Gospel

What is the gospel?

The good news is this:

  • There is a God, who is the God of the Bible, that is the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
  • We are created by and in the image of God
  • We were separated from our loving relationship with God because of our sin
  • Jesus, the Son of God, lived and died to restore our relationship with our loving God
  • We restore our relationship with our God by believing that  Jesus is the Son of God, repenting our sins and declaring Jesus to be our Lord
  • We are restored as children of God as a gift to us based not on what we do or who we are, but on the grace given to us because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross in our place
  • We then live in a relationship with our God not by following a set of rules but because of this grace given freely to us which motivates us to live in a manner which is pleasing to God.

These are the key propositions and their counter propositions:

1. There is a God There is no God
2. God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit God is not Father, Son nor Holy Spirit
3. Jesus Christ-the Son- lived and died and rose again Jesus may have lived, he may have died, but he is dead!
4. Jesus Christ died in order to re-establish the relationship between us sinful humans and our just God Jesus was a man, a good man, a prophet but that is all. There is no such thing as sin, and god is not just.
5. By accepting in faith Jesus as our Lord we are reconciled to God and become his children through the grace of God. In order to become Christians we need to follow a set of rules laid down by a Church, so that we can prove we are worthy of being called Christians.

Before setting out these propositions in more detail, there are a few important objections I would like to address. Many people who have failed -or refused- to consider the claims of the gospel do so on the basis that evolution has explained away or refuted the biblical version of history. The claim is that we as Christ followers use God as a plug, so when there is something that can not be explained Christianity throws out answer “..because of God”. I suggest that most sceptics actually do the same. Their answer to the apparently unanswerable is….. time. Set the time in which evolutionary processes did this or that and bam! You have your ‘answer’!

In the present context -and political climate-  Christianity is rejected because it is a ‘white man’s religion’. I wish to point out that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son to die on the cross.

So what is the point of explaining the gospel on a website which provides knowledge and skills in the labour law and labour relations fields? South Africa has the worst labour relations in the world! The worst. There may be many ways this can be ‘fixed’, ‘improved’ or ‘transformed’, but none which lead to change of hearts and minds in the way the Gospel does. Christ followers need to take the lead in this by applying the Gospel to their work. The Faith at Work Blog  is aimed at encouraging this process.

How to navigate this page: click on the – or + to open or close a particular section.

I am sure you have had the experience of looking up at the stars on a moonless night. If you have done this in the berg or bush, away from a town you would have seen the vast beauty on display. So how do you react? If you believe there is no God, you would have to say-in order to be true to your belief: so what? I bet you don’t, I am pretty confident that the sight of all those stars astounds and delights you. If you think there is a God, but like the stars he or she is out there somewhere and has nothing to do with you and your life, your reaction might be to exclaim about the beautiful stars. If you are a Christ follower, you may well voice your appreciation at the incredible sight, but ask: what kind of a God is it that can create such a sight? What kind of a God does so and allows me to view it?

Now I know that if you believe there is no God, you are probably shouting objections like … “Well you see over many years the stars evolved into the position they are at the moment….” And go into some form of exposition about chance or evolution or some other explanation.

Any yet you still gaze at those stars in wonder.

I suggest to you that all your rational and philosophical arguments against the proposition that there is a God, do not explain your wonder. And I suggest further that the reason you wonder is because when you look up at those stars you have an inkling, just a tiny flutter in your heart and mind, that tells you: “Hello, God here”!

References, quotes and some sources of the above as well as additional information:

  • Strobel, Lee, The Case For Christ, Zondervan, 2016
  • Keller, Timothy, The Reason For God, Belief in an Age of Scepticism, Hodder and Sroughton, 2009;
  • Zacharias,Ravi and Vitale, Vince, Jesus Among Secular Gods, FaithWords, 2017

 

So who is this God? The Bible tells us that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Ah, so the Christian God is actually three Gods!! No, that is not the case. The Bible speaks of God as person. You are a person and if I said to you that you have a body, soul and spirit, would you not agree? If you have ever seen a person die, you would have seen their spirit leave and the body left without it.

I know I am treating this subject somewhat simplistically, but what I am trying to convey is that the God I am talking about is a person, and as such has a character, and thinks, lives and creates. And one of the aspects of being a person is the desire to interact with others. The prime way this God I am talking about interacts with us is through love. Love is the central characteristic of God.

That is all very well, you say, how do you know that this God of yours loves us humans, and loves me in particular? My answer to you is this: you know God loves you because he gave you the freedom to choose to accept him as your God, or not to choose to do so. Why is this freedom so key? What kind of a God would give you no option but to acknowledge him as God? You would be in bondage, a zombie, hardly a person in your own right at all.

But aren’t there many other Gods, or gods? Why am I only left with the option to choose the God you are talking about, you may ask? You are perfectly free to choose any other God or god. I would suggest however that you look closely at this God- the Father, Son and Holy Spirit one. Why? Because he is the only God amongst all the Gods and gods that have ever  been said to exist, to make the claim that he is God. Now I know I make this statement based on what is in the bible, and you may well argue that the bible is just a book of tall tales, or myths and fairy tales. But think: what if its not? What if it is what it says it is- the story of man’s interaction with this person, this God, and shows us his character and how he loves us and has always done so. Don’t miss out, investigate this claim for yourself.

 

References, quotes and some sources of the above as well as additional information:

I don’t think many people dispute that Jesus lived. The many historical and other records make is pretty clear that he did. And having lived those many years ago, he surely died!

But the more important question is: was he the Christ? The Messiah? Well, yes he is. How can I say that? Because he said he is. Yes, I know that this is what the bible says and how do we know the bible is reliable and accurate and … and … and. Take it for the moment that Jesus claimed as recorded in the bible that he is the Christ, the Messiah. Can such a claim be valid?

My response is to put to you what C.S Lewis said. He said this: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg- or he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice, either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense abut his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.” [Mere Christianity, book 2, chapter 3].

Did this Jesus rise from the dead? Is he alive? Surely that is nonsense, no one has ever risen from the dead. Let us be clear here: The issue is not whether you like his teachings, or think he might have been a great prophet, the question is whether he rose from the dead. The entire Gospel rises or falls on this. Is there any credible evidence to support this proposition?  Let me summarise the some of the evidence:

  • The resurrected Jesus appeared to a number of people and more than five hundred people at the same time most of whom were alive at the time this assertion was made.
  • The first eyewitnesses to see the resurrected Christ were, according to the letters of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, women. If the report of the resurrection was made up that version would not have made women be the first eyewitnesses as the evidence of women was not admissible at the time in any court.
  • There is no plausible and sincere explanation for why the Christ followers of the time changed so radically after Jesus death. Peter for example, ran away and denied knowing Christ but then lived his life telling everyone about Jesus and dying for it. This applies today.

References, quotes and some sources of the above as well as additional information:

There are a few propositions in this statement. The first concerns sin, and the idea that we are “sinful”. So what is ‘sin’? Sin is usually explained by giving a list of all the things people do wrong, like committing adultery, stealing, and murder. But those are examples of sin, they don’t explain what sin is.

Sin is this: putting anything, anything at all- even those things we regard as good, like not getting drunk, not fornicating, attending church services, loving our family, being a reliable employee- above God. Sin has been described as “making good things into ultimate things. It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to our significance, purpose and happiness than your relationship with God”. So applying this understanding, are you a sinner? The central difference between a Christ follower and a religious person or anyone else is that the Christ follower would say: “Yes I am”.

What about the idea that our God is just, that in our relationship with him his actions and attitude towards us is ‘just’? If you accept -for the moment- that God created us, and that what the bible has to say may shed some light on this issue, then I ask you to consider what took place in the garden of Eden. The bible story says that after creating us God told us one thing we must not do and that was to eat from the tree of good and evil, because “if you do you will die”. Both Adam and Eve nevertheless chose to eat the fruit after they are persuaded by the argument of the serpent that they won’t die if they eat the fruit and, more than that, they “will be like God, knowing good and evil”. Do you see that the actions of Adam and Eve fall squarely into the above understanding of sin? They desired and chose to make themselves “like God”. And do you not agree then that God was just when he sent them from his presence in the garden. The biblical version is that God “drove them out of the garden of Eden”. A just God can not be in the presence of sin. We were entirely and completely separated from God because of the choice we make –illustrated by the actions of Adam and Eve, when we seek to make ourselves god. We need rescuing.

The next issue is how and why did Jesus re-establish the relationship between us and God? The answer to ‘why’ is this: Jesus gave himself for our sins. He paid for our sins by dying in our place on the cross.  The answer to ‘how’ is this: he died as a substitution for us. God loves us so much that he was prepared to have his Son die on the cross so that the relationship can be restored. This makes the Gospel unique because Jesus did all we needed to do but could not ever do. Only God himself, in the form of his Son, could pay the price for our sins. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead shows that God, the Father, accepted this sacrifice.

And this was all done out of grace of God- the fact that we deserve nothing and can ourselves do nothing to earn God’s favour, and yet –yet!- God has done everything to make it possible for us to once again be in a loving and everlasting relationship with God.

“The gospel-the message that we are more wicked than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope- creates a radical new dynamic for personal growth, for obedience, for love.”

References, quotes and some sources of the above as well as additional information:

  • Keller, Galatians For You, 2013 The Good Book Company;
  • Galatians chapter 1.

So if you accept that there is a God, and that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that Jesus, the Son and our Messiah, died and rose again, then the question is: what can you do about it?

Let us be clear about this: “salvation, from first to last, is God’s doing. It is his calling; his plan, his action; his work. And so it is He who deserves all the glory, for all time.” Other religions have it the other way round: we do what we can to make ourselves acceptable to God, and then-hopefully- God accepts us. We must be plain about this: we can do nothing to make ourselves acceptable to God, not our good deeds, not our culture, nothing at all.

So if you accept that Jesus is who he says he is- the Son of God, the say this short prayer:

Thank you Jesus that you died in my place on the cross. I  declare you to be my Lord, my Saviour and my God. I do this knowing that it is God’s work in me, and that I am saved by and through the grace of God. I ask Lord that you lead me and guide me from this day forward. Amen

You can’t be a Christ follower alone. You need to be with other Christ followers, to hear the gospel and to learn to grow and experience the new life you have chosen. Find a church near you, tell others about what you have done and why.

Yours in Christ

Sean

 

References, quotes and some sources of the above as well as additional information: