by Steve DuPlessie | June 11, 2018
Several hundred years ago the Puritans here in New England talked about “the glories of the gospel.” They meant God’s fantastic plan for saving sinners. He saves sinners by declaring them righteous in his sight on the basis of the blood of Jesus, and he does it through simple faith alone. And most amazingly, he justifies sinners while they are still sinners.
Romans 4:5 tells us, “People are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” He doesn’t say, “Clean yourself up and I will accept you.” No! He says to broken and fallen sinners, “Come just as you are … and I will declare you righteous right now.”
The Apostle Paul wrote more about the gospel than anyone else. Let’s look at three ways he described it. First, when you read Romans, chapter 1, verse 1, the Apostle Paul called himself an apostle of … “the gospel of God.” The gospel … begins with God! He made the first move and if he didn’t make the first move, we would make no move at all.
Because the gospel is not actually about us. It’s about what God has already done for us through Jesus Christ. God is the author of the gospel. When confronted with our rebellion, he chose to become our Redeemer and our Deliverer. That’s why the Bible tells us that the Father sent the Son to the earth. It’s not as if a committee of humans petitioned God to send Jesus to the earth. That was entirely God’s idea and God’s doing to fix our sin problem.
And what we know about the gospel comes from God himself. We know what we know because he has told us in his Word. The truth of the gospel does not depend on a church or a powerful, persuasive preacher; on ancient traditions or any particular denomination. So, we base what we say on the reliable authority of God’s Word. And we deny there is any gospel other than the one God revealed to us in the New Testament.
Not only does the gospel begin with God, the gospel centers on Jesus—who he is and what he did; what he accomplished in his life, and death, and resurrection. In these days of political correctness and soft theology, we need to reassert the uniqueness of Jesus.
Even though it isn’t popular, we can only say what the Bible says: The only way to know God is through the death of Jesus Christ in our place, as our substitute. That means the eternal destiny of all people depends on whether they know Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Acts 4:12 says that plainly and clearly: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” We may not be comfortable with those exclusive words, but there it is in black and white. Jesus said the same thing in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
So I’m not misunderstood, let me be even more explicit. The Bible offers no hope to sincere worshipers of other religions. There is no other way to a saving relationship with God, and no other name than Jesus Christ as savior.
Sincerity is not enough to get you to heaven. Only Jesus saves. And that’s why we don’t apologize for preaching the gospel; that’s why we send missionaries to the ends of the earth; that’s why we train people to talk about Jesus. We’ve got Good News the world needs to hear.
Ok, so to be clear, let me give you the Gospel in a short sound bite … Jesus Christ—fully God and fully man—came into our world. He perfectly obeyed God’s law and perfectly fulfilled God’s will. He died in our place as our substitute, paying God’s penalty due for all our sins. He rose from the dead three days later and then went back to heaven. Jesus will one day return to restore the earth and establish his kingdom. In the meantime, we are commissioned to clearly present the gospel to all people everywhere.
To say it this way means that the gospel doesn’t center in our feelings or our sentimental emotions. The gospel is rooted in time and space, in the facts of history, in the Incarnation birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, in the truth of what God did when he sent his Son to the earth.
God did this out of holy love and holy pity for us. He knew there was no hope for us … unless he took the initiative to save us. Salvation begins and ends with the admission that all the parts of us – our intellect, will, emotion, body, spirit – have all been infected by the fatal disease of sin. The bible says “All have sinned and fall short of God’s perfect standard.”
Nothing in us that can contribute to our salvation. The bible says “We were all once dead in our disobedience and sin…” We are all utterly helpless and hopeless, totally unable to somehow be good enough to make up for our sin and save ourselves, so salvation must come from outside of us. We confess that we need the help that only Jesus can supply.
So God, in an amazing display of love and mercy, offers us salvation on one simple and single condition—a wholehearted faith in Jesus Christ, trusting him alone as Savior, resting on the death of Jesus for complete salvation, giving up all self-confidence, admitting our sin, confessing our need, and crying out to Jesus to save us from the chains and penalty of our sins.
The bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Those who trust in Jesus – and only Jesus – are saved forever. They’re forgiven of all their sins, born again in new spiritual life, adopted into God’s family, and declared to be totally righteous in God’s eyes … all while they are still sinners! That’s nothing short of amazing!