A Fresh Look at the Gospel

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Galatians 1:3-4)

In Galatians 1:6-7 the apostle Paul says, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” Which brings up the question, what is “the gospel of Christ”?

I’ve been rereading Timothy Keller’s Galatians For You recently, and he gives a really solid answer. He points out that a “comprehensive outline of the gospel message” includes:

  • Who we are;
  • What Jesus did;
  • What the Father did; and
  • Why God did it.[1]

First, Keller explains we are “helpless and lost.” We are desperately in need of rescue. In that we are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), we are unable to help ourselves. Romans 3:23 explains that all [including you!] have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” As sinners, all we deserve is death (Romans 6:23). But God! 

And that brings us to the second point of Keller’s outline: What Jesus did. He “gave himself for our sins.” As Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We didn’t have to clean ourselves up first; we didn’t have to perform a whole litany of good works in an effort to somehow compensate for our sins. Jesus died in our place, paying the penalty for sin that we so richly deserve. Keller explains that Jesus’ death was substitutionary in nature:

“Substitution is why the gospel is so revolutionary. Christ’s death was not just a general sacrifice, but a substitutionary one. He did not merely buy us a ‘second chance’, giving us another opportunity to get life right and stay right with God. He did all we needed to do, but cannot do.”[2]

Again, Ephesians 2:4-5—“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved….”

Third, Tim Keller explains what God did—He “accepted the work of Christ on our behalf by raising Him ‘from the dead’ (v 1) and by giving us the ‘grace and peace’ (v 3) that Christ won and achieved for us.”[3]

When you stand before God one day, you will stand there robed in the righteousness of Christ. Your sins will be covered, forgotten, cast away, because of what Jesus did for you on the cross.

Now, why did God do that? Why did He send His Son? Why did Jesus die on the cross? Why would God accept Jesus’ sacrifice as an acceptable payment for our sin debt? Because of His grace. Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

But perhaps we can add another most familiar passage here to reinforce what God has done, and why He has done it:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)

We have recently celebrated Christmas when we remember that Jesus came into the world to be our Savior. We will soon commemorate Easter when Jesus went to the cross as our substitute. Paul told the Corinthians, “Now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).  

On a recent broadcast Lee Strobel explains what you should do next:

“John 1:12 says, ‘But as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in his name.’ And that verse forms an equation. I call it the faith formula of how to become a follower of Jesus: believe + receive = become. So believing, in and of itself, is not enough; to have intellectual knowledge is not enough; to know about Jesus is not enough. We need to receive Him as our forgiver and as our leader.”

My friend, if you have not yet accepted Jesus’ incredible gift, now is the day to receive the gospel for yourself. You can learn more about how to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation here: https://jashow.org/how-to-become-a-christian/ 

  1. Timothy Keller, Galatians For You (God’s Word For You) (The Good Book Company. Kindle Edition), pp. 11-12.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid., p. 12.

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