Summary: Understanding what the gospel is
“Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us,b so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us.c Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,e so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
The Heart of the Gospel is Grace.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” (Eph. 2:8) In a recent sermon, Pastor Rob said that “God is not driven by our love for him; God is driven by his love for us.” Understanding grace is vital because it uncovers the heart of God. God’s desire is to have a relationship with us and that we seek a life of intimacy with him.
Grace is what makes this possible. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was an act of grace. He gave his life, in our place, to redeem us, to buy us back. Our faith stabilizes our relationship with God and His Spirit seals us.
The Mind of the Gospel is forgiveness.
Perhaps one of the most well- known Bible verses is John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever would believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life.” While I’ve heard this to be the “gospel in a nutshell” I tend to go a bit further in the Scriptures and include verses 17 and 18 which say, “God sent his son into he world not to judge the world but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.”
The mind and the message the gospel proclaims is that forgiveness is found in Christ alone, and his forgiveness is an outpouring of his love for us. To understand the heart of God, John 3:16 clearly reveals his heart loves (the world), his heart is sending (Jesus) and his heart is receiving (those who believe).
Christ came because we all fell short of God’s glory. Christ came to redeem us. Christ came to save us from the power and penalty of our sins and to bring us back into a relationship with God the Father.
The Soul of the Gospel is freedom.
Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ set you free.” Our freedom in Christ is that we can respond to God, through the very blood of Christ. We can live our lives for God, without the chains religion. The Old Testament Laws were designed to show us that (1) We were imperfect (2) we could never obey the laws on our own strength (3) The laws pointed to Jesus.
God has given us freedom, not in ourselves, but freedom in the Spirit who leads us into all truth (illuminates truth to us) and reminds us of the truth (convicts us). To have intimacy with God, the key is to live out the freedom we have in the Spirit, as we allow the Spirit to guide our lives.
The strength of the gospel is love.