What is the Gospel? How can men and women be reconciled to God? The story goes back a long way, right back to the Garden of Eden
Through Adam’s Sin
The Gospel really starts with the character of God and His purpose to create men and women to have fellowship with Himself. God is holy, pure and absolutely just. He hates sin (and evil) but because of His nature, He cannot ignore it. Everything in the Garden of Eden was given to Adam and Eve for their use except for one limitation.
Genesis 2:17 “…but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
As we consider the implications of this remember that death in Scripture does not mean ‘extinction’ but ‘separation.’ Physical life exists when our soul and spirit – the core of our being, are joined with our body. Physical death occurs when our soul and spirit, are separated from our body. Spiritual life exists when our soul and spirit – the core of our being is connected to God. And so spiritual death is to be cut off from God. When Adam sinned, he died spiritually, he was cut off from God and God put him out of the Garden of Eden. (Many years later he died physically). For Adam acceptance was replaced with rejection. We are directly descended from Adam; we carry his DNA and we share his sin. Paul puts it like this…
Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned…”
Through our Own Sin
Not only are we cut off from God because of Adam’s sin, but that we are individually and personally guilty of sin. Every one of us has sinned, no one is excluded.
Romans 3:22b-23 “…for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
Sin, in essence, is acting independently of God, whether in our thoughts words or deed. That includes failing to do what He commands as well as acting in ways which He terms sinful. The immediate consequence of sin is death; separation from God because of Adam’s sin and because of our own.
Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
There are also long term consequences to our sinfulness. Sin results in separation from God now, and exclusion from Heaven and an eternity in the Lake of Fire. Jesus, in the four Gospels, often speaks of what will happen to those who do not believe in Him. His words are graphic and describe conscious, eternal torment for those separated from God.
Matthew 25:41, 46 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels’…. ‘These will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’”
Human Beings Can Do Nothing about their Sin
There is nothing humans can do to undo our sin or bridge the gap between us and God. Paul says that it is impossible for mankind to become acceptable to God through their own efforts.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
It is impossible to undo what we have done, to unsay the harsh words we have used or undo our sinful actions. One sin on the part of Adam caused him to be cast out of the Garden of Eden. We have sinned many times and often thought little of it. Since the fall of mankind has devoted his efforts to becoming acceptable with God in many different ways. Trying to be ‘good enough’, doing good works, we judge ourselves ‘less sinful’ than others, we have turned to various ‘religions systems’. The truth is that there is only one basis of acceptance with God and that is being ‘In Christ.’ Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17…
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Then in Romans 8:1 “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
The best we can do, independently of God, is seen by Him as filthy rags and worthless.
Isaiah 64:6 “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
All have sinned and the punishment for that sin is death. Without God’s intervention, therefore, we would all face judgement and eternal punishment.
Christ has Already Done all that We Need
If God had not intervened the end would be eternal condemnation. But God did intervene and Christ has done everything we need to make it possible for our sin to be forgiven and our relationship with God to be restored.
1 Peter 2:24 “. . . and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”
God does not want anyone to perish and so He reached out in love to us. He can’t ignore sin, yet His ultimate desire is for men and women to be reconciled to Him. And so Jesus came into this world and paid the penalty for sin. The Lord Jesus Christ died on our behalf, for our sins so that we might be pardoned. Three days later He rose from the grave in triumphant victory to seal His victory.
We Must Trust in What Christ has Done and Nothing Else
The fact that Christ died for our sin does not mean that every sinner automatically receives a pardon. Forgiveness, pardon for our sin, is available and free; but conditions are attached and we need to look at these conditions. God’s Word calls us to repent and believe.
We Must Repent
Acts 3:19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”
Repentance is a word the Bible uses for ‘changing our mind’, basically, about the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to change our thinking about what God has revealed to us regarding; who He is, who Jesus is, our sinfulness and His provision for that sin through the cross.
Repentance, that change of mind, means much more than just being sorry for our sin. It involves acting on that mind change, accepting Jesus into our lives instead of rejecting Him and actively choosing to follow Him, making Him Lord of our lives. The other side of the coin is, repentance also involves believing.
We Must Believe
Acts 16:31 “They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
The word BELIEVE in the Bible means much more than just mental assent to some fact or doctrine. It involves action based on our changed beliefs. To believe then is to choose to respond in trust to God, to the message of the cross, to God’s invitation to come and follow Jesus.
“I speak to you an eternal truth: if you embrace my message and believe in the One who sent me, you will never face condemnation, for in me, you have already passed from the realm of death into the realm of eternal life!” (John 5:24, The Passion Translation)
New Life in Christ
When we come in repentance and faith to God, making Christ our Saviour and Lord, the Bible describes us as being ‘In Christ’. We are redeemed, forgiven, alive in God and connected to God. It is not merely a matter of getting something from God but we become someone that we never were before! Paul puts it like this in 2 Corinthians 5:17.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
He writes again of this changed life in Colossians 3:1-3 . . .
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
If you want to change your mind and follow Christ making Him Lord of your life you can acknowledge that desire and exercise faith in prayer. Your heart desire is more important than the words but you might pray something like this.
Heavenly Father, I repent of my sinful life and today I choose to believe that You have shown Your love for me, in that even though I was a sinner, Christ died for me. I acknowledge my sin and ask for Your forgiveness. Cleanse me Lord and help me, by Your grace to make you Lord of every area of my life and fill me with Your Holy Spirit.