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Q & A

What is the Gospel?

A Biblical Response by Elder Bill Leifholtz

The Gospel is good news! The good news is that God, in His infinite mercy, sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die for sinners.

What is sin? Sin is the failure to keep God's commandments perfectly. For example, God's commands tell us, "Thou shall not kill." We may say we have never physically killed anybody, but when we have anger in our heart towards someone, we are breaking that commandment. There are sins of omission (we don't do what we should), and sins of commission (we do things that we shouldn't).

Sin entered into the world through one man: Adam. Adam disobeyed God by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam walked in perfect harmony with His Creator up to that point. But that harmony was broken with Adam's sin. The human race sinned in Adam and we have received his sinful nature. The Bible tells us that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) As Adam's sin separated him from a right relationship with God, we also are not in a right relationship. We are at war with God in our sinful nature.

Although the Bible clearly teaches that God is a God of love, He is also a God who requires justice. As we sin against each other and against God, our deeds cry out for justice. All evil must be punished by a Good God. There are no exceptions. The Lord is a Righteous Judge. He is not like human judges who may "wink" at an offense or display their own corruption, giving in to bribes and favoritism. God must execute justice. The lawbreaker must pay for his offense one way or another. We can pay for our offense in a place the Bible calls Hell. Hell is a real place where the sinner is separated from God, and where extreme torment is administered, as the Bible describes.

God has provided a remedy for us. He has sent His only begotten Son to free us from the sentence of Hell, and has taken our punishment upon Himself by dying on the cross.

"But, God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation". (Romans 5:8-11) To clear the guilty, God requires the shedding of blood. "And without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins." (Hebrews 9:22)

In the Old Testament, God required the slaying of a perfect, spotless lamb to make atonement for the sins of the people. The sacrifice pointed to Jesus, the Perfect Lamb of God. "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) It took God Himself, the Lord Jesus, to live in fulfillment of the perfect requirements of the law, something you and I could never do, and become a sinless sacrifice on our behalf. We could never live up to God's perfect standards, revealed in the Ten Commandments. We can never be good and do good as God requires. The Commandments are a guide and used to show us how helpless and hopeless we really are, and they point us to Christ for the salvation of our souls.

The people of the Old Testament were saved by faith in the Savior to come. We, today, are saved by faith in the Savior who has come, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the only method God has established for salvation. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me." (John 14:6) Also, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed." (Galatians 1:8)

When Jesus died on the cross, a wonderful exchange took place for those who put their trust in Him. He took our sins and we received His righteousness. "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." (Romans 4:3) "But to him who does not work, but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness." (Romans 4:5)

My hope is that if you do not already have a relationship with Christ that your estrangement with God will come to an end. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved." (Acts 16:31) Go to God in prayer and admit you are a sinner. Ask for His mercy, which is found in Christ. "A broken and contrite heart, these, O God, You will not despise." (Psalm 51:17) After you come to God, confess your sins and accept HIm into your heart. You will receive His forgiveness and be saved. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) This acceptance, this new life in Christ, the Bible calls being 'born again'. You will become a new creature through Him and want to follow in His footsteps. Jesus says, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3) Being born again is not some class of Christian, sect or cult. The Bible says a true Christian is born again. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." (1 Corinthians 5:17)

The Bible also commands us to repent. Repentance is a turning away from sin. True faith in Christ will automatically make us repent. As new creatures in Christ, we will desire and follow God's will (though imperfectly) and His commands will be a delight rather than a burden. Finally, we will pass from death to life and will enjoy the wonders of heaven in perfect joy and bliss with the Triune God, the angels, and our saved loved ones who have gone before us. The Bible describes heaven as a place where "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love him." (1 Corinthians 2:9) The first question of The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, "What is the chief end of man?" The answer is, "To glorify God and enjoy Him FOREVER!"

Our desire for you at Third Reformed Presbyterian Church is that you trust in Christ as He is offered in the Gospel: The Good News!

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