What is the gospel?

Do you know? I find it helpful to remind myself often – daily if possible. Believe me, I need to hear this often. I need to remind myself that this applies very personally to me, not just to everyone else out there.

God created everything we know – spoke it into existence with the power of only His voice. Galaxies, oceans, flowers, birds, clouds, stars, giraffes. And in the midst of this beautiful, God-glorifying, mind-boggling creation, He stooped into the dust, shaped man and woman, and breathed life into them with His own breath.

And we rebelled. We used God’s own breath to curse Him. And I mean we. I am not sharing this from a place of self-righteousness. I’m just as guilty.

Sin entered the world and the curse tainted everything: the world groans under its wait and humanity spiraled out of control. Sin affects all of us. But what is sin? Is it merely breaking the rules?

Sin is so much deeper – it is a condition that affects the depths of the human heart. We are not sinful people because we sin – that is like saying you have a cold because you cough. Sins are just a symptom of a deeper problem. We sin because we are sinful – we cough because we have a cold.

To be blunt – sin is death. It is not merely a “problem” for which we need self help. It is death that blinds us to God and his goodness, that bitters our taste for the sweeter things of heaven and teaches us to desire the muck of darkness. The Apostle Paul calls this the flesh or the sin nature. It is who we are in our rebellion – ungrateful, God-hating, self-indulging. We ought to give God His breath back.

Some people grasp this very well. I’ve heard people say before they were “too sinful” for God ever to forgive.

However, most people, I find, when asked why God would hypothetically let them into heaven, answer that they’ve been pretty good.

What does it mean to be good? Just what does God require?

In short, God requires complete, total, flawless perfection. Not a single sin once ever. Not a single inclination to indulge temptation. Not a single seemingly good action done for selfish reasons. He requires spotless, holy purity. Not goodness compared to other people around us. Goodness compared to Him.

No one, not a single person, can measure up to this.

So now what? Many people shirk at the idea of a wrathful and just God, preferring to focus instead on His love and good intentions toward us. The reality, though, is that His love and goodness demand His justice. He would not be a good or loving God if He turned a blind eye to the murderer who took a life, the rapist who destroyed a young woman, the anger and insensitivity and selfishness of someone (everyone) who has wronged another. We even desire His justice – mostly when we ourselves have been wronged in some way.

And God’s grace and mercy and love and goodness and beauty would be in no way ever compromised if He condemned every single person who ever sinned against Him – that is, every single person who ever lived – to an eternity in hell, the just punishment for our rebellion.

But.

Instead, to display His glorious grace and immense mercy, He Himself came to earth as Jesus Christ. Jesus lived, fully God and fully human. He experienced every temptation common to man and never once sinned. He did live life as a perfect, spotless, holy, pure, sinless human.

And then, God poured out all of His wrath for us on Jesus Christ as He hung on the cross.

Let me say that again, because it is so important and so incomprehensible. God, being a just God who, in His goodness, had to fully and completely punish every sin and rebellion ever committed against Him, chose to pour the full measure of his wrath and anger and punishment out on Jesus, who deserved absolutely none of it.

And then He chose to give the full blessing and favor that Jesus deserved for His perfect life to those who trust in Him.

Why did Jesus come and die? He came to live the perfect life that you and I never could hope to live. He came to take the full measure of God’s punishment for the sin-infected lives you and I do live so that there would be no punishment left. And He came to give the full measure of God’s blessing and favor which He deserved to those for whom He died.

As John MacArthur once said, “God treated Jesus on the cross as if He had lived your life, so that He could treat you as if you had lived Jesus’ life.”

Too sinful for God to forgive? Christ knows the full measure of the depths of your sin – He took the full punishment.

Good enough to make it on your own? You mock the life and death of Christ and fail to grasp His grace.

Repent of the rebellion and place your trust and hope in the work of Christ and the grace of the Father.

Questions or thoughts? Please comment or send me a message. If you’ve never put your faith in Christ and want to know how, I encourage you to find a community of believers. Find a good church (one that is passionate about the Word of God – a good basic measure of that is how much Scripture is used in the services) and speak to the pastor or elders. It is important to find solid Scriptural teaching and loving community as you learn and grow.

Finally, I will leave you with a video my husband and I love. We have been trying to incorporate reminding ourselves of the gospel into our daily lives, and many times simply re-watching this video has been helpful.

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