Why is the gospel so important?…
The gospel is the “Good News” that God is sharing with the world. It is the fulfillment of a promise that God made long, long ago; all the way back in the Garden of Eden.
When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and broke the commandment God had given them, they died spiritually; and death entered the world from that moment on. And every man and woman that has been born since has done so with a condemned soul.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned”
But God, made a promise on that day that He would send One who would be without sin, and whom would defeat Satan, and death.
What is sin?…
So the next thing that we need to understand is the nature of sin, and what it means. The scripture is pretty clear on this:
1 John 3:4
“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
So we know by this that sin is the breaking of God’s law. And the law is the same that was given to Moses thousands of years ago; shortly after God freed the Israelites from Egypt. The Ten Commandments reflect the perfect holiness of God; an image that should be reflected in us, but has since been tarnished by the fall in the garden. So, let’s briefly look at the commandments:
- You shall have no other gods before me – We are to worship the Lord our God with all of our heart, mind, strength, and soul. To do otherwise in any way, shape, or form is sin. God should be first in your life, no matter what!
- You shall not create false idols – When you put other things in your life ahead of God; you are creating yourself an idol. It could be money, work, or even yourself; but we’ve all done it. We erect false idols for ourselves all the time. Sometimes, we even create a god that doesn’t hold us accountable for our actions, and only wants us to be happy. However that is not the God of the bible. God does hold us accountable and has determined a day of judgment in which all our deeds, even those done in secret will be exposed, and judged. God is the only one worthy of our worship, and we only come to know Him through His word.
- You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain – Osama Bin Laden, Hitler, even Satan. These are the names of those who are responsible for atrocities beyond comprehension. They have spread fear, hate and murder across the entire world, and yet, we don’t even consider blaspheming their names. On the other hand, pick up the smartphone of any junior high tween, and I guarantee you that you’ll see O.M.@. All over the place. The Lord is the one who gave us life and provides us with all that we have. He is our God, and we are to honor and worship Him. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but God can destroy both body and soul! Think before you speak.
- You shall keep the Sabbath day holy – How much of your time do you spend each day in prayer or worship? How often do you read your bible? For some of you, the answer might be numbered in minutes, even for the entire week. But the things that we care about will receive the bulk of our attention. If you love your children, you spend time with them. If you love your spouse, you’ll make the time that you can share with them. Some of you love TV, so you’ll watch it every chance you get. Remember, you can not say that you love God and then never spend any time getting to know Him.
- You shall honor your father and mother – God gives us many gifts throughout our lives and one of those is our parents. They may not always be the ones we’d choose for ourselves, but they are always the ones whom God has chosen for us. God has a purpose in all things, and He places us in the families He does for a reason. If you are dishonoring your parents through disrespect, or disobedience; then you are dishonoring God.
- You shall not commit murder – For many, this is an easy one. Often, when I’ve asked someone if they’ve kept the Ten Commandments, the first thing they’ll say is “Well, I’ve never killed anyone.” But when you look at how Jesus understood this commandment, you may have to think twice. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder’”, “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.” – (Matthew 5:21-22). God doesn’t just judge our actions, but the heart. God sees our thoughts as clearly as our deeds; and judges them equally. Hatred is murder. There is no difference.
- You shall not commit adultery – Again, Jesus said in the gospel of Matthew that “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” – (Matthew 5:28). We may not see lustful thoughts as sin, but God does; and they are. Ask yourself; what is it that keeps my thoughts from becoming a reality? Consequences. We know that the reason we don’t act on our sexual impulses or even our murderous ones is because we don’t want to face the consequences; be it divorce or prison or just public shame. We fear these things of the world, and yet we don’t think twice about doing them before the almighty God.
- You shall not steal – It doesn’t have to be grand theft. Have you ever stolen something small when you were a child? Have you ever illegally downloaded music or movies from the internet? Have you ever showed up to work five minutes late but were paid for it anyways? Theft is taking absolutely anything that doesn’t belong to you. If you’re already trying to excuse something that you’ve taken in the past by saying, ‘I borrowed it.’ or ‘It was practically mine anyways.’ or ‘Finders keepers.’, then you really need to think about how you’d feel if something you owned was taken by someone else who used those same words.
- You shall not bear false witness – If you want a good example of this one, then look at any of the previous commandments. We all lie, it’s that simple. However most people will still try to justify their lies by saying, ‘I don’t lie that much.’ or ‘I only tell small “white” lies.’. Well, let’s just make one thing clear… There is no such thing as a small lie, because there is no such thing as a small sin. God is perfect in every way. He is holy and He is perfect and He has never told a lie ever. Just try and guess how many times you’ve lied this week. How about this month, this year, your entire life. Most people loose count past yesterday. Just one lie is enough to eternally separate you from God, and still we lie everyday. Stop lying to yourself,.. you’re a liar.
- You shall not covet that which belongs to your neighbor – Envy is no small thing. People like to say all the time that God is the reason for all war. More lies. Wars have always existed and they will always exist because there will always be things that men are willing to kill for. Whether it’s something massive like a country disputing over land, or something small like your friend’s new television, we’ve all been jealous of what someone else has. No, it’s not a sin to want a new television or a new car or a new house. But ultimately we need to remember that God is our provider. He gives us all that we have, and He can take it away just as easily. We need to stop measuring our self worth by what we own. If there is something that we need, God will make sure that we have it. Not want, it’s not about want. For the same reason you wouldn’t give a hungry child that large bar of chocolate that they’ve been crying for all day, God knows that a new car, or TV, or house is fickle and only new for a day. After that, we’ll want something new again. But the things that truly endure and never grow old, are the things of God, and only He can provide them.
What is the gospel?…
So where does this leave you? Can you truly say that you’ve kept any of the Ten Commandments? I certainly haven’t. Even if you think you’ve kept most of it, you’re still in trouble.
“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”
But scripture is very clear that there is not one righteous person among us. Everyone has broken God’s law, and everyone is deserving of judgment. Don’t fool yourself into eternal damnation:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Not feeling so confident now, are you? And what’s worse, is that our sin has separated us from God forever! And on judgment day, when you stand before Him, you will be found guilty for breaking God’s law, and God will carry out His punishment.
The same way we would expect a good judge to send away murders, and rapists, and child molesters to prison, we know that our good and holy God must send away wicked-hearted sinners to hell.
Hell is a real place. It is where God will pour out His wrath and judgment on those whom have rejected and hated God. There is no parole. There is no early release. There is no end. It is an eternal separation from God’s mercy and grace; and the eternal presence of His wrath and condemnation.
I would hope that this would be of great concern to you right now. And if it is, then that’s a good sign. Remember when I told you that the gospel meant “good news”. Well, now I get to tell you what that good news is!
The good news is that God has done something incredible, so that guilty sinners like you and I won’t have to go to hell. God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ to this earth to fulfill the law for us. Jesus was born to the virgin Mary and was conceived by the Holy Spirit, so that He would be born without sin. And Jesus lived a perfect, and sinless life by obeying all of the Father’s commands.
Later in His life, Jesus began to preach the words of His Father, heal the sick, and perform miracles. And by His proclamation of the will of God, Christ’s words and His deeds brought upon Himself the hatred of the Jewish leaders who believed that He was a liar.
Jesus was then betrayed by one of His own disciples, falsely accused of blasphemy by the Pharisees, and then condemned to be scourged and crucified by the Romans. And so Jesus suffered and died on the cross at Calvary. By this, He took upon Himself the wrath of God for all the sins of God’s adopted children.
Jesus took our place on the cross and paid our ransom for the sins that we committed. And three days after His death, Christ rose from the dead; defeating death once and for all. Now, all of those who believe in Him as Lord and Savior, and turn away from their sin in repentance, have been guaranteed eternal life, and an everlasting union with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
All who look upon Jesus alone for their salvation, and confess their sin before God; have died with Christ and will be risen up on the last day; and now have hearts of flesh that will seek the fruits of righteousness as opposed to the works of wrath. The Holy Spirit resides within us, and we reign with God in the heavenly places, even now.
Either you will hear these words as foolishness and continue in your unbelief, or the Holy Spirit has begun a good work in you, and the light of the gospel has begun to transform your heart, giving you ears to hear the truth of God’s holy word. That Jesus is the Son of God, and He is the only path to salvation. Jesus Himself said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – (John 14:6).
What is the gospel?..
… The gospel is grace …
… The gospel is mercy …
… The gospel is love.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16