The core message of Christianity is called the gospel—a word the simply means “good news.” The gospel is good news about who God is, who we are, and how we can have a relationship with him. This good news can be summarized briefly in four main “chapters.”
CHAPTER 1: GOD
God reveals. The only way we can know anything about God is if he chooses to speak to us about Himself. And we believe God has done this. He has done it in a general way in nature (Romans 1:19), in a special way in and through the words of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16), and in an ultimate through Jesus (John 1:18; Hebrews 1:1-2).
God creates. The first thing that God reveals to us in the Bible is that he is the Creator of all things (Genesis 1:1; Hebrews 11:3). He created human beings in his image to know, love, worship, and glorify him. (Psalm 100:3; Revelation 4:11).
God reigns. God has also revealed that as our Creator, he is also our Ruler—that is, we’re accountable to him (Psalm 99:1). We are called to glorify God by loving and obeying him perfectly (Deuteronomy 11:1).
CHAPTER 2: GUILT
Our rebellion. Rather than reflect God’s perfection through love and obedience to Him, all people have chosen to reject God, ignore the truth about him, and go their own way (Romans 1:21), a disposition that the Bible calls "sin." There is no one who is not complicit in this rebellion: all human beings are separated from God (Romans 3:10-11).
Our judgment. This rejection of God, our rightful Creator and Ruler, amounts to cosmic treason. As a result, we are alienated from him and are justly condemned to face the penalty of his perfect, just, and righteous wrath—a terrible, eternal fate that the Bible calls “hell” (Romans 1:32; 2:5).
Our inability. Our rejection of God is so complete that we have become entirely enslaved to our sinful, rebellious disposition. We are utterly incapable to return to God and restore our relationship with him. Not even trying our best to obey God’s law can pay back the debt incurred by our guilt (Romans 3:20). We need a Rescuer.
CHAPTER 3: GOSPEL
Jesus’s life. God sent his Son to become a man—Jesus of Nazareth—and to be the Rescuer we so desperately need (Matthew 1:21; John 1:14). Jesus, was both fully God and fully human. He was like us in every way, except that he never sinned. He always lived in perfect obedience to God (Hebrews 4:15). He lived the life we should all have lived.
Jesus’s death. Although Jesus was perfect, he was put to death on a cross as if he were a rebel (1 Corinthians 15:3). But on the cross he was not suffering punishment he deserved, but rather the punishment we deserve (Isaiah 53:4-6). He gave himself to die as our substitute, taking upon himself our condemnation and judgment (1 Peter 3:18). He died the death we all deserve to die.
Jesus’s resurrection. Three days after He died Jesus was physically raised to life again (Mark 16:6; 1 Corinthians 15:4), validating the truthfulness of Jesus’s claims and verifying that God had accepted his sacrifice as full, sufficient, and final payment for sin (Romans 4:25).
CHAPTER 4: GRACE
Grace offered. God offers Jesus to be the Rescuer of all people, and the salvation he provides is by grace—that is, it is a gift. We do not deserve, nor can we earn, God’s forgiveness by anything that we do. He offers it to us freely because of what Christ has done (Romans 3:24; Ephesians 2:8-9).
Grace received. The offer of grace is free, but it’s not automatic. To actually be forgiven, we must receive God’s grace in God’s way: through personal repentance and faith (Mark 1:15-16; Acts 20:21). To repent means to turn from our rebellion, admit our sin, and acknowledge that we need to be rescued (Acts 3:19). Faith is believing that what the Bible teaches about Jesus is true, transferring your trust away from your works, and relying entirely on Christ and his work as the only basis for your acceptance with God (Romans 4:4-5).
Grace assured. God’s promise in the gospel is that whoever repents and trusts in Jesus alone to rescue them will not suffer judgment but instead has their sins freely and forever forgiven and receives eternal life (Romans 5:9-11, Romans 8:1). At the same time, God’s Spirit gives us life and works in us to make us willing and able to live for Him (Romans 8:4).
If you want to place your trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and to be made right with God, you can express your trust in a prayer like this:
God, I admit that I have rebelled against you. I admit that I deserve your judgment, and I know that I cannot save myself by anything I do.
I am transferring my trust away from myself and anything that I think I can do to earn or deserve your favor. Instead, I want to rest my trust entirely on Jesus and what he has done in my place. I believe that he died to take my punishment and that you raised him from the dead, proving that his sacrifice has paid for sin in full.
Thank you for the promise that whoever trusts Jesus to save them will not face judgment but will be fully and forever forgiven. From now on I want to stop rebelling against you. Instead, I want to live for you, with you as my King, and to do what is pleasing to you. Amen.
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