Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
I Corinthians 15:1–4 NIV
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
The word gospel simply means “good news.” The central message of the Bible is the good news about the person and work of Jesus Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, Paul provides the most succinct summary of the Gospel: that the man Jesus is also God, that He died on a cross in our place, paying the penalty for our sins; that three days later He rose to conquer Satan, sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him alone for eternal life. That’s good news. And it’s the essence of all we are and do at Reality.
Another way to share the Gospel is through narrative - a story. A true story. The story we find ourselves in. It goes like this...
REALITY | The God that Is
We begin with God who lives in eternal triune relationship, the creator of the heavens and the earth and they were very good. He is the one who is present and involved with His creation. He is not a disinterested God who is distant and removed from His creation, nor should He be confused with His creation. He is always the God of compassion and grace, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin, yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.
As the centerpiece of His creation, He created mankind into whom He breathed His life. God made humans in His image, blessed and called them into partnership with Him to reflect His goodness to the world and to each other as we live, work, and flourish together with Him.
So the gospel begins with a God who has taken the initiative to be present in loving relationship.
REBELLION | The People that Sinned
However, given life in intimate communion with the Creator of the universe in His splendor & goodness, our first parents chose to reject the Creator’s wisdom and authority. They wanted to be their own gods, to define right and wrong for themselves. This inward turn, towards selfishness and pride, is what we call “the fall.” As a result, all humanity became alienated from God, moved from life to death, from communion to corruption, from shalom to shame.
We have inherited the disease and have embraced the rebellion. We are shattered lanterns and in darkness turn to the creation and creature for comfort and meaning. We have rejected our maker and we are unthankful, dead in our sin and under judgment. Incapable of saving ourselves we are restless, blind, bound by self-worship, without hope, under the dominion of darkness and guilty of high treason.
REDEMPTION | The Jesus that Saves
Who can save us from ourselves, our sin and selfishness, and the world of death we have created?
The good news is that God is love, relentless love. He immediately put into motion a plan to rescue sinners, destroy sin and defeat Satan & his minions. God acted by sending His Son, Jesus. Jesus is the final word of the Father, God with us (Immanuel); He is a direct representation of His character, as well as a picture of mankind as we were intended to be. The unchanging God became something He was not before, a man. He lived the perfect life we could not, showing us how to live the Spirit-filled & Spirit-empowered life. He died upon the cross taking our place and the judgment we deserved. He rose from the dead as life bringer, conquering sin, death, darkness and the world. He ascended to His Father as Lord of the universe in victory over all other powers & principalities. Now this Jesus sends his Spirit to dwell in those who place their faith in Him and Him alone. As followers of Jesus, we confess Christ Jesus came to die for sinners which includes all of us.
RESTORATION | The Relationship that is Repaired
God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21). God has made a way through Jesus - the wall of separation has been torn down. Relationship with the living God is now possible. We are called to enter every part of our culture and participate in God’s mission to bring restoration and shalom to our world. The wonder, mystery and the glory of the Christian experience is that we have not earned it. It is a gift! Absolutely unmerited. Undeserved grace.
So what do we do to receive this Life?
Repent | Turn from your sin & towards Jesus. Change your mind about who God is, who you are, and what your life is all about.
Confess | Acknowledge your sin to Jesus and His people. Tell of your hopelessness & inability to change yourself. Speak from your heart that Jesus died for you, saved you, and is Lord of your life. Your life is no longer yours, but His.
Believe | Trust that what He promises is true, that His provision in Jesus is all you need for acceptance into His family. You no longer live by a list of DO'S & DON'TS because the work, in Jesus, is DONE.
Be Baptized | Express and confirm your identification with Jesus in His death and resurrection, His people and His mission.
Surrender | Recognize that all you are and have now belongs to your saviour.
Obey | Embrace the teachings of Jesus and the Scriptures and live in humble, joyful obedience. Obey not because you have to, but now because you get to.
For some recent sermons on the Gospel, go HERE
If you have questions or would like to talk with a Pastor about this spiritual journey, please contact us HERE
RELIGION vs THE GOSPEL
In our culture it is common to confuse religion with the Gospel but they are, in reality, 2 opposing ways to live. Contrary to public opinion, Jesus did not come to establish a new religion - one where people followed Him as opposed to some other spiritual leader. Jesus came to abolish religion, to fulfill the law, and reconcile all of His creation to Himself. As Christ-followers, we must fight against religion as it is the sinful tendency of all mankind. We must fight for the Gospel - to proclaim in word and deed the good news of the Kingdom, that Jesus created, came, died, rose, conquered - and is coming again to set us free and make ‘all things new’.
The following contrasts are offered to help clarify the differences between living the way of religion & living the Way of the Gospel.
Religion is all about me.
The Gospel is all about Jesus.
Religion is about going to church.
The Gospel is about being the church.
Religion is about diligently following the rules.
The Gospel is about grace.
Religion is about what I have to do.
The Gospel is about what I get to do.
Religion says that if we obey God, then He will love us.
The Gospel says that it is only because God has loved us through Jesus, that we can obey.
Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people.
The Gospel says that the world is filled with jacked up people who are either repentant or unrepentant. Some people simply hide this better than others.
Religion says that you should trust in what you do as a good moral person.
The Gospel says that you should trust in the perfectly sinless life of Jesus because He alone is the only good and truly moral person who will ever live.
The goal of religion is to get from God such things as health, wealth, insight, power, and control.
The goal of the Gospel is not the gifts God gives, but rather God as the gift given to us by grace.
Religion sees hardship in life as punishment from God.
The Gospel sees hardship in life as sanctifying affliction that reminds us of Jesus’ sufferings and is used by God in love to make us more like Jesus. Because of Jesus, we can be confident that God will work all things out for our good and His glory.
Religion leads to prohibitions & divisive, man-made behavioral traditions.
The Gospel leads to dancing, good wine, and great music.
Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God.
The Gospel leads to a confidence about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.
Religion ends in either pride (because I think I am better than other people) or despair (because I continually fall short of God’s commands).
The Gospel ends in humble, confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me.
Religion is why 97% of our city misunderstands, is disconnected from, and has tuned-out Jesus.
The Gospel is the only thing that can change that.