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What is the Gospel? What Does One Have to Know & Believe to Be Saved?

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What is the Gospel? What Does One Have to Know & Believe to Be Saved?

At the heart of the message of the Bible is the good news that God reconciled fallen mankind to Himself through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ His Son. This is my understanding of the gospel, the heart and core of Christianity that must be communicated to and embraced by a heart to be saved, reconciled with God escaping His wrath:

The gospel is good news. The gospel in the best news that could be conceived of; if one was asked to name the best news they could possibly hear, they could not come up with better news than this: They can be reconciled to God, know Him, enjoy Him, and be called His child, escaping His just wrath and receive instead, His gracious favor (1 Peter 3:18). There is nothing we could or should desire that would be better than to have God (Psalm 73:25-26) The good news is that we can be with God and enjoy him forever (Westminster Catechism, question 1). There is nowhere else we would want to be, as Jonathan Edwards writes of the redeemed and God,

“God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling-place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honour and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. (Edwards, “God Glorified in Man’s Dependence”. The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 2, p. 5)

The value of this good news is clearly indicated by the value of what it makes available to us. Additionally, the cost which had to be paid to reconcile us with Infinite Goodness is another indicator of this good news’ “goodness”. To know the gospel, one must know of the cost at which the good news of reconciliation came, and embrace the price paid as the only method of access to God, forsaking his or her own works, hoping only in Jesus Christ. This ability and desire to be with God is not our natural state. No, by nature since the fall of Adam (Romans 5:12ff), all of humanity, including each and every individual, has been at enmity with God choosing nothing but sin, acts of rebellion against Him (Romans 3:9-23; Psalm 51:3-5; James 4:4; Romans 5:10a). This rebellion against the One who created (Genesis 1-2; Job 38) the world, sustains it (Nehemiah 9:6; Hebrews 1:3; Colossians 1:17), rules it (Psalm 103:19; Daniel 4:35), and will judge it (Psalm 75:2; Hebrews 9:27; Acts 17:31; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Revelation 20:13). For that sinful rebellion, mankind has earned judgment and death (Romans 6:23) and cannot be allowed into or even exist in the presence of Holy God (Psalm 24:3-4; Hebrews 12:14; Ephesians 5:5; Isaiah 6:5). The redemption price for such extreme insurgence is too high for any of us to pay. The price could only be paid by the death of the perfect Son of God in our place, Him receiving in His body all of God’s wrath and judgment against those He is redeeming as if Christ were the unrighteous and giving the rebels His own righteousness. God cannot show grace freely; He must remain just. No sin is left unpunished; it was either paid by Jesus on the cross (or we shall spend eternity receiving our just wages (Romans 6:23). Jesus, now risen, stands at the Judge’s right hand interceding for those who He has saved, not based on their righteousness, but based on own righteousness applied to those in whose place He died (1 John 2:1).

Seeing the “goodness” of the gospel because of what it brings us, God, and standing in awe at the immenseness of the price and the horror of what it keeps us from, we finally see the goodness in the gospel in conquering sin. For those who embrace the gospel, the heart that once hated God is changed by God into a heart that loves God and obeys Him from the heart. God not only treats the saved like sons, but He changes their hearts (and continues to sanctify it until we are finally glorified) to look like sons (Roman 6:17; Galatians 4:6; Jeremiah 31:40-41; 1 John 3:1-3).

So how much of this knowledge is necessary to understand to be saved: (1) God must be desired. It is not sufficient to want to escape punishment and have a heaven devoid of God.  (2) One must recognize in some degree his or her own sinfulness, separation from God, and position as being worthy of God’s just judgment. (3) One must hope only in Christ as his or her own means of being saved from God’s wrath and reconciled to Him. (4) One must repent of His sin, and based on God’s gift of faith, pursue righteousness.

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Title: What is the Gospel? What Does One Have to Know & Believe to Be Saved?
Date posted: 06 8 '07 - 17:07
Category: Gospel
Wordcount: 854 words
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