A Summary of the Gospel
The word “Gospel” means good news. A Christian is a person who has savingly responded to the good news God offers in the Bible. Simply stated, the wonderful message is this: If we will turn from our sins, in true godly sorrow (that’s repentance) and believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ (that’s faith), God will forgive us of all our sins (past, present and future), pronounce us righteous in His sight and adopt us into His family for all eternity. A saving response to the Gospel requires both repentance and faith. Whenever a person repents and believes, he or she is converted. Putting it differently, such a person is saved.
Perhaps you may be asking, “Saved from what?” That’s a great question. The answer is, “from the wrath and justice of God which every sinner deserves." This is the reason the Son of God came to earth. He came to live the sinless life that none of us has lived and to take that perfect life to the cross in order to die a substitutionary death for all who would believe upon Him. In that death He made a full payment to God the Father for all of the sins of all who would trust Him. In other words, He completely satisfied the justice of God. To use an important biblical word, Jesus “propitiated” (satisfied) the wrath of God for everyone who will call upon Him as their Savior.
Here is another way of summarizing the Gospel. All of us were born with a sinful fallen nature and have broken God’s laws hundreds and thousands, perhaps millions of times! This law-breaking is the hard evidence that we are, in fact, sinners in rebellion to God. His holiness and justice require that all sin be punished. Either we must pay for our sins by going to Hell for all eternity, or we must find a perfect substitute who can pay for them. One way or the other, they must be paid for. This is where the good news comes in. God has graciously provided that perfect substitute in the person and work of His son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The promise of the Gospel is that whoever turns from their sins and believes upon Him will be saved for all eternity. That’s really good news! None of us were born Christians. We have to become Christians. We cannot be saved by our morality, righteousness, baptism, church attendance or good works. We can only be saved through turning from our sins by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Salvation is entirely through God’s kindness and mercy. None of the credit may be given to us!
There is one thing terribly missing in this brief explanation of the Gospel and how to become a Christian. Do you know what it is? It is the Word of God itself or should we say it's the Word of God Himself? Without His word declaring these things, what has been said so far amounts to only one more opinion of man added to the thousands already offered. But at the end of history, or when we die (whichever comes first), it won’t matter what man thinks about salvation. The only thing that will matter then is what God Himself says about it in His Word.
Now that the concept of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone has been briefly summarized, please observe that this is exactly what the Word of God teaches so plainly. The following Scriptures speak clearly about five things – of our sinful condition, God’s necessary judgment, His gracious provision of a Savior, how Jesus saves us by His death on the cross and what we must do in order to make this salvation ours. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick...” (Jer. 17:9) “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” (Matt. 15:19, 20) “…sin is lawlessness.” (I John 3:4) “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Rom. 3:23) “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to His own way…” (Isa. 53:6) “God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” (Ps. 53:2, 3) “…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Rom. 1:18) “…for our God is a consuming fire…” (Heb. 12:29) “…He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness...” (Acts 17:31) “Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ “ (Matt. 25:41) “And these will go away into eternal punishment…” (Matt. 25:46) “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Gal. 4:4, 5) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23) “…God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8) “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God…” (I Peter 3:18) “For our sake He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (II Cor. 5:21) “…repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13) “…Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31) “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
Dear friend, you have just read the very Word of God. If you have never before turned in godly sorrow from your sins and believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ as the only person who can atone for your sins and make you righteous in God’s sight, we lovingly urge you to do so now. Take God the Father at His word. Take the Lord Jesus Christ at His word. He has said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) “…I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) We tenderly beg you to throw yourself upon the mercy of God and find Him to be all that we have found Him to be. If you should desire help, counsel or prayer in seeking your salvation, please call any of the pastors of HBC. We would consider it a supreme privilege to lead you to our precious Savior. May the Lord be gracious to you in every needful way!
Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity joined with pow’r.
He is able, He is able, He is able,
He is willing; doubt no more.
Come, ye needy, come and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Ev’ry grace that brings you nigh,
Without money, without money, without money,
Come to Jesus Christ and buy.
Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Bruised and broken by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all:
Not the righteous, Not the righteous, Not the righteous –
Sinners Jesus came to call.
Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness he requireth
Is to feel your need of him;
This he gives you, This he gives you, This he gives you;
‘Tis the Spirit’s rising beam.
Lo! th’ incarnate God, ascended,
Pleads the merit of his blood;
Venture on him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude:
None but Jesus, None but Jesus, None but Jesus
Can do helpless sinners good.
- Joseph Hart, 1759