In a previous post I outlined the original gospel – the “good news” of Jesus Christ – for anyone who may be searching or just curious. I say “original” because over the centuries it has often been changed, corrupted, added to, diminished, ignored, discarded or forgotten. Paul’s definition, as I noted, makes plain the first century gospel, the one that “turned the world upside down”.
This post is not intended to offer evidence, but I want to briefly discuss the significance of each point of the gospel. If you want scriptural reference for anything I’m writing, let me know.
1 WE CAN BE FREE OF THE PENALTY FOR SIN
“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”
So many efforts have been made by enemies of the true gospel to wipe this fact from history and the minds of men. Even large organizations purporting to be spreading the gospel have really been attempting to destroy it. Why is the sacrifice of Christ so important, and why is his death so vital?
Our sin, yours and mine, has separated us from a perfect, holy God, because He cannot tolerate sin – He cannot wink at it or ignore it and live with it. He cannot populate His heaven with people who are opposed to His ways. Good-bye to politically correct “tolerance” of certain lifestyles. Not only this, but the product of sin is death, both physical and spiritual. It affects us all, no matter how good we may think we are: none of us can match up to God’s standards. God has to be true to His own nature, and He cannot deny His justice any more than He can deny His love.
God loved us and He had a plan to destroy sin and ultimately its outcome – death. The plan was made even before the creation of the world. God’s plan was to send his son to earth as a man, and to die as a sacrifice for sin. Only Christ could fulfill that mission, because only Christ was sinless and perfect. When Jesus died on the cross, (and not before) he satisfied God’s holy justice, and paid the “price” of our sin.
This does not mean that we do not sin any more, it means that there is nothing standing between us and our creator, except our own reluctance, and our determination to continue in sin. If we turn from our sin, we are completely forgiven, and we are in a right relationship with God. Paul said:
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8: 1).
Untold numbers of individuals, churches, denominations, religions and organizations have piled and continue to pile more requirements, laws, regulations and commitments onto their followers, claiming that these are necessary to gain God’s acceptance, or that only commitment to the organization and its rules can ensure salvation. This is totally false, and is really an attack on the gospel, because the death of Jesus Christ has entirely paid for our sin. It is not possible for us or for any human go-between or organization to pay the price of our sin. It is arrogant and futile to think that we can, and it is an insult to the sacrifice of Christ.
Jesus said “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11: 26), he did NOT say “whoever believes and goes to XYZ church and gives at least ten percent of their income”!
I’m not saying that we can live however we want to live – we cannot, but if we turn from sin, and to Jesus who takes away our sin, we are completely forgiven.
“According to the Scriptures…”
The sacrifice of Christ was foretold, prophesied, and written down hundreds of years before it happened. As an example, read Isaiah chapter 53. An entire copy of the book of Isaiah was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, and there is virtually no difference between it and what we have in our Bible today.
2 OUR SIN WAS BURIED WITH CHRIST
“…He was buried…”
Jesus “became sin” for us. He was buried in a tomb, contrary to many modern attempts to de-deify Christ and write another story of his life. You don’t bury someone who isn’t dead. His disciples witnessed his death. The Roman guard sealed and guarded the tomb, at the request of those who wanted him dead and who gloated over his death. They ensured that he was dead and buried.
Our sin was buried with him, and baptism is symbolic of our association with him, and with the burial of our sin and our past sinful lifestyle.
3 WE CAN HAVE NEW LIFE NOW, AND ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST
“…he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…”
The doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus has been under constant attack, even from within the church. No wonder, because it is one of the most essential doctrines, perhaps the most essential. Without it the gospel is empty. The resurrection of Jesus demonstrates his power over death, his divine nature, and his ability and willingness to give us eternal life with him, as he promised very clearly many times. It is the resurrection which gives us hope for the future, and which puts our earthly life into its proper context and perspective. Our present physical body is very temporary and weak, but our resurrected body will be full of eternal life force. Again, his resurrection was foretold in Old Testament Scriptures (see Acts 2: 27 – 31 and 13:34 – 37, with Psalm 16:10).
4 HE DEMONSTRATED HIS POWER OVER DEATH TO HIS DISCIPLES
“…and that he appeared…”
Paul listed those who had seen Jesus alive after his resurrection. He was the last to see him. Those who went about spreading the good news had nothing to gain except persecution and death. Yes, people do give their lives to become martyrs to other religions, but no-one will die for something that he knows is untrue. Neither did they KILL in order to spread their beliefs or agenda. Instead they risked and in many cases lost their own lives.
Paul, when converted, voluntarily gave up his position of influence and power to become a hunted and hounded man. His enemies complained that he had “turned the world upside down”. There was no timid Kum-Ba-Yah – type cowering in quiet corners for Paul: he wanted to tell the world, not that he had a new set of principles and rules to teach them, but that Christ had risen from the dead, and that he had seen him. He suffered multiple attacks and attempts on his life, before finally being executed, – such was his conviction that the gospel was true. He was prepared to die, as they all were, because they were convinced of Christ’s resurrection, and that His resurrection ensured theirs, just as Christ had promised. The promise is available to all who accept the gospel.