If I can talk you into believing the gospel, then there is someone else who is able to talk you out of believing the gospel of Christ. But if God convinces you, then it is, in fact, a reality which cannot be taken away from you.
So, what is the gospel according to the Bible? ‘That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve’ (1 Corinthians 15:3b-5). Christ lived a life without sin which made him eligible to die in the place of sinners as their substitute, thus paying the penalty for their sins, which is eternal death. That is the essence of the gospel.
So then, what is sin? It is any word, thought, or deed that falls short of God’s righteous standards. Matthew 22:36-39 says, ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’
Now I know that you have not kept these commandments perfectly, because no one is able to live up to God’s righteous standards. We have a sin problem that has to be dealt with before we die. 1 John 1:8 says, ‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.’ You must trust Christ that he paid the sin debt as your substitute for your eternal salvation. We tend to take sin too lightly, but our eternal destiny hangs on our taking it seriously. Humanly speaking, can you imagine ‘hating’ something so much that you would be willing to cause your own son to die to bring about a remedy? Can you imagine God ‘hating sin’ so much and at the same time ‘loving people’ so much that he was willing to send his only Son to die for people who didn’t really care about God. Matthew 10:28 says, ‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.’ And 1Timothy 2:5,6a says, ‘For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men.’ ‘Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). ‘For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God’ (1 Peter 3:18a). ‘But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law’ (Romans 3:21-25a, 28). Faith in Christ is believing in Christ that he is who he claimed to be, God’s one and only Son. John 3:16-18 says, ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.’ Romans 6:23 says, ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). Romans 4:5 says, ‘However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.’ ‘I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life’ (John 5:24). John 6:40 says, ‘For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’
So after hearing these words of Scripture, there is no good reason why anyone would turn away from this offer from God who sent his only Son to die as your substitute so you don’t have to suffer the just consequences of your sins. Romans10:8-10, 13 says, ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Everyone who calls on the name of The Lord will be saved.’
With these things fresh in your mind, now would be a good time to ask God to make these things real to you. Go to a quiet place and pray to God confessing to him your falling short of his perfect standards. There is no such thing as a believer who does not sin. But as a believer in Christ as your Savior from sin, you will feel differently about doing wrong. As a Christian, you will no longer feel indifferent about sin but will strive to please the one who has rescued you from the power of eternal death. So, don’t try to clean up your life first before asking God to save you. It doesn’t work to try to clean up your life before confessing to God your sins and asking his forgiveness. Hebrews 11:6 says, ‘And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.’
Dennis R. Fry is a deacon in Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.