The Good News of Jesus Christ

Published on October 21, 2019 4:34:54 PM - Modified on October 15, 2020 1:14:49 PM - Written by Robert Chambers

For many, the knowledge of Jesus comes from family tradition or what has been heard or read piecemeal in sermons, classes and publications over the years.  Often this is a jumbled collection of topics tainted by human doctrines confusing the actual message from God. Although the truth can be found in what God has revealed through the inspired text of the Bible, some are too intimidated by the Bible’s volume and content to investigate things for themselves.  

Christianity is not really hard to understand, nor does it require a blind faith.  It is a logical accounting of reality that provides meaning and purpose to life and death.  However, to grasp the big picture and fully appreciate the Good News of Jesus Christ, it is important to lay the proper foundation in an orderly fashion.  That foundation is based on five key pillars of truth:

  1. Relationship & Identity
  2. The Bible: The Source of Truth
  3. The Problem of Sin
  4. God’s Gift of Salvation
  5. Claiming God’s Gift of Salvation


Relationship & Identity


Christianity is all about a relationship between God and humankind, and to understand that relationship, it is important to know something about the parties involved. The Bible identifies God as the Spirit Being who created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1-2; Hebrews 11:3) and all things in them including life itself (Acts 17:24-25).  Since the Creator existed when there was no creation, God clearly must dwell in another realm, i.e., a higher dimensional, spiritual realm that encompasses and transcends our physical domain.  Among all the living creatures populating the earth, human beings are unique, having been created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27) possessing not only a physical body of flesh and blood but a spirit as well (1 Corinthians 2:11). That spiritual bond explains the great lengths to which God has gone to preserve fellowship with humanity.  It might even be said that humans have a piece of God within.  Being God’s offspring makes us children of a Heavenly Father, one who loves us and wants us to be like Him - holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:14-16).  God’s desire is for humans to be “set apart”, mimicking His purity and wholesomeness, separated from all unholy, evil things.


The Bible: The Source of Truth


An objective, rational person can look at the vastness and complexity of the working universe and realize there must have been a Creator.  However, unless that Creator chooses to reveal things affecting our relationship and existence, we have no way to acquire spiritual knowledge.  Knowing that, God has revealed Himself to humankind over the course of time in many portions and many ways (Hebrews 1:1-2). Today, through the inspired text of the Bible, we are equipped with the complete (Jude 3), written record of everything God has provided for our teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  It is a guidebook for holy living offering peace, comfort and the true meaning and purpose in life.  Being inspired by God, the Bible is our sole source of spiritual knowledge, authority and truth.  

How do we know the Bible truly is inspired by God?  There are many reasons:

  1. It claims to be inspired (2 Timothy 3:16). To make such a bold, confident declaration invites scrutiny making the Bible a lightning rod for all to attack, and yet, it has survived the challenge for thousands of years.
  2. Its exhibits amazing unity. Although these 66 books were written in 3 different languages by more than 40 men over a time span of 1500-1600 years, there are no conflicts or inconsistencies. There is unity and harmony in theme, content, plan, and doctrine. 
  3. Its prophecies are accurately fulfilled both in proper timing and specific details. Examples include Jeremiah’s prediction of a 70-year captivity for Judah (Jeremiah 25:9-12) and Isaiah (Isaiah 44:26-28) naming King Cyrus as the one who would allow rebuilding of the temple 150 years later. There are some 450 Old Testament prophecies of Christ and His Kingdom.
  4. It reports facts impartially telling the good and the bad about people contrary to the bias exhibited by human authors. Noah was a righteous preacher (Genesis 6) who got drunk (Genesis 9:21). David, a man after God’s heart (1 Samuel 13:14), also committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11:1-15). The Apostle Peter denied Jesus 3 times (Matthew 26:69-75).
  5. The Bible has proven to be indestructible surviving thousands of years despite attempts to destroy it.  Over 5 billion copies have been printed.
  6. It advocates a higher code of conduct contrary to conventional human wisdom. The Bible says love your enemies (Matthew 5:44), consider it joy facing trials (James 1:2), and don’t store up treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19).  These only make sense based on God’s higher plan where there is life beyond the grave, and the best is yet to come.
  7. The Bible is historically accurate in all details. Archeology has verified Biblical accounts (e.g., Hittites). New Testament facts are confirmed by Jewish historians like Josephus. It accurately references topography, compass directions and customs of the time.
  8. It is scientifically accurate stating truths that were unknown to science until centuries later. Some examples are: the round shape of the earth (Proverbs 8:27; Isaiah 40:22); the earth is suspended on nothing (Job 26:7); the universe is wearing out –  2nd law of thermodynamics (Isaiah 51:6; Psalms 102:26); and life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11)



The Problem of Sin


While the word “sin” is correctly associated with violating God’s laws and commands, a more precise definition comes from the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words found in the original inspired Bible manuscripts. These words convey the idea of “missing the mark” like an archer whose arrow strays from hitting the bullseye on the target.  Since the intent for human beings (i.e., God’s offspring) is to be holy just like our Heavenly Father, the figurative target we are to aim for is the “holiness of God”.  When we fail to be holy by doing something unholy, we sin. 

Because God is just, our sin must have consequences.  God cannot simply ignore sin for that would be unjust.  When we “miss the mark” (e.g., break God’s law), our sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2).  We are disfellowshipped because a holy God must be “set apart” from sin and all things unholy. To do otherwise would taint God making Him unholy.  That can never be.  While the loss of God’s fellowship may be tolerable during life on earth, it will not be when our spirit enters the spiritual realm.  In physical death, the body decays to the dust of the earth, but the spirit is released returning to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).  In the spiritual realm, sin brings spiritual death (Romans 6:23) – a total separation from God in eternity.  To be denied fellowship with God in eternity means being deprived of all the blessings that God supplies:  love, peace, joy, comfort, light, goodness, etc.  With all godliness removed, all that remain are hate, turmoil, sorrow, torment, darkness, evil, etc.   That portrays Hell – an eternity separated from God.  The Bible describes Hell in physical terms we can understand as a furnace of eternal fire with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:49-50; 25:41).  We have never experienced such a place nor would we ever want to.
 

The problem of sin is “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  As a result, if left to our own means, we are all headed to Hell.
 

God's Gift of Salvation


Fortunately, God loves us and does not want anyone to experience the hopelessness and anguish of Hell.  But, how can a holy God remain just and spare humanity from spiritual death?  The solution required the sacrificial offering of the Son of God (John 3:16).   

Jesus was a man of flesh and blood who possessed a spirit that was The Word also known as the Son of God (John 1:1-3, 14).  Being deity in the flesh (Philippians 2:5-8), Jesus was able to live a life without sin, maintaining full fellowship with the Heavenly Father and deserving no punishment for sin.  In spite of this, Jesus willingly accepted the consequence for our sins in His death on the cross (1 Peter 2:21-25).  That was a perfect sacrifice of the just for the unjust once for all (1 Peter 3:18).  Being justified by the offering of Christ, who took our place, we now have a way to escape the wrath of God, be reconciled to the Heavenly Father (Romans 5:9-11) and gain a future home in Heaven with Him (1 Peter 1:3-4).  The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus prove that He is the Son of God (Romans 1:4) and that a solution to the problem of sin now exists through Him (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
 

The question now becomes: how do we claim God’s gift of salvation made available through the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins?


Claiming God's Gift of Salvation


Because God gave us free will, we are able to make decisions for ourselves. It is the poor choices we have made in the past that created the sin problem in the first place.  Even though God has provided a solution to the problem of sin through the death of Jesus on the cross, He still allows us the freedom to accept or reject Jesus.  God does not force salvation on anyone, but rejecting Jesus is a certain path to Hell.  Our sins are forgiven only through His sacrifice offering redemption leading to an eternity with God in the glorious Kingdom of Heaven. 

During His earthly ministry, Jesus taught how to be saved, mentioning four steps that are absolutely necessary (our obedience of faith).  First, one must believe in Jesus as the Son of God (John 8:24).  To deny this fact is to say Jesus was just another man, making Him out to be a liar and a sinner, no longer a perfect sacrifice for sin.  Second, one must repent (Luke 13:3, 5), turn away from a life of sin and walk in the light (1 John 1:5-7) by agreeing to pursue a life of holiness.  Anything less would be asking for unconditional forgiveness and freedom to continue in sin without consequence.  That defies the nature of a just and holy God.  Third is confessing the belief that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:10).  This confession affirms the reason for our repentance by attributing a changed lifestyle to the belief in Jesus.  The final step in the path to salvation is baptism.  Jesus said, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16).  The importance of baptism is confirmed by the teachings of the apostles on the Day of Pentecost when baptism was cited as necessary to obtain the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
 

Based on the definition of the Greek word specified in the original inspired manuscripts, we know that Christian baptism is an immersion in water.  “Baptism now saves you - not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience – through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).  According to Scripture, this is the way we call on the name of the Lord for our salvation (Romans 10:13).  In the act of baptism, we are buried with Christ into His death (Romans 6:3-8), putting our sinful nature to death and rising a new creature.  No longer separated from God by sin, we are a Christian, reconciled to God through Jesus, having the hope of eternity with God in Heaven.
 

“But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life” (Romans 6:22)
  

Resources