|Written by Patrick Morley|
|Monday, February 07 2011 00:00|
28. The Gospel
One of the most elegant expressions of "the gospel" is found in Romans: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (6:23). This text addresses the three main issues raised by the gospel: the problem of man, the issue of Jesus, and the gift of eternal life. Here is a manly way of presenting the gospel that addresses these three issues: (1) Adam failed. (2) Jesus nailed. (3) Grace prevailed.
First, Adam failed. The true tragedy of our existence is not what we have become, but what we could have been. We all sense by intuition that mankind has not reached its potential. We each have an instinct that tells us the human race was destined for better, that our dignity has been tarnished. Logic tells us that something catastrophic has happened to mankind.
Christianity teaches that this catastrophe took place in the garden of Eden. Evil entered the world, and people began to make sinful choices. A downward spiral of sin continues to the present day. All people are guilty of sin, which halts our progress toward an abundant life. Not only is progress halted, but we also have become alienated from our Creator.
Second, Jesus nailed. The Christian solution for sin is that God came into the world to be a Savior. The history of Jesus is the story of His incarnation. Jesus was a living person who existed in history, performed remarkable miracles, claimed deity, was put to death, and was resurrected from death. If the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus had never happened in history, there would be no Christian religion. Christianity is Jesus Christ. The doctrine of Christ--"he died for our sins"--is understanding that Jesus Christ claimed to make atonement for our sins, or to satisfy the "wages of sin is death" problem in Romans 6:23.
In his own words Jesus said, "I came to seek and to save the lost. For God so loved that world that he sent me into the world so that whoever believes in me will not perish but have everlasting life. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, he has crossed over from death to life. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. I shall lose none of them that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day." About his identity Jesus said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father. The Father and I are one. I who speak to you am he [the Messiah]" (adapted from John 14:9; 10:30; 4:25-26).
Third, Grace prevailed. The core point of Christianity is that no matter how futile a man's life has become, Jesus Christ wants to restore him to his original dignity and give his soul rest, both now and forever. This is true Christianity: No matter what he has done, he can be forgiven. The biblical term for this is grace.
Christianity is unique among all religions because it is the only religion based on nonperformance. Becoming a Christian is not about "doing" something but about acknowledging one's inability to do anything to save oneself.
Rather, the work of salvation is a work of grace. The apostle Paul wrote, "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5). Once this simple idea called grace is grasped, it begins a chain reaction in the soul. There is no "merit" to be earned. Rather than receiving justice, we have through God's mercy received grace, which leads to godly sorrow and to faith.
For More: (1) See the topics "Eternal Life," "Forgiveness," "Salvation"; go to www.pastoringmen.com and click on "28. The Gospel" to read "How to Lead a Man to Christ."
Yours for changed lives,
Patrick Morley, PhD
#408 © 2011. Patrick Morley. All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced
Excerpted from Pastoring Men, Moody Publishers.