by Mike Ratliff
If we compare much of what is preached or presented as the gospel these days to what the Bible says is the gospel, and if we are scripturally honest, we will have to say that there is a vast difference between the two. The gospel that most here today has been neutered by the removal of the Law of God as well as His wrath against all unatoned for sin. As a result, the Church is populated by huge numbers of converts, but sadly few regenerate believers.
Not only is the concept that the gospel is a description of God’s bridge to people not well known or understood, it is also not seen as necessary. Why? The social or seeker sensitive gospel does not talk about sin, repentance, God’s wrath, or Christ’s Lordship. Instead, the emphasis is on getting as many as possible to “decide for Christ.” Is salvation a decision that includes the reward of eternal life for making it?
Let’s look first at God’s purpose for creating Man in the first place. Why did God create Man? The Bible tells us that God created Man to honor, serve, and fellowship with Him.
10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” Revelation 4:10-11 (NASB)
30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?
31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:30-31 (NASB)
11 You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalms 16:11 (NASB)
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that very few people actually live their lives within God’s purpose of honoring, serving, and fellowshipping with Him. What happened that destroyed this perfect relationship? Man chose to sin against God rather than serve Him.
21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:21-23 (NASB)
What does it mean to sin against God?
4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 1 John 3:4 (NASB)
Men, women, and children sin by doing what God has commanded everyone not to do or by not doing what He has commanded them to do. Therefore, it is quite easy to know if one has sinned or not. In fact, this is the crux of much of the rebellion in the Church today. Many are saying that people can remain in their sins and still be united with God. However, the Bible is very clear that sin separates Men from God and His purpose. In fact, the Bible says that the penalty for sin is death.
22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:22-23 (NASB)
When Man chose to rebel and disobey God, the result was death. The basic meaning of death is separation. From God’s Word we learn that there are three types of death, or separation, which result from sin. Spiritual death separates a person from the life of God, (Ephesians 2:1) and physical death separates a person’s soul from his or her body, (Hebrews 9:27) and eternal death separates a person, both soul and body, from God forever in Hell. (Revelation 20:15)
When Man fell into sin all of the Human Race was plunged into sinful rebellion against God. However, worst of all, everyone in this Race is dead in their trespasses and sins. They are totally unable to create a bridge back to God because all works done in the flesh is sin and God cannot even be in the presence of unatoned sin. Then how can Man ever have eternal life? History is replete with Man’s attempt to create a bridge to God to attain eternal life with Him, but all has been unsuccessful.
12 There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12 (NASB)
5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, Titus 3:5a (NASB)
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NASB)
Therefore, we know that Man’s attempts to create a bridge to God via good works, religion, money, or even morality do not work. These things are examples of self-righteousness and, in God’s eyes, nothing but works of lawlessness. However, God is merciful. He knew that Man could not create a bridge to Him so He created a bridge to Man. How? Remember it is sin that separates Man from God so His Bridge had to deal with that. He sent the second person in the Holy Trinity, God the Son, to become a man, taking the place of His people in paying the penalty for their sins by dying on the cross in their place.
7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-8 (NASB)
18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God 1 Peter 3:18a (NASB)
God has created the bridge to Man so that men, women, children may cross it to eternal life. How do they cross it? They must receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” John 14:6 (NASB)
Receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, which is coming to the Father through Christ, happens when those whom God calls, repent of their sins then put their trust in Jesus Christ alone as their blessed hope of eternal life.
19 Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away Acts 3:19a (NASB)
31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved Acts 16:31a (NASB)
13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 (NASB)
This act of faith is one of believing God, not simply believing in God. It is the result of God’s Grace as He quickens a person so they can believe and repent and receive Christ as Lord and Saviour. They are justified by faith and are washed clean by God’s regeneration. They are no longer dead in their trespasses and sins, but have passed from death to life.
24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 5:24 (NASB)
From this verse we learn that the person who, by faith, believes God has eternal life, does not come into judgment, and has passed out of death into life.
In order to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour a person must admit that they have sinned against God and ask Him for forgiveness. They must believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died for them on the cross, rose from the dead, and is Lord. They must call upon Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Saviour.
Soli Deo Gloria!