It has been said that the gospel is such a simple message that even the very young can understand it, but so profound that the most learned theologians can never reveal the depths of its riches. Although the gospel is easy to understand, many opposing views exist because eternal salvation seems far-fetched, and salvation as a gift from God seems unimaginable. The gospel answers these paradoxical questions: How can an unholy person become holy and how can a fallen creature have fellowship with a holy God?
These transformations seem impossible, but the Bible says that "with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26). Sadly, the truth of the gospel is rejected by many persons. They cannot reconcile their image of a loving God with the idea of a just God's eternal condemnation of unforgiven sinners. Regardless, without an Almighty pardon for sin, the sinner stands eternally condemned without hope.
Although God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, contrary to widespread misconceptions, He does not make anyone go to heaven, nor does He force anyone to end up in Hell. That determination is a choice made by each person on earth. In fact, God's will is for every person to repent, trust in Christ as Saviour and be saved.
The Lord is ...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9)
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
The gospel reveals the lost and sinful condition of each and every person apart from Jesus Christ. Regardless of how decent and moral you try to live your life, the gospel reveals your true state and dire need. Using the gospel, the Spirit of God opens your heart, eyes and ears to bring conviction of sin into your life, while the Father draws you to Himself.
God provided many pictures and types throughout the Old Testament as a witness of His desire to fellowship with man. He provided shed blood and animal skins for Adam and Eve, the ark for Noah and his family, the ram in the thicket for Abraham and Isaac, and the brazen serpent on the pole for Moses and the nation of Israel. God has now provided His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, for the entire world. Thus, the message of Christ and His cross, having its foundation throughout the Old Testament, is the message that must be presented to a desperately needy world today.
The most spectacular message ever told concerns the work of Christ and how it can change a person's life for all of eternity. In fact, it is the greatest messageever told, the greatest theme in history, and the greatest work ever performed by the greatest Person who ever lived. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, paid the penalty for sin by shedding His precious blood on the cross of Calvary.
The blood shed on Calvary's cross was the blood of God! It was the blood of Jesus, and He is God's Son—God manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). Thus, the Creator of the universe justly satisfied the judgment for sin on our behalf through the shedding OF HIS OWN BLOOD.
Twelve scriptural proofs that God shed His own life's blood for our sin:
- "church...purchased with his own blood."
- "a propitiation through faith in his blood"
- "justified by his blood"
- "made nigh by the blood of Christ"
- "having made peace through the blood"
- "blood of Christ…purge your conscience"
- "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus"
- "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin"
- "washed us from our sins in his own blood"
- "redeemed us to God by thy blood"
- "made them white in the blood of the Lamb"
- "they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb"
References: (1) Acts 20:28; (2) Romans 3:25; (3) Romans 5:9; (4) Ephesians 2:13; (5) Colossians 1:20; (6) Hebrews 9:14; (7) Hebrews 10:19; (8) 1 John 1:7; (9) Revelation 1:5; (10) Revelation 5:9; (11) Revelation 7:14; (12) Revelation 12:11
Only God could devise such a wonderful plan of redemption. God Himself became the sacrificial Lamb, but why? By God's very nature, He must judge sin. Through His Law, the sinner must be judged guilty and condemned forever. However, through God's Son, every man, woman or child ever born has a way out. This is the essence of the gospel!
The truly repentant sinner is saved from the penalty of sin when he realizes his desperate need and acts on his desire for God to forgive his sinful soul. Because Christ sacrificed Himself, His blood is able to clear the guilty of ALL judicial condemnation and the fiery wrath and indignation of God. God accepted Christ's payment, making redemption possible for all those who would receive Him as their Saviour.
Everyone should ask the same simple question that the Philippian jailer posed to his two prisoners. "…Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Only two answers to your appeal exist—one right and one wrong.
God saves man or man saves himself. The premise that man saves himselfimplies that Christ's sacrifice on the cross was somehow inadequate. God's saving man denotes salvation by grace—the unmerited favor of God.
If one adds anything to Christ's work, this places the works of a mere mortal as equal to the sacrificial work of the Son of God on the cross of Calvary! Our greatest works could never be placed equal with what Christ did for us, and there is a day coming when God will judge the world in righteousness. The standard for that judgment will be Christ's righteousness because we have all individually fallen short of God's perfect standard.
Christ's righteousness is the benchmark that everyone must meet; therefore, the Lord commands every sinner to repent! However, some people find it difficult to admit that they are even a sinner. Sin is simply the transgression of God's law, of which, all are transgressors. Consider this: Have you ever lied? That makes you a liar. Have you ever stolen anything, even time from your boss? That makes you a thief. Have you ever lusted after a woman? That makes you an adulterer in your heart. Everyone has broken God's laws; all sinners need God's forgiveness.
The assertion that God saves man requires God to impute His righteousness to the believer, which is precisely the arrangement proclaimed by the Bible. "Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe..." God's righteousness is offered unto all, (everyone), but is imputed, (or accredited), only to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, (just like the Philippian jailer).
What does the Bible teach concerning the way to be saved? The following chart illustrates what every sinner should personally acknowledge to God based on the scriptural declarations provided.
In so doing, the individual will better understand the Gospel of the Grace of God; however, this chart is not meant to be used as a formula for prayer.
No single magic prayer for salvation exists. One must simply believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and call upon Him in order to be saved. The Bible says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Repeating these "personal acknowledgements" without the heartfelt conviction of trusting in Christ will simply be an act of futility.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
1. Realize that you are a sinner:
"I know that I have broken the laws of God and am a sinner, and my sin causes me to come short of God's perfect standard."
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18).
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him (John 3:36).
2. Recognize that you are currently under God's wrath and deserve to end up in hell because of your sin:
"I believe the Bible which says that I am currently under the wrath of God and condemned to hell. I justly deserve to be eternally punished for my sin and know that I am simply awaiting the execution of my sentence by the eternal Judge once I die.
"Thankfully, the Son of God has paid my sin debt by dying and shedding His blood in my place so that I could have eternal life by believing on Him."
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
3. Believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for your sins:
"I believe that Christ died for my sins and also rose from the dead for my justification" (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Romans 2:4-5).
4. Repent of trusting in anything else to save you:
"In believing on Jesus Christ, I know that I must trust in Him and Him alone. If I try to add anything (good works, baptism, church membership, etc.) to Christ's payment then I am saying to God that His Son's sacrificial death and blood shed on the cross was not sufficient to pay for my sin."
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).
5. Accept God's gift of salvation:
"I believe that Jesus died for my sin and I accept His gift of salvation freely given to me based on the promise of God."
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:9-10).
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).
6. Ask the Lord to save you by simply trusting in Him and His word:
"I believe that God wants to forgive my sins and has graciously provided the way for me to receive that payment on my behalf."
Now in your own words, if you are ready to trust in Christ, ask Him to forgive you and save you. Ephesians 1:13 says: "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.
God's justice requires sin to be judged. This is the only way that His righteousness can be satisfied. Judgment must be poured out upon the sin of that sinner, but Jesus said, Father, put it all on Me. God then saw the wrath placed on the Son and the Father said, Justice has been served. Righteousness has been fulfilled. Now I can receive any sinner through this payment.
Unlike our sometimes faulty legal system which presumes a person innocent until proven guilty, God's perfect system of justice rightfully declares all sinners without Christ guilty. The unsaved person is already condemned and simply awaiting judgment day and the execution of the sentence. However, in the Day of Judgment, the forgiven are simply confirmed innocent.
It is as if Christ and the sinner trade places. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Christ took your sins upon Himself. Then, having taken the judgment for those sins upon Himself, He says to all those that call upon Him: Take my righteousness.
You must come to a point where you realize that you are a sinner, that the wrath of God abides on you, and that there is no way for you to stand before a holy God. Furthermore, you must realize that nothing in you can take care of your guilt, and you must have His salvation. You cannot live well enough to justify yourself! You cannot even keep the Ten Commandments! Baptism and church membership are of no help to you. All you can do is look to the One who paid the price on the cross and fall down before Him and believe in Him and the payment He made on the cross for you. Those who believe can now say, "Lord Jesus, I believe You paid the price for my sins, and right now I want to trust in You; I want You to forgive my sins and save my soul."
These words are not special words or some formula that somehow merits salvation. It is not the words that save you; it is the act of looking to Jesus in faith and trusting in Him alone for salvation.