By Will Hall, Message Editor
ALEXANDRIA – In many ways the Gospel message is a simple one.
Indeed, John 3:16 captures the hope and promise in a single verse: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Regardless of what Bible translation you use, the meaning is clear. God has a plan for saving you and me for eternity.
BASICS OF BELIEF
There are a number of passages which explain what it means to “believe in Him.”
Romans 10:13 announces that “whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” and Luke 18:13 demonstrates such a plea must be made in a spirit of repentance, recording how a tax collector, eyes down and beating his chest, cried out, “O God, have mercy on me a poor sinner!”
Other texts detail how repentance, a change in life’s direction, begins with a heartfelt profession of Jesus as Lord of your life based on an authentic belief in His physical resurrection (Romans 10:9-10).
In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God reveals one must humble himself before seeking repentance.
The sequence of His instruction is clear … before praying or seeking God’s face, and in order to be strengthened to turn from one’s wicked ways, one must first humble himself.
In fact, this Scripture sets the foundation for understanding that one must humble himself in order to be successful in any spiritual process.
For salvation, one must humble himself, for restoration of fellowship with Christ, one must humble himself. In order to revive broken relationships with a fellow believer, one or both parties must first humble themselves.
But the heart of the matter is the Bible says those who believe in Him – “receive Him” – receive the gift of salvation, explaining that “to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
RICHNESS OF THE MESSAGE
Although the Gospel message essentially is a simple one, there is rich texture to the Good News.
Virgin Birth. The virgin birth explains Christ’s divinity, and the joining of His divinity with our humanity adds depth to our understanding about His love for us. He left perfection to come live among our corruption. It also helps us understand the relationship He seeks with us – one of continuous fellowship. Christ was tempted in every way but did not sin for the simple fact of His very nature – He never separated His humanity from His divinity. It’s a message to us how we can overcome temptation. If we remain in Him, our humanity connected with His divinity, we can avail of His strength to overcome.
Sinless Life. His sinless life is proof of His unbroken union as fully man and fully God. But it also qualified Him to die on behalf of each of us. John the Baptist declared in the wilderness, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). No one else was unblemished and could serve as the sacrifice for the sins of all humanity.
Substitutionary Death. The trial, torture and crucifixion of Jesus all begins with His taking the place of Barabbas, a criminal who robbed and killed others (John 18:40; Acts 3:14). But the truth is, Jesus took your place and mine on the cross. He did not pass on the cup of suffering given to Him, but followed His Father’s will that He should atone for our sins (Matthew 26:39). Keep in mind Christ said if we have hatred in our hearts we have committed murder (Matthew 5:21-26) and if we lust for someone in our heart we are guilty of adultery (Matthew 5: 27-30). Indeed, it seems the only difference between hatred and murder, and, lust and adultery, is opportunity to commit the act.
Physical Resurrection. Christ is risen! The truth of the biblical accounts is too overwhelming to believe less. He was physically raised from the dead, visited many witnesses, including 500 brethren at one time (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) and made multiple public appearances for 40 days straight, preaching the Kingdom of God (Acts 1:1-3). Moreover, He showed us the resurrection was not meant just for Him. Matthew 27:52-53 attests that “graves” were opened “and many bodies of saints who slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” We can believe in His resurrection and know for certain we will be raised as well – the empty grave is not an empty promise.
Imminent Return. Our conversion resulted in a new creation within us (2 Corinthians 5:10), but our resurrection will be to a new body – no more tears, no more sickness, no more concerns about whether we will live through tomorrow (Revelation 21:4) – and a new Heaven and new earth (2 Peter 3:7, 10). Christ promised he was preparing a place for us, a room in His Father’s mansion, and that he was coming back for us, Himself (John 14:2-3). Our reign with Him during the millennium and our eternal life in His presence will be something of wonder. The Bible says “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man” the things He is preparing for us (2 Corinthians 2:9). But it hints at the splendor and the fulfillment we shall experience (Revelation 4:1-11; 21:10-23; 22:1-5). Jesus told His disciples He came to give life, and that it would be abundant (John 10:10). But nothing will compare with the learning, the worship, the sensations we will encounter when He comes to receive us again.
CELEBRATE THE GOOD NEWS
This Easter, celebrate the power and simplicity of the Good News.
Take time to remember how it changed you, and intentionally share this transforming message with someone else.
But also take time to enjoy the richness of the Gospel and reflect on the completeness of how God has provided for your life here, and for eternity.
He is risen, and for those who believe, He’s coming back for you and me!