The Gospel

1 Corinthians 15:1–5 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.

Removing the Barriers Between Us and God

In the beginning, God created man in His own image, and man enjoyed a harmonious relationship with his Creator. But soon, that first man and woman — and every man and woman since — turned away from God’s holiness and perfection, placing a barrier between us and God — our sin.

Each of us has done wrong. We may not have murdered or stolen, but there are many sins — lying, anger, dishonoring parents, wrong attitudes or motives, cheating, unkind thoughts … The Bible says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) All of our good deeds and actions added together cannot equal God’s standard of perfection. Everyone is guilty before God because we have all done wrong. “As it is written, ‘there is none righteous, not even one.’” (Romans 3:10) The result of our sin is death — not physical death, but eternal separation from God.

However, God is not merely holy, He is also just and love. He does not simply condemn us for our sin and leave us to our punishment. God, our loving Father, made a way for us to be reconciled back to Him. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Jesus was God in a human body. He was not guilty of any wrongdoing; He did not deserve any punishment from God, but yet He willingly offered Himself in our places, and accepted the punishment for our sin. “[God] made [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6–8)

Our sin separates us from God, but God loved us enough to send His Son, Jesus, to take our punishment. That does not mean that every person is automatically accepted by God. It does not mean that we are automatically forgiven because we are baptized or join a church. In order to be reconciled to God and enjoy His forgiveness, we must recognize and admit our guilt before God, believe in Jesus’ death in our place, and accept God’s free gift of salvation.

“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; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Romans 10:9–13)

God loves each of us. He does not differentiate between genders, nationalities, ethnicities, political ideologies or economic levels. His love and forgiveness are available to all people everywhere. When we believe that Jesus died for our sins, and trust that God will forgive our sins when we ask Him to, then Jesus will remove the barrier of our sins, and there will no longer be anything to separate us from God. Our sins are forgiven for all of eternity. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

God’s gift of salvation is based on His love for us, Jesus’ death for us, and God’s power to raise Jesus back to life. It is not based on any merit or actions of our own. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9) “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) What wonderful news!

The Life-Giving Response

When one recognizes that he/she is a sinner, and that Jesus Christ received the just penalty for each individual’s sin, he/she is a candidate for the forgiveness of sins and for entrance into a meaningful life. All that remains in order to receive forgiveness of sins and the potential for a meaningful life, is the placing of personal trust in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ for one’s sins. Jesus Christ died on behalf of sinners and He desires that sinners come to Him to receive personal salvation and an abundant life.