drank the bitter cup filled with all of the filth of mankind throughout all ages both past and present. He drank a cup filled with rape and incest, murder and adultery, lying and cheating, selfishness and self-pity, lust and perversion, anger and violence, rebellion and disrespect, suicide and drug addiction, greed and alcoholism. The pure Son of God filled his belly with the filth of man until He became sin itself, and His own Father in Heaven turned His face away, for the sight of such sin was unbearable.
Jesus came to save man from death, and yet, it was man that killed the Son of God by nailing Him to a cross, and the blood that flowed from His mangled and torn body completely satisfied the just punishment for your sin and mine. Today, that same blood still flows in the spirit realm cleansing sinners and making them just in God's sight... just as if they'd never sinned. God found a perfect way to save sinful man and that perfect way was a cross that completely satisfied the wrath of God by paying the penalty of death that all men owed. Now, man can be a friend to God, which is what he was meant to be from the beginning.
What a glorious Gospel! Now you know why it's called "the good news". Now you know why those "strange" people stand on street corners preaching about this man called Jesus. Now you know why the name of Jesus is a name held higher than any other name. Now you know why God is called the God of love. In fact, the bible says that God is Love.
Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, personally paid the debt of punishment that you owe God for all the sins that you've committed during your entire life. You were born a sinner, for all of your desires from the time that you were a baby have been to please and satisfy yourself. You've lived for self or for the world or to please others, rather than for the God that loves you so much that He died for you. The bible says, "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me" (Psalms 51:5 NIV), and "...all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23 NIV). You may not believe that a cute little baby can be sinful, but have you ever seen a toddler tell a lie in order to get out of trouble? Who taught that toddler how to lie? No one has to teach a child to lie; it comes naturally, doesn't it?
You're a sinner not just because you've lied to your parents or teachers or hurt your brothers or sisters or cheated someone or used someone, but you are a sinner because your very being is sinful and self-centered from birth. You have not only wronged others, but you have sinned against God Himself. How many times have you sat under a beautiful tree on a carpet of green grass as a cool autumn breeze refreshed and comforted you and never gave a thought to the God that created these things for you to enjoy? How much of your life have you lived for yourself instead of for God? Do you do what you want with your day, or what He wants? That's the essence of sin: just doing what you want rather than what He wants.
If you know that you are a sinner, then you can be saved, for "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). However, if you feel that your sins aren't any worse than the next guy's, or that you're basically a good person, or that you really don't deserve hell, then you can't be saved, for Jesus came to save sinners, not good people. Jesus said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:32). He also said, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44). The way you'll know if God is really drawing you is if you feel like the greatest sinner on Earth.
If you're a sinner in need of a savior, then here's what you need to do in order to be saved and to begin walking the road that leads to friendship with God:
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:8,9).
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..." (Acts 3:19a)
Determine in your heart and state with your mouth both to your Father in Heaven and to others that Jesus Christ is now your Lord (your master, controller, and owner). Your life, your days, your possessions, your future are no longer yours to do with as you please, but now belong to Jesus. You can no longer live for yourself, but must live only for Jesus in obedience to His commands from this day forward. "because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9 RSV). This step is very important, for if you want a savior to save you from hell, but are unwilling to surrender your "right" to rule your own life, you have not yet been saved from the selfishness and rebellion that is sin. Many today believe they can have a savior without having a Lord, but the bible says that, "...God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36 NIV emphasis added). This confessing of Jesus as Lord must be more than lip service, but He must become your master if you are to be saved, for you must not only believe, but must "confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord." If you are to be saved from eternal death, you must be willing to live for God rather than for self, for "...he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again" (2 Corinthians 5:15 NIV). The bible says in 2 Thessalonians 2:13b that "...God chose you from the beginning to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth" (RSV). Sanctification means in part that you are to be set apart for God's exclusive use. You see, it's all about love, and Jesus said, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me..." (John 14:21a NIV).
"because, if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved" (Romans 10:9,10 RSV).
"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, 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 NIV).
As far as it lies within your ability to do so, you must go to those that you have wronged and ask their forgiveness for the wrong. Ask humbly without expecting them to forgive you, and do not be angered if they refuse. If you have cheated them in any way, make full payment for any damage or loss of property or money as it lies within your ability to do so. If they are no longer alive, you may make restitution to their immediate family. "But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, 'Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.' Jesus said to him, 'Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham'" (Luke 19:8,9 NIV).
Has salvation come to your house? If so, read your bible and obey it. Talk to your new Father all day every day, and ask your new Lord where He wants you to gather together with other believers. If you have been saved through this article, contact us and let us know.
All scripture references are from the King James Bible unless otherwise specified. RSV refers to the Revised Standard Version, © 1962 by Word Publishing Co. NIV Refers to the Holy Bible, New International Version® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.