Category Archives: Salvific Gospel
How does a person get saved for eternity by Jesus. What is the gospel?
If you have made it here and you are reading these words, I hope that you will take the time to read a little further and help me with some sermon prep. Let me assure you that your name will not be used as a part of the sermon I am preparing.
I was recently at a conference with thousands of Christians and in the introduction we were asked to raise our hands to indicate how we came to turn from our sins and trust in Christ by faith. I was very surprised that a majority of the crowd came to Christ a certain way.
Please take the time to read carefully the options and indicate the way that God brought you to a saving faith in Christ. If none of the answers describe your experience, please briefly leave a comment.
Here’s where it might get tricky, so a little clarification might help. If a friend with an ongoing relationship invited you to a revival/camp/event, then pick the means that had the most influence for you hearing the gospel. Which one had the bigger impact? God may have used all of these things, but which one was most influential?
Thank you for your help and I hope God uses this to help you reflect on how God saved you and leads you to be thankful for the people in your life that shared their lives and the gospel.
I find it helpful to regularly summarize the gospel in different formats. It stirs and nourishes my soul and helps me to know and love the good news of Jesus our Lord. I want to constantly grow in my understanding and application of it. Don’t you?
Below is a gospel summary that I have been using for about a year now. I like it because it captures the transcendence of the gospel by way of biblical, historical narrative. The format below captures God’s redemptive plan from beginning to end as the greatest story ever told.
GOD – In the beginning God created everything and it was very good (Gen. 1:1 and 1:31). Creation means God has authority, and when combined with his goodness as creator, we understand God to be holy. God is holy, holy, holy!
MAN – As a part of this perfect creation, God created male and female and gave them everything they needed (Genesis 2:15-18). But they decided not to trust God, believed a lie and tried to be like God (Gen. 3:1-6). We all have gone astray in this way (Isa. 53:6 and Rom. 3:23). The Lord God, however, has lovingly pursued humans (Gen. 3:9-11) and promised to redeem (Gen. 3:15) and bless those who would trust Him (Gen. 12:1-3).
JESUS – In the Old Testament God promises a Forever King (1 Chronicles 17:11-14) who will be a Suffering Servant (Isa. 53:4-6) to take away the sins of man (Isa. 53:10-12). In the New Testament this Servant King comes and lives perfectly, dies in our place and rises again, overcoming sin and death (1 Cor. 15:3-8; Gal. 3:13-14).
What Jesus did for us is good news about bad news. What Jesus finished for God’s glory and our good is the gospel proper. I want to be clear, the gospel is not what I have, can or will do. It is what Jesus has done!
RESPONSE – The gospel of Jesus demands a response. Jesus Christ lived and died so that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life. Jesus did the righteous work of God for us and we must repent toward God and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). We can either receive what Christ has done or reject Him. We can trust God or trust ourselves. In the end, there are only two options.
RESULT – When we trust in the finished work of Christ: 1) We are justified; set free from past sin and shame. 2) We are sanctified; given the Holy Spirit and God begins freeing us from present sin. 3) We will be glorified; God will forever restore us and the creation to His original design (Rev. 21 and 22). This is good news.
What is the gospel? The gospel is the story of good news for sinful and guilty people.
Do you believe it? Then receive it by grace through faith.
Our Heavenly Father – through Jesus the Son – by the power of the Holy Spirit, I ask that You would:
- Transform and Save people from their selfish sin by faith in Christ alone (2 Cor. 5:15, 16-17, 21; 1 Pet. 2:9-10; Eph. 2:8-9).
- Continue to transform into the likeness of Christ those whom you have saved (2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Pet. 2:11; Eph. 2:10).
- Grant boldness to go into the world and proclaim Jesus to others, fulfilling the Great Commission (2 Cor. 5:18-20; 1 Pet. 2:9, 12; Matt. 28:29-20).
Lord, do what you want to do in me and through me; for your glory, the good of others and my joy! Amen!
On planet earth, good things can be dangerous things.
Water for instance is a good and necessary gift from God. No one can live without it. But it can also kill you. In 2005 a fraternity was hazing a pledge by forcing him to drink cups of water and he drank so many that it washed all the salt out of his heart and he died of a heart attack. Some water is necessary, but five gallons is deadly.
The “Roman Road” is another example of something good that can be dangerous – and by the way, this could be true of any gospel sharing outline or program. But before I suggest a danger, I want to identify some good.
- The Roman Road is the word of God that can save (Romans 10:17).
- The Roman Road is a good outline of some crucial gospel components. The Problem – 3:23 – “All have sinned.” The Substitutionary Solution – 5:8 “While were still sinners Christ died for us.” Death or Life? – 6:23 – “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Our Necessary Response – 10:9-10 – “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…”
- The Roman Road is manageable and memorable.
- Therefore, it is a good starting point to expand on God’s redemptive plan.
- I have no doubt that God can, and has, used the Roman Road to save people.
As for the danger I have in mind, which is in many ways is also a strength, the Roman Road is a short-hand gospel, or a condensed gospel. We might call it a reductionist gospel.
Imagine that reading the book of Romans is like being on a sightseeing tour and every chapter is a city or point of interest that is worthy of our observation and consideration. Traveling the Roman Road is like taking a sightseeing tour but missing the first stop, the second, the fourth, the seventh, the eighth and so on, with a lot of stuff missed on the stops that were made because of the effort to simplify or stay on schedule (keep attention). Another way to illustrate the potential hazard of the Roman Road is to imagine someone flying into a city and never leaving the airport but saying they have seen the city. Using these illustrations, we can guess that a lot would be missed and what is known is very superficial.
Let’s suppose we decide to take an unbelieving friend down the Roman Road, and so we show them that we all are sinners (Rom. 3:23), that Christ has paid our price (Rom. 5:8) and that there is hope for our insurmountable debt in Jesus (Rom. 6:23). Furthermore we show our friend how to respond to possess eternal life (Rom. 10:9-10). Our friend decides to accept the terms of the deal and goes on with their life, having no idea that Romans chapter eight, which we skipped, talks about the evidence the Spirit produces that is the proof the there was a legitimate transaction of sin for forgiving grace. Our little tour may have just cost someone their eternal life.
Someone might object, asserting that we would be trying to force a camel through the eye of a needle by trying to do too much. Or we would be asking people to drink out of a fire hydrant. Or they might say that we can’t say everything, every time.
And in response, all I want to say is that let’s make sure that we don’t say too little. Let’s make sure that we know the whole gospel so we can share the whole gospel (Acts 20:27). Let’s make sure we don’t gut the message of what God has done and wants to do.
After all, if all we needed was four passages, I suppose Paul wouldn’t have taken the time to write the rest of Romans.
One other thought. There are probably people who have said too little and run people into a ditch with no life-changing salvation, but I am afraid we have too many people that never attempt the Roman Road or any gospel proclamation. So let’s make sure we say something, but also make sure we say enough.
Mark Twain once said: “Church is good people standing in front of good people, telling them how to be good.” That is probably the way many see Christianity and church, and though there is a kernel of truth to this analysis, it is fundamentally wrong.
A biblical church is a people who gather in Christ to remind each other that we all like sheep have gone astray (1 Pet. 2:25) and that there is none righteous, not even one (Rom. 3:10-18). A true church will remind each other about how bad they are. But they won’t stop there. They will also remind each other that Christ lived perfectly (2 Cor. 5:21), died as a substitute for the unrighteous (Rom. 5:8), and resurrected, overcoming sin and death (1 Cor. 15:3-4) to reconcile us to God (2 Cor. 5:19). The gospel is that we are not good people, but God who is perfectly holy (Isa. 6:1-6) sent Jesus to save us from our sin. Our response is to acknowledge we have sinned against God and to trust all of our life to the entire person of Jesus Christ. It is then that God changes us to live righteously by the power of the indwelling Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Pet. 2:24; 1 John 3:23-24).
Have you turned to Christ by grace through faith? It’s the most important thing you will ever know and do. Ask someone who knows they are bad, but also knows that they are righteous in Christ and Christ alone (2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9). They know what church and Christianity really is.
The Whole Gospel (Acts 5:21; 20:27)
- There are the necessary facts of the gospel story. It is News.
- There is also what the gospel means. We must apply the facts; the news.
|The Necessary Facts||The Facts Applied|
|God is the Perfect Creator. God is holy, holy, holy.||God is the owner of His creation. We will all give an account.|
|People are rebellious and sinful. We have tried to create our own goodness. We want it our way. We are not holy.||People are born sinners and have rejected the LORD God. People are hopelessly separated from the perfect creator.|
|God sent Jesus, who is both God and man.
||God sent Jesus, His only begotten Son to die in our place because we could not live the perfect life He lived.|
You must get this: “Jesus did for us what we could never do for ourselves. You can’t earn God’s favor. Jesus did that for you with his life and then death on the cross.”
|Our Necessary Response.||We must commit our lives to the Whole person of Christ by repentance from sin and faith in Christ. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone.|
|The Spirit indwells us.||God’s Spirit changes us and keeps changing us into the image of the Son. We are a new creation empowered by the Spirit to obey and live to righteousness. This is the evidence of Salvation.|
“Tell the people the whole message of this new life.” Acts 5:20
“I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.” Acts 20:26-27
“Make disciples of all nations……teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20
Do you know the whole, complete, full gospel of Jesus Christ? Or do you know parts of it. Do you reduce it? I hope this video will help you to know and explain the whole gospel. There is nothing more important. Nothing.
This is John Stott’s summary of Acts 2:14-41:
Here, then, is a fourfold message – two events (Christ’s death and resurrection), as attested by two witnesses (prophets and apostles), on the basis of which God makes two promises (forgiveness and the Spirit), on the two conditions (repentance and faith, with baptism). We have no liberty to amputate this apostolic gospel, by proclaiming the cross without the resurrection, or referring to the New Testament but not the Old, or offering forgiveness without the Spirit, or demanding faith without repentance. There is a wholeness about the biblical gospel.
It is not enough to ‘proclaim Jesus.’ For there are many different Jesuses being presented today. According to the New Testament gospel, however, he is historical (he really lived, died, rose and ascended in the arena of history), theological (his life, death, resurrection and ascension all have saving significance) and contemporary (he lives and reigns to bestow salvation on those who respond to him). Thus the apostles told the same story of Jesus at three levels – as historical event (witnessed by their own eyes), as having theological significance (interpreted by the scriptures), and as contemporary message (confronting men and women with the necessity of decision). We have the same responsibility today to tell the story of Jesus as fact, doctrine and gospel. p. 81
The gospel is good news about bad news. The bad news is that every person is sinfully flawed in their nature and dead in their sin before a perfect and infinite creator God (Rom. 3:9-18, 23; Eph. 2:1). The good news is that God, being rich in mercy, sent Jesus to live perfectly, die as a substitution, and resurrect victoriously over sin and death (1 Cor. 15:1-11). The atonement Jesus made for sin is enabled by God’s grace through the power of the Holy Spirit and the atonement is applied by our response of repentance and faith (Acts 20:21). We cannot by our good works earn favor with God (Eph. 2:8-9). It is by grace through faith that we are made a new creation to live to righteousness (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:4-8; 1 Pet 2:24, Ephesians 2:10).
To summarize: God is perfect. You and I are hopelessly separated from God by our sin. Jesus is our only hope to have a relationship with God. You must turn from your sin and follow Jesus by faith alone, otherwise, you will perish.
The gospel is the living story that Jesus can turn your infinitely bad situation into eternally good news for God’s glory.
It is alarming how many people cannot articulate the true gospel of Jesus Christ in a succinct and confident way, and I am not talking about unbelievers, I mean people who profess to believe the gospel for salvation. Consider for a moment what we know and remember with vivid detail, that is in the grand scheme of things are unimportant. For example, I can tell you exactly what you need to know about how to use the remote to turn on the television in our home, what channel you need to turn to, and when you need to turn it on to watch Whale Wars. So what are the things that you can articulate with great specificity that have little or no eternal value? To say the least, is it not troubling that so many Christians cannot tell another person the very story that saved them from eternal separation from God so that they could be changed for heaven to worship the Triune God?
Here are some questions that might help you diagnose how well you know and love the gospel:
Can you give a succinct summary of the gospel without long pauses or stumbling over your words? Do you stumble over your address or how you met your spouse?
The gospel is good news. It is a story. Can you tell it? Which one is harder, to tell the story of Jesus or the story of your most recent vacation or some other eventful moment in your life?
Have you ever sat down and written the gospel out?
What are the essential elements of the gospel? The gospel is the grand story of 66 books that span at least 1500 years. What are the main points of the life-changing Bible story?
I tried to be pithy and tried to identify essential details of the gospel story with the summary below. We will never share the gospel until we love it enough to know it. If I were asked, this is how I would answer the question: “What is the gospel?”
The gospel is good news about bad news. The bad news is that every person is sinfully flawed in their nature and dead in their sin before a perfect and infinite creator God (Rom. 3:9-18, 23; Eph. 2:1). The good news is that God, being rich in mercy, sent Jesus to live perfectly, die as a substitution, and resurrect victoriously over sin and death (1 Cor. 15:1-11). The atonement Jesus made for sin is enabled by God’s grace through the power of the Holy Spirit and the atonement is applied by our response of repentance and faith (Acts 20:21). We cannot by our good works earn favor with God (Eph. 2:8-9). It is by grace through faith that we are made a new creation to live to righteousness (2 Cor 5:17; Eph 2:4-8; 1 Pet 2:24).
To summarize: God is perfect. You and I are hopelessly separated from God by our sin. Jesus is our only hope to have a relationship with God. You must turn from your sin and follow Jesus, otherwise, you will perish. The gospel is the living story that Jesus can turn your infinitely bad situation into eternally good news for God’s glory.