The Biblical Gospel
by Mitch Cervinka

The gospel revealed in the Bible glorifies our blessed God, showing us that God saves His elect people by doing for them all that they neither could do, nor would do of themselves.
The gospel begins by telling us about the God who made us: He is infinitely holy, infinitely wise, infinitely good, all-powerful and all-knowing. He made us for His own good pleasure and daily supplies us with all that we need. He often gives us abundantly more than we need.[1]

The gospel tells us that each of us is by nature a wicked, rebellious sinner who hates our blessed Creator. It tells us that we sin daily, by our ingratitude and neglect of God, by despising or neglecting His holy word, by impure and unkind thoughts, words and actions, and at times, by open rebellion against His holiness and authority.[2]

Because we are so quick to think well of ourselves, and so unwilling to believe that we are the wicked sinners God declares us to be, God gave us His Law. God's Law reveals to us what things are sinful... worshipping false Gods, making and worshipping idols, misusing God's name, neglecting the true worship of God, dishonoring parents, commiting murder, engaging in illicit sex, stealing, giving false testimony, desiring things that belong to someone else. It is wicked even to contemplate doing such things.[3]

The gospel tells us that, because of our wickedness, we richly deserve God's fierce anger and eternal wrath, and that God would be perfectly just to condemn us to everlasting torment in the same hell He created for Satan and his demonic angels.[4]

Yet, the great wonder is that God freely set His love upon certain members of our fallen race.. not because of any merit or potential goodness He saw in us.. but to show forth the greatness of His own mercy and compassion.[5]

And, out of His tremendous love for these whom He had chosen for Himself, God determined to do absolutely everything necessary to save them from the guilt that condemned them and from the sin that polluted their souls, no matter what the cost to Himself, and to bring them ultimately and infallibly into the glorious kingdom that He has prepared for them, where He will dwell with them for all eternity, being their God, and they being His people.[6]

The greatest obstacle to His saving us was our infinite guilt and His own incorruptible justice.. He could not simply overlook our sin, because that would make Him unjust and tolerant of evil. To simply overlook sin would show that He is not worthy to be God.[7]

God, in His infinite wisdom, knew how He could remain just, and yet forgive the sins of His chosen people. What was needed was a willing Victim, a Substitute, who would take full responsibility for the sins of God's chosen people, and would accept the full penalty which they deserved.[8]

This Substitute would have to be absolutely sinless.. if He had sins of his own to answer for, then He would have to be punished for His own sins, and could not serve as a Substitute for others.[9]

This Substitute would also have to be a person of infinite glory and worth. How could He, in a finite interval of time, bear the full punishment for even one person who deserved eternal hell? And God had purposed to save a vast multitude, which no man can count. How could just one man bear the sins of many?[10]

The answer is that, God has a Son, whose name is "Jesus." Jesus is not God's Son by being born, nor by being created. Jesus is God's special Son.. the Bible calls Him the only begotten or unique Son of God. Jesus is uniquely God's Son in that He Himself is God. The child of a sheep is itself also fully a sheep, and the child of a lion is itself a lion. Many passages of the Bible affirm that Jesus is fully God, and that He bears the exact image of His Father. There is also a third distinct person, the Holy Spirit, whom the Bible identifies as being God. The Bible identifies these three persons as the one true and living God.[11]

Jesus has been the Son of God from all eternity, and the Father loves His Son (together with the Holy Spirit) more than anything else. Jesus was a person of infinite worth and absolute perfection, who would be the perfect and acceptable Substitute and Savior for God's chosen people.[12]

In order for the Son to save those whom God had chosen, it was necessary that He become a man, live a sinless life, and then suffer and die to bear the punishment for these chosen ones.[13]

Jesus was born as a human baby in Israel, in the town of Bethlehem, of a virgin mother named "Mary." She was a Jew, a descendant of King David. Jesus, though tempted in all points just as we are, lived a sinless life. He was unjustly accused and then put to death by crucifixion.. one of the most cruel forms of execution, where, after having been beaten, whipped and ridiculed, was then nailed to a large wooden cross by His hands and feet, and left there six hours to die as a crowd of witnesses watched, and as the sky turned dark and an earthquake ripped the temple curtain in two from top to bottom.[14]

Just before He died, He cried out "It is finished!" This was an expression of victory! God's eternal plan to save His people from their sins was sealed when Jesus, the eternal, only-begotten Son of God, died on the cross. Their punishment had been fully poured out upon their Substitute. All their sins.. past, present and future, were laid on Jesus in those six anguished hours on the cross and when He died, He had drunk dry the cup of God's fierce anger against their sins. From that time on, nothing could ever condemn one of God's elect.[15]

After He died, He was placed in the tomb of a rich man, and there He remained for three days and three nights. When some of His friends came to visit the tomb on the first day of the week, they found that the massive stone which had sealed the tomb had been rolled away, and when they looked inside, Jesus was gone. On numerous occasions, He appeared to them, in the flesh, alive again from the dead! This proved that He had paid the full penalty for the sins of His people, and that He had triumphed over both sin and death. By using His divine power to raise Himself from the dead, He proved Himself to be God. Forty days later, He ascended into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of His heavenly Father.[16]

Jesus will return someday soon.. not as a weak victim to be slaughtered, but as the Sovereign Lord and Judge of His creation. On that day, he will judge each human being by what they have done. Those who are righteous He will welcome into His eternal kingdom. Those who are guilty of sin will be tormented day and night for ever and ever in the lake of fire.[17]

God knows all things, and He has a perfect memory. He knows all that you have done in your life, and His holy character will not allow Him to overlook sin. What will you say to Him on that day when He opens the books which record the sinful deeds you have done? Do you have a Savior, or will you have to be punished for your own sins? If there had been another way for us to be saved, God would not have sent His dearly loved, only-begotten Son to die such a horrible death. He is the only one who can save us from our sins and from God's righteous wrath and fury. No other person, no religion, can save you from your sins and from God's wrath. Only Jesus can save us from our sins.[18]

How can you know if you are one of God's chosen people whom God, from all eternity, has purposed to save? The Bible commands us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and promises that God will save all who do. Faith is a gift which God gives, by His Holy Spirit, to those whom He has chosen. If you genuinely believe in Jesus Christ as your Substitute and Lord, then you are one of God's elect, and you can rest assured that you will be saved.[19]

One word of warning, however.. not everything that is called "faith" is true saving faith.[20]

  • You must come recognizing that God is the exalted, holy God of the universe, and that Jesus Christ is God come in human flesh.  To view God as anything less is to exchange the glory of God for an idol of your own creation.  We are not at liberty to redefine God to suit our tastes.  We must bow to the God who is—And He is the one true, living and eternal God, who is the Sovereign Creator, Lord and Judge of all creation.
  • You must trust in Jesus Christ as Lord to have Him as your Savior.  Scripture promises salvation only to those who acknowledge Jesus as their Lord.  Genuine faith does not treat Jesus merely as a cosmic security blanket, but acknowledges His deity and His right to rule over us.
  • You must never suppose that you first must be "good enough" before God will accept you.  Christ did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. You cannot come to Christ bringing your own works of righteousness.  You must come empty-handed, recognizing that you are a hell-deserving sinner and that even the best of your good works are like filthy rags in God's sight.
  • You must come seeking God's mercy, forgiveness and cleansing.  He does not bargain with us.  We have nothing of value to offer Him.  Faith is not some precious stone that we can use to bribe God into forgiving us.  Instead, faith is acknowledging our dependence upon Him, and our desperate need for His mercy.  Genuine faith acknowledges our helplessness, emptiness and sinfulness.  Genuine faith cries out to God for mercy.
  • You must come with the expectation that God will change you.  If you come to Christ in a way that leaves you unchanged from your former way of life, then you have not come to Him in true faith.  Repentance—a dramatic change in the way you view sin, self, God and righteousness—will always accompany true saving faith.
Such a faith as this is not the product of human will or effort, but can only result from the Holy Spirit's work of regeneration.. sovereignly imparting a new life to God's chosen people.

Having come to Christ, you (and others) should witness a profound change in your character, appetites and priorities.  You are no longer the person you once were.  As you progress in sanctification, you become more like Christ, and the following fruits should become increasingly apparent:[21]

  • You now view God as a loving Father and not merely as an angry Judge.  You live to please your heavenly Father, and you seek to spend time with Him in prayer, and in the study of His Word.
  • God's glory is now your greatest delight.  Your priorities shift profoundly from an emphasis on self to an emphasis on God, seeking to magnify His honor and glory in a sin-darkened world.  You become more preoccupied with knowing God and drawing closer to Him, and as you do, you find it easier to declare His glory to others you meet.  Worship increasingly becomes the highlight of your life.
  • You now recognize the Bible to be God's holy, infallible Word, and hence you regard it, with great reverence, to be the supreme and final authority for all things pertaining to God and salvation.  You have a hunger to know more about God, and a willingness to submit to His teachings in order to draw closer to Him.
  • Faith is now a way of life for you. Faith is not simply a decision we make at the beginning of the Christian life.  As you travel the Christian life, you become increasingly aware of your daily need for God's mercy and grace, and so you pray often for the grace needed to endure trials and temptations.  When confronted with troubles, you are comforted by the thought that God has ordained them for your good and His glory, and that even our worst experiences are under His wise and sovereign control.
  • You now possess a new character that you did not have before—you possess more humility, more compassion, more kindness and more purity than before you came to Christ.  Yet, you are now more aware of your sinfulness than ever before.  The closer we get to God, the more sensitive we become to the sin that still dwells within us.  However, we do not despair, for we remember that it is Christ's righteousness, not our own, that protects us from God's wrath.  Also, we remain confident that God is faithful, and will continue to cleanse us by His Spirit and conform us more and more to the image of Christ.
  • You have a new love for the people of God.  You take great delight in meeting with others who share your love for God and for His Word.  You seek to use your gifts and talents to help build them up in the faith, even as you are helped and encouraged by the gifts God has given to them.
  • You have a longing for heaven—a desire to dwell in the manifest presence of your heavenly Father, and to be finally rid of the sin and suffering that is so prevalent in this life.
Those who are born of God will still at times stumble into sin or doubt, but God will always bring them back to faith and obedience. During this life, we will never be perfectly free from sin or suffering. God has ordained that we should be saved in an expectant hope of future perfection and glory.[22]

May God hasten the day when we will be brought into the glorious perfection of His promised kingdom![23]

It is my prayer for you, dear reader, that our Sovereign Creator will be pleased to save your miserable soul from following the wide path that leads to destruction, and that He will put a new heart within you that you might sing and declare His glory!
Amen, Lord Jesus, may it be so!

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