Grace For The Journey
As we enter the Christmas season, I want to spend a few days looking at the announcement of the angel of the Lord that the Bible records in Luke 2:10, “Then the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.’” Here is the first public declaration of the Gospel in the New Testament. The word “gospel” means “good news.”
While the term gospel is a non-technical term for any good news, the New Testament usage defines it as good news for everybody, regarding the benefits and blessings which come to us from the person and work of Jesus Christ. This gospel contains everything related to the person and work of Jesus Christ, including all of the events leading up to His birth, and all the ramifications from Christ’s life, death, and resurrection for unbelievers and believers. In ancient and biblical times, the word is often used regarding things like children who recovered from sickness, a battle which was won, or a successful trading voyage
Just as the words “good news” can refer to almost any sort of happy event or positive outcome today, so also, the words “good news” or “gospel” could refer to almost anything good in biblical times as well.
In the New Testament though, the phrase “good news” or “gospel” has a more focused meaning.
Though it can sometimes
Refer simply to
An encouraging message
(1 Thessalonians 3:6),
And Jesus often used
The term to describe
The coming of the Kingdom of God
(Matthew 4:23; 9:35),
Paul uses the word most often
In reference to describe
The complete chain of events
Regarding what God has done
For sinful man
Through Jesus Christ
To provide eternal life
And when I write “the complete chain of events” I mean everything that the Bible teaches regarding the why and how of what God has done: beginning with God eternal love for humanity, including the creation of mankind and their subsequent fall, and going through God’s calling of Israel, His work through them during their checkered history, the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, the return of Jesus and the new heavens, the new earth, and our eternal existence with God. The biblical “gospel” includes all of this. Every bit.
So what is the gospel?
It is everything about Jesus
Today, I want to help us understand the gospel by looking at six key truths of the GOSPEL Journey. I will use each letter of the word to unfold its complete meaning:
G od created us to be with Him – Genesis 1-2.
In these two chapters . . .
God creates all of the universe
And everything in it (Genesis 1:1),
Including the first man and woman,
Adam and Eve.
God created Adam and Eve with purpose –
To know Him and glorify Him in what they did.
He called them to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) and fill the earth with their offspring. He gave them the mission of taking care of the earth and tending the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15).
God made them to be in complete fellowship with Him and with each other. Their nakedness (Genesis 2:25) represented the fact that they had no sin, therefore no shame, therefore nothing to hide before God or each other.
They regularly communed with God
In the garden and had sheer bliss,
Pure happiness, and unadulterated joy
In that relationship. It was during this time
That they were living everyday as God intended,
In right relationship with God, each other and His creation.
The only command God gave to them was not to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
In the same way God made us to be in fellowship with Him. His original plan was that you and I were in absolute and perfect relationship with Him and with each other in total unity. God created us to be in harmony with all of heaven and all of earth. But that plan was disrupted by one evil act thousands and thousands of years ago.
O ur sins separate us from God – Genesis 3.
When Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:6), and thereby sinned, they immediately became aware of their “error.” They sewed fig leaves together to cover their shame and hid in the garden from God (Genesis 3:7,8). Now they were hiding from the one that they used to fellowship with regularly. Men and women have been hiding from God ever since, covering their sin and shame with the fig leaves of religion, philosophy, promiscuity, etc.
God confronted them face to face. As a result of their sin there were immediate and future consequences. The immediate consequences were losing fellowship with God Genesis 9), being banished from the garden (Genesis 3:23,24), having difficulty in childbirth (Genesis 3:16) work turning from a joy that we love to a job that would be hard and difficult (Genesis 3:17-19).
The future consequence for Adam and Eve was physical death. God had promised in Genesis 2:17 that the day Adam sinned by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would “surely die.” Spiritually Adam and Eve died the day they sinned in the garden. Their souls became immediately polluted by sin and selfishness. As a result, all of their offspring (and that includes you and me) were born sinful and selfish.
Through Adam every person ever born
Is both deprived and depraved,
Deprived of God’s fellowship
Depraved to the core of their being
When confronted by God, instead of owning up to their sin, they began the blame game. Adam blames Eve (Genesis 3:12) and Eve blames the snake (Genesis 3:13). Humanity has been playing the blame game ever since.
What began as paradise
Unraveled with a single choice
To disobey God and
Listen to Satan instead.
Every war, famine, argument,
Sin and tragedy can be traced
Back to the garden of Eden
Where Adam and Eve chose to
Turn their backs on God
Resulting in spiritual and physical death.
S ins cannot be removed by good deeds. (Genesis 4 – Malachi 4)
From the beginning man has attempted to remove the stain of sin by good deeds. When Cain offered God vegetables instead of the offering God had desired as an atonement for his sin God rejected it (Genesis 4:1-4). Cain was infuriated and killed his brother Abel.
In Exodus, the second book of the Bible, God gave the Israelites the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), not to save them from their sin, but to show them that they couldn’t live up to His perfect standards on their own (Galatians 3:23-24). Instead of looking to Him in faith many of the Jews looked to themselves and thought they could please God in their own strength. But God saw their “righteous” deeds like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Even the best of their good deeds were corrupted by selfish motives.
In Leviticus, the third book of the Bible, God gave the Israelites the sacrificial system. Every time a Jew sinned, he or she was to sacrifice a goat without any blemishes (Leviticus 4:27-31). Think about that. If you were a Jew in the Old Testament and had to make a sacrifice every time you lied, lusted, gossiped, complained, or argued you would need an awful large herd of goats! Other offerings included offerings of bulls and sheep.
The sacrificial system was meant
To point inward, upward, and forward.
It pointed inward
To convince you
Of your sinfulness.
If you were honest before God ,
Then you would soon realize
That you could never
Make enough sacrifices
For your sin.
It pointed upward
To make you trust
In God for your salvation
Instead of sacrifices
That you could make
It pointed forward
To the ultimate sacrifice
Of the lamb of God,
Who would one day
Come to take away
The sin of the world
The rest of the Old Testament tells the story of the Jewish people, some of whom realized they were sinners and needed God to save them (Psalm 51:1,2) and most of whom trusted in their own goodness instead of the mercy and grace of God (Isaiah 64:6).
P aying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again – Matthew – Luke.
When Jesus came to the earth . . .
He came as
The fulfillment of the law
And the ultimate sacrifice
He lived the perfect life
That we could not live
And died in our place,
For our sin.
When He died upon the cross
He met God’s righteous demands
And therefore He could declare,
“It is finished” (John 19:30).
What He meant by these three words
Was that the price for our sins
Was paid completely.
He was fully God and entirely man.
As a perfect human
He could die for other humans.
As the true and living God
His payment for sin was enough.
Jesus rose from the dead three days after He was murdered on the cross (Mark 16:6). He was seen by over 500 witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:6) on at least 12 separate occasions over the course of forty days (Acts 1:3).
Because He shed His blood
Our sins can be forgiven
Because He died
Our sins are paid for entirely.
Because He rose from the dead
We know that Jesus was
Who He claimed to be,
God in the flesh.
E veryone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John)
The amazing thing about eternal life is that . . .
It is a free gift
Given to us by God
By grace alone,
Through faith alone,
And because of Jesus alone.
We are not saved
By any goodness in ourselves
And not by any of our good deeds
Jesus paid the price for our sins
When He died on the cross
And all we must do
Is receive the gift of forgiveness
When we believe that
Jesus died for our sins
And trust in Him alone
We receive eternal life,
Are passed out of death into life
And are guaranteed
A home in heaven
Eternal life is not achieved by good deeds but received through faith.
It’s not a matter of trying but trusting.
When we believe, we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. Almost the entire New Testament is dedicated to talking about this eternal life and the implications of it in our everyday lives. From John through Jude the disciples of Jesus show us how to live like Jesus intended. This is the heart of eternal life!
L ife with Jesus starts now and lasts forever – Acts – Revelation.
Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead we will be with Jesus forever in heaven. When we trust in Jesus we enter into a personal, permanent relationship with God called “eternal life.”
Part of the reality of eternal life
Is that it doesn’t start
After you die
But as soon as you believe
This life is the joy of a real,
Exciting relationship with Jesus
Every single day through prayer,
Worship, and living in the strength
That God provides through his Holy Spirit
The other part of
The reality of eternal life
Is that all who have
It will be with Jesus
Forever and ever
In heaven someday.
Once we receive Jesus
He ours forever
We are His forever!
The last chapter of the last book of the Bible makes it clear that we will “rule and reign forever” with Jesus (Revelation 22:5). In essence, the last chapter in the story of the Bible concludes by saying all of God’s promises are fulfilled and purpose is realized
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”