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The Gospel

Biblical Salvation

There is much confusion over the gospel today – yet without a biblical understanding of the gospel no one would ever be converted (1 Peter 1:23, Romans 10:14-15).  Therefore we believe it is essential to get the gospel right as the foundation of all that we do as a church.

At its most basic, the gospel is “good news,” the truth about God and the salvation He has provided through the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ in his death, burial and resurrection.  But in order to embrace the good news, we must understand the bad news – that mankind is dead in transgression and sin, cut off from a relationship with God and justly under the wrath of God which will result in eternal suffering in hell after death.

Although there are many methods by which the gospel can be effectively shared, we believe that one of the best ways is to begin with the character of God as Creator, in His holiness, justice and love; move to the biblical description of man as evil and sinful, completely separated from God, and unable to do anything on his own to gain salvation; present the person of Christ as the perfect Son of God who lived a sinless life and died a substitutionary death on the cross, rising again the third day; and then finish with the necessary response of repenting from sin and believing in Christ alone as Savior and Lord.

That is the gospel in a nutshell, but many have become so familiar with the words of the gospel that they have lost their meaning – and it is the meaning that matters.  Below is a brief outline of the meaning and importance of each of the facets of the gospel that we have already described.

A.  God – His Existence and Character

  1. God is Creator and owner of everything
    1 Co 10:26
    for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains.
  2. God is absolutely Holy
    1 Pe 1:16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
  3. God is Just and therefore cannot accept anything less than perfection
    Mt 5:48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
  4. God is Love
    Ro 5:8
    But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

God created man in His image and desires for men to have an eternally intimate, joyful, and satisfying love relationship with Him.  However, God’s love does not and cannot override His holiness and justice, otherwise He would cease to be God.  Man’s condition is such that he cannot be accepted by a just and Holy God.

B.  Man – His Character and Penalty

  1. Everyone has broken God’s Law
    a.  Our hearts are evil
    Je 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”
    b.  Our deeds are sinful
    Ro 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
  2. Everyone is deserving of eternal death in Hell
    Ro 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Mt 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
  3. No One is capable of doing good works which deserve salvation
    a.  Even one sin merits hell
    Jas 2:10
    For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.      
    b.  Your best deeds are worthless
    Is 64:6
    For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
          

Because God is holy He cannot overlook the sin of man and allow him to enter into a relationship with Himself.  Because God is just He must require the full payment from every man for their sin – that payment is death – physical death and eternal punishment in hell.  Because God is loving and full of grace He has provided a way for the penalty of sin to be justly paid and for His holiness to be untainted in communion with sinful men.  God Himself provided the sacrifice of His own Son to appease His wrath and make the infinite payment that man’s sin required.

C.  Christ  – His Character and Work

  1. Jesus is God Himself, yet also became sinless man
    Col 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
    Jn 10:30 “I and the Father are one.”
  2. Jesus died on the cross to provide salvation
    a.  Perfect sacrifice
    Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
    b.  Sacrifice in our place
    2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
    c.  Loving sacrifice
    1 Jn 3:16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
  3. Jesus rose from the dead and is alive today
    1 Co 15:3-4 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

God in His grace and love has provided a way of salvation for men – yet He requires that there be a response on their part.  No man can be saved simply by knowing certain facts about the gospel – he must make a personal response to the gospel.

D.  Faith – Our Response

  1. Repent of sin
    Ac 17:30Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,
    a. Recognize your sinfulness and guilt
    Ro 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    b.  Agree with your condemnation
    Ro 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    c.  Desire to turn from sin
    2 Co 7:10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
    d.  Seek forgiveness
    1 Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
  2. Believe in Jesus
    a.  Believe that Jesus is God and Man
    1 Jn 5:10 The one who believe in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.
    b.  Believe that Jesus died in your place
    1 Pe 3:18
    For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit;
    c.  Believe Jesus rose from the dead
    Ro 10:9
    that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
    d.  Believe that Jesus is Lord
    e.  Believe that you must follow Him
    Lk 9:23
    And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 
    f.  Believe that Jesus is the only way
    Jn 14:6  
    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

When a man repents of sin and entrusts Himself to the person and work of Christ alone, he gives evidence of the work of God in His heart through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and is at that moment clothed with the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor. 5:21) – justified, made a child of God – adopted, and permanently indwelt by the Spirit of God – sealed and secured.  Assurance of salvation can then be found by understanding the following truths.

E.  Assurance of Salvation

  1. All who truly repent and believe are saved
    Ro 10:13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
  2. It is possible to pray and not be saved
    Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
  3. True faith has fruit
    a.  Love of God
    Mt 22:37 And He said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
    b.  Loving Obedience to God’s Word
    Jn 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments
    1 Jn 2:5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.  By this we know that we are in Him:
    1 Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome
    c.  Love of God’s people
    1 Jn 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
    d.  The Fruit of the Spirit
    Ga 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Every true believer has had the righteousness of Christ imputed to their account thus being clothed in an “alien” righteousness that never ebbs or flows.  Additionally, every believer has been delivered from the domination of sin over their lives – they are no longer controlled by it.  However, the Bible is clear that sin remains within the flesh of the believer and that it is the plan and purpose of God for every believer to increasingly overcome that sin and be continually conformed to the image of Christ by growing in the practice of biblical holiness or sanctification.

F.  Growing in Christ

  1. Remember that you are:
      a.  A new creature
    2 Co 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
      b.  Fully forgiven
    Col 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,
      c.  Adopted into God’s family
    Jn 1:12-13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
      D.  Sealed with the Holy Spirit
    Eph 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation – having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.
  2. Actively pursue Christ-likeness by:
      a.  Offering yourself as a sacrifice to God
    Ro 12:1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
      b.  Spending much time in prayer to God
    Eph 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,
      c.  Transforming your mind by reading, studying, and applying the Bible
    Ro 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
    Ps 119:9-11 How can a young man keep his way pure?  By keeping it according to Your word.  With all my heart I have sought You; Do not let me wander from your commandments.  Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.
    d.  Spending time with and serving God’s people through a solid, Bible teaching church 
    Heb 10:24-25 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
    e.  Telling others about Christ
    MT 28: 19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”