THE GOSPEL ILLUSTRATED
The gospel (good news) is an account of what God has done to give us eternal life through Jesus Christ. Life in Christ is the gift of a personal relationship with God, the abundant, eternal life flowing from union and communion with God, who created us and saved us for this purpose.
THE GOSPEL AS STORY
The gospel (good news) is an account of what God has done to give us eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Life in Christ is the gift of a personal relationship with God
and the abundant, eternal life flowing from union and communion with God,
who created us and saved us for this purpose.
God made us in his image for the purpose of knowing and loving him and participating in his mission in the world. Thus, he created us with bodies and souls so that we have the ability to know him in a personal relationship, to reflect his character in our relationships with others, and to work with the resources of God’s world in ways that cultivate life and beauty. Our uniquely human powers of mind, heart, will, and language are gifts of God make it possible for us to receive and enjoy eternal life in Christ.
But human beings rejected a relationship with God and brought evil (sin) into the world. We have made created things into our “gods” by seeking our ultimate love, meaning, worth, and joy in people, achievements, or possessions. But none of these other “gods” can save or satisfy us when we use them to replace the one true Creator as our ultimate devotion and hope, and we hurt ourselves and others by trying to rely upon them as “gods.” The result is spiritual bondage. We are enslaved to fear and selfish desires that we cannot control, and we are simply unable to love others and do good in all the ways that we know we should. We cannot atone for the wrong we have done, and our corruption is so deep and powerful that we cannot change and save ourselves in ways that can make us truly good as we know we should be.
The good news (gospel) is that God has pursued us in love to rescue us from evil so that his good purposes in creation would not be thwarted by human rebellion. God ultimately came into history as a human being in Jesus to be the King (Christ) who seeks and saves people lost in the darkness of sin and death so that they might know him and love him. Jesus lives in perfect love and communion with God the Father, suffered death to take the consequences of our sin upon himself as a sacrifice for us, and rose from the dead to conquer even death itself. As the God-man who reigns over the whole creation, he sends his Holy Spirit to dwell within us so that we can know his personal presence, be reconciled to God and one another in the community of Jesus’ followers (church), and begin to be transformed and purified by his love. It is this gift of love that liberates us from the effects of sin and death to love and serve him and accomplish all the noble purposes for which God created us in relationships, work, and service.
This rescue mission of God not only begins to heal what is broken now but will ultimately bring the whole church and the whole creation to full resurrection and full maturity and glory forever.
HOW DO WE RESPOND?
IS THE GOSPEL TRUE?
The gospel of Christ claims to be the true story of the world, the most ultimate account of the origin, meaning, purpose, and destiny of humanity and of the whole universe. If the gospel is true, then it is the most important of all truths to believe.
But it would be foolish to believe such a large claim unless we can know that the gospel is grounded in reality. Can we know that it is true with a proper rational confidence? Are there solid reasons and evidences to support belief in a Creator God who made us in his image and has come to deliver us from evil in Jesus?
Many scholars have scrutinized and challenged the gospel, the Bible, and the Christian faith in almost every conceivable way for many centuries. And yet the Christian gospel continues to win the acceptance and trust of people from every social class and educational background among a greater diversity of people all over the world than any other movement or religious or philosophical tradition in history has ever achieved. The Christian faith has provided intellectual and ethical foundations for scholars in every field of study, for movements of social reform, and for institutions and traditions in law, medicine, art, education, business, and government. Because of this long history of questioning and research, there have never been so many high-quality resources for critically examining the truth of the gospel of Christ.
As an introduction to these kinds of resources, you can look on this site on the page Reasons to Believe. These resources are just the tip of the iceberg.
IF IT IS, THEN WHAT?
If you find yourself convinced that the gospel is true, then you are ready to embark on the adventure of receiving life in Christ.
Entering a reconciled relationship with God in Christ means not only believing that the gospel of Christ is true but also entrusting yourself to God and seeking to know him in a personal way. This entails what the Bible repenting and believing in Christ.
Repenting is turning away from one’s old life apart from God and turning toward God through Christ. This turning away means acknowledging and confessing to God that you are guilty of disobeying him and broken by sin and in need of the forgiveness and life that only he can give you.
Believing in Christ means asking God to save you from sin and death by forgiving you and giving you new life in Christ and committing to love and follow God in all of your life.
You can use this prayer to express your repentance and belief to God:
"Lord Jesus, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever dared believe, but through you I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you for paying my debt on the cross, taking what I deserved in order to offer me complete forgiveness. Knowing that you have been raised from the dead, I turn from my sins and receive you as my Savior and Lord. Amen."
The spiritual journey of life in Christ is not an individual one. Rather, becoming a Christian means becoming a son or daughter in God’s worldwide family of the followers of Christ. Joining the family requires joining and becoming an active member of a local church in order to form relationships with other Christians and experience their love and support and also to use your gifts to serve your new spiritual family and to serve your community with them.
Talking with a pastor or another knowledgeable Christian friend is an important step
in responding to the gospel and finding a church to join.
If you live in St. Louis and would like to talk with someone about joining a church,
please contact Pastor Mike Farley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or Pastor Ben Tzeng (email@example.com).
We would love to hear your doubts, questions, and concerns, and walk with you to help you know how to receive life in Christ and to become an active follower of Christ within the context of a local church.