Having laid the foundation of God’s loving and righteous rule, and having seen man’s rebellion against our God and deserving of His divine judgment, we’re now in the position to consider the central message of the Bible – the gospel.
The gospel is the good news about who Jesus is and what He has done to rescue sinners from judgment and reconcile them back to God!
THE SINLESS SUBSTITUTE
Though humanity deserved nothing less than condemnation and eternal separation from God, in His great love and mercy, He sent Jesus into this world to rescue humanity from sin, death, and judgment! As God in the flesh, Jesus was completely sinless. He lived the life we were created to live, in perfect obedience to God. Then died the death we deserved to die, taking the punishment for our sin on Himself.
1 Peter 3:18 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
Some look to the death of Jesus in a sentimental and almost mystical way. Many view the cross with intrigue and wonder that an innocent man would be executed in that way. As a result, the life and death of Jesus are interpreted as an example of how to love your enemies or how to have humility in the face of false accusation.
However, we cannot look at the crucifixion in some religiously nostalgic or moralistic way. Jesus did not die as a martyr to start a new world religion. His death was not simply a noble example of sacrifice and love. The Bible reveals that the very nature of Jesus’ death was substitutionary. That is, He died for our sins in our place. In His death, Jesus was taking the punishment the guilty sinner deserved and absorbing the just wrath of God on Himself (Isaiah 53:4-6, 1 John 4:10).
Question: How is it that Jesus was qualified and capable to die as a substitute for sinners?
Answer: Jesus was no ordinary man!
- To die for sinners, Jesus would have to be sinless, or someone else would have to offer a sacrifice for Him (1 Peter 2:22-24).
- To die as a substitute for humanity, He would have to be human (Hebrews 2:14-18).
- But only God, in the infinite value of His person, could pay the infinite price required for mankind’s rebellion (2 Corinthians 5:19).
This is why there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
IMPLICATIONS FOR EVANGELISM
Most people like the idea of a loving God. Most would tip their hat to a loving Jesus dying on a cross. The problem is that kind of thinking often equates God’s love to overlooking our sin.
But could God be considered loving if He were to allow sin to go unchecked? Can a good God let rebels go free and not compromise His justice and holiness?
No! If God just overlooked your rebellion without some sort of payment being made, He would not be just.
The cross reveals that the love of God is not a matter of allowing consequences for sin to vanish. Rather, the love of God revealed in the gospel is that, what God’s righteous wrath demands, in His love, He Himself provides on the cross. In His justice, God fully executes judgment on sin. In His love, He takes to Himself that judgment and offers full pardon and forgiveness.
THIS IS GOOD NEWS!The love of God revealed in the gospel is that what God's righteous wrath demands, in His love, He Himself provides on the cross. Click To Tweet
If anyone is ever to find a right standing before God, it will only be on the basis of what God has done, not in overlooking our sin, but in judging our sin at the cross. Jesus’ death reveals that only God Himself could provide the necessary payment for sin and rebellion. If there were something humanity could do to be cleared from guilt, then the death of Jesus would be irrelevant.
The Apostle Paul said it this way: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood (Romans 3:23-25).
You cannot be made right with God as a result of anything done by you. You can only be made right with God as a result of something done for you. In the death of Jesus, God upholds His divine justice on sin while pouring out His divine love on sinners.
But the death of Jesus is only a portion of the good news.
Three days later …You cannot be made right with God as a result of anything done by you. You can only be made right with God as a result of something done for you. Click To Tweet
- The Cross of Christ, John Stott
- What Is the Gospel?, Greg Gilbert
- Who is Jesus?, Greg Gilbert
- You, Me, and the Bible, Tony Payne
OTHER POSTS in this Series
- Evangelism Initiative
- Our Loving Creator and Righteous Ruler
- A Rebellious Creature and Condemned Sinner
- Jesus, The Sinless Substitute
- Jesus, The Risen Lord
- Our Response of Faith and Repentance