What is the Gospel Part 3- Jesus and Our Response
“Well, I have good news, and I have bad news. Which would you like to hear first?” Have you ever been on the receiving end of that question? I have. It’s not my favorite place to be. My mind is racing with all the possibilities that could be coming. What I’m hoping is that the good news is going to help me with the devastation caused by the bad news. That the best of the good news will be greater than the worst of the bad news. That’s not always how it goes, but it is fully true about good news from the Bible.
We have been seeking a simple definition of the gospel. We know the word is used a lot, sometimes to mean things ridiculously far from what it veritably declares. In our first post after looking at 1 Corinthians 15, we said that the gospel is the good news that God sent Jesus to die for sins and rise again, calling people to turn from their sin and believe in him for salvation. Yet there were some questions to answer and words to define. We needed to know the truth about God, the truth about sin and people, the truth about Jesus, and the truth about our response. We talked about God, sin, and people in our second post. That ended on some devastatingly bad news. The good news is, here we are in our third post to tackle the beautiful truths about Jesus and our response.
The Truth About Jesus
God has been on a rescue mission from the beginning. He told his people through the centuries that One was coming to make things right. This One would be God himself, the Great Shepherd, and would give his life to pay the price for our rebellion and treachery. (Ezekiel 37:24, Isaiah 53:5) And Jesus came. He lived the perfect life we could never live. In so doing, He revealed God. He showed us what the perfect image of God was, and how people are designed to live. People flocked to him. He taught, loved, healed, and proclaimed the kingdom of God.
Then he was killed. He didn’t bring ultimate healing or make things right the way many had expected. Rather he did what needed to be done. He died the death that we deserve on a gruesome cross. He took our punishment for the rebellion, treason, and corruption we had chosen. He was buried and rose again in power to justify us before God, though we deserve none of it. (1 Cor. 15:1-5, Rom. 5:9). He offers this new covenant relationship to people, reconciling them to God, forgiving their sin, and sealing them with the promised Holy Spirit to live in them. Jesus did everything necessary to bring us back intimacy with God, even though we were treasonous, rebellious, and stuck in our own passions. Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
The Truth About Our Response
The truth about our response is just as beautiful and unexpected. The mystery of the gospel is that it is offered to all—all who will repent and believe. (Acts 2:38, John 3:16, Ephesians 3:6) All who are willing to follow Jesus must count the cost, but they receive hope and true life from now on until forever. (Luke 9:23-26, John 6:40) This means that God becomes king of our lives once again. The good, close relationship with God we were made for is regained in Jesus. God, by His Spirit, moves us from spiritually dead to spiritually alive. Then, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in followers of Jesus, unchaining us from our sinful desires, so we can pursue holiness. Those who receive this good news become part of his people, his mission, his body, his church, and wait for the day when he will restore all things to good, in a new heavens and a new earth.
The Story of the World
That’s the news. It’s what each of us cannot ignore. Each person must decide what she is going to do with the truth about her sin and the claims of Jesus. Yet, the gospel is also the story of the world. The broad strokes of the gospel reveal that all of humanity is broken and sinful, though created to be faithful and good, and one day God will make the whole world new and right. When Jesus came, most thought he would conquer the oppressors and set them free from the Roman occupation. But instead Jesus died; he conquered the spiritual oppressors on the cross to bring freedom and launch his kingdom through his sacrificially-loving people and his Spirit rather than through an army. This kingdom has begun, but not all of the promises of peace, safety and righteousness have yet come about. However, Jesus will return one day in glory. Judgement will come, and the fulfillment of the promises. But God’s people and God himself are on mission within this story, at this time, until the end comes.
This is what paid for our wicked corruption, conquered evil, and provided salvation. This is the gospel. Jesus’ death and resurrection allows God to justly judge the world one day and destroy all evil and death without destroying us. This is our hope- a simple hope centered on Jesus.
So when we use the word gospel, it doesn’t just land us in the “in-crowd of orthodoxy.” It is truly the most powerful message in the world. It’s the offer to each of us. It’s the basis of our lives. And it’s the story of what is happening in this world.