The Gospel of Jesus Christ
In God’s beautiful and perfect creation, man chose to disobey God and bring upon themselves the curse of sin and death. While the bridge between God and man was broken, God had a plan of redemption through his son Jesus Christ who came to Earth as both God and man and paid the penalty of death we all deserve. This gift of eternal life is free to all who choose to accept Christ as their savior.
I’ve grown up my entire life a Christian, and it wasn’t until high school that I ACTUALLY learned what the Gospel is. You may think to yourself, “Yeah I know it, it’s pretty basic in understanding,” and to those who think as such, I would encourage you to dive into this article in its fullness. You may be surprised how much you may have missed in the true full story of the Gospel. And for those who have never heard it before, I’m excited for you to hear the best story ever created in the world. It’ll be a bit long, but this is going to be by far, the most important concept of all Chrsitianity to understand. Let’s dive in...
Have you ever once thought to yourself, “Why do I exist?” In the unlikeliness that you haven’t, go ahead and ask yourself that question now and see if you can come up with an answer. Good, bad, or maybe neutral, you now hold some view as to how the world came to be and you as well.
Maybe your whole life you have always believed in the Big Bang Theory as well as evolution and that the metanarrative (overall story) of the world’s existence is nothing but random chance. Or maybe you have some other form of a belief. And maybe you are pretty firm on it. And that’s okay! But before diving into the story of Jesus and the beautiful Gospel, I would encourage you to take a step back from everything you have ever learned and almost pretend that you are learning it all from the beginning again. And believe it as truth, even just hypothetically, for the article, and see how it helps your understanding.
Before the creation of the world, the only thing that existed was God. I know, it sounds complicated and you might be asking “Who created God?” and the short answer is, He has always been and always will be (meaning he never has a beginning). Our minds understand beginning and end but His understanding and power goes beyond our tiny lil brains. But we will leave that concept in fullness for another article. For now, let’s continue on. So in the beginning, it says in Genesis 1:1 that “God created the Heavens and the Earth.” Beyond this God spoke everything into creation from the galaxies, stars, solar system, and most importantly, Earth. Everything He created was perfect. From the blue skies and mid 70’s to animal and man there was complete harmony. Imagine your favorite place in the world to vacation, and times it by 100. Life was perfect. Scripture says that God created man and woman in His own likeness and that their purpose in life was to follow God’s first great commision: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:28). For as long as time was for them, they did so. Adam and Eve, the first two humans, lived in complete harmony with God. It says that the Lord “walked in the cool of the day with them” (Gen 3:8). The only commandment given outside of this, was to not eat from the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil, and that even if they touched it, they would die. Not much is known about this tree other than its name and that it was forbidden. No time gap is really given but what we do know that happens next is that there came a serpent who tempted Eve into eating from it. He said “Did God really tell you not to eat from this tree?... Surely you will not die but you will be like God.” Tempted enough to disobey God’s one ordinance, Eve ate from the tree and gave some to Adam to eat as well. This choice made by both Adam and Eve, birthed into the world what we know as “sin.” Sin, in its Greek root, means “missing the mark,” coming from the concept of archery and missing the bullseye. In the same way, anytime we choose to sin, we are “falling short of the glory of God” Romans 6:23. This is the moment in history we know as: “The Fall.”
The Greatness of Sin
Immediately after the two had sinned, they noticed that they were naked and were ashamed and grabbed leaves to cover themselves. By trying to be like God, they had come to realize that they had disobeyed Him and the one rule they were given to follow. Upon the Lord entering the garden and seeing what had been done, He had no choice but to separate them from himself. Why? Because God is perfect and holy and in order for Adam and Eve to be in harmony with him, they had to also be holy. Upon this separation, the Lord also cursed mankind and the serpent. In His words, not mine,
“The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:14,16-19
This is pretty much the part of the story where everything goes downhill. From here, man and woman are separated from God and it seems as if all hope is lost. Yet, right before God sends them out of the Garden of Eden (the paradise they lived in), He gives them a promise that one day there will be someone who will crush the head of the serpent and the serpent will strike his heel. Sounds ludicrous right? It may, and most likely does, but soon enough it will make sense. What God was basically promising is that one day the world will be right again with Him, it’s only a matter of time.
Where Do We Go From Here?
So fast forward a few thousand years and stories here and there pass of those God interacts with on Earth, we get to the story of a man named Abraham. Abraham, was a man called by God to start the process of redemption. How so? By making a “covenant” with him that made many promises.
“And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3
I breezed over this word “Covenant” and want to make sure you are aware of this word and how important of a role it plays in this. Different from a promise, a covenant is a seal between God and humanity and that if they obey what the Lord commands, He will bless them with the promises He gives. The only thing is, while with a promise it can’t be broken and parties may be unfaithful, the Lord never turns back from His promises. Very soon you will see that He makes a few more along the way in this story and how beautiful His faithfulness is.
This has been a lot so far and you're a trooper for sticking with it. Breathe for a second and reflect to make sure you are following along as I dive in the second half of this beautiful Gospel!
Let’s recap what we have covered so far:
1. The Lord designed a perfect and beautiful world that mankind was made to live in peace and harmony with Him in.
2. The two first humans, Adam and Eve, are given complete freedom throughout the land except for ONE rule not to break and what do they do? They break it (good going guys, appreciate it).
3. The Lord separates them from the Garden because of their sin and disobedience and that God can only have His full presence where there is no sin.
4. Mankind is cursed, the serpent is cursed, but the Lord promises that one day things will revert back to the Earth that God intended for.
5. The Lord interacts with different people throughout time and we land at the story of Abraham and the initiation of this reconciliation process.
IN THE PROCESS (This stuff is muy importante)
So Abraham chooses to answer the calling on His life from God and pursues this adventure of a lifetime following the steps of God. This pursuit is to eventually get Him and his people to what is known as the Promised Land (a land made for the people of Israel aka God’s People). But long story short the journey isn’t as easy as you would think. Abraham doesn’t get to the land quite yet and eventually has a son named Isaac, and Isaac has a son named Jacob, and from Jacob (who’s name eventually becomes Israel), has 12 sons who became the 12 tribes of Israel. As these 12 tribes of Israel are growing, we can see the promises of God to Abraham unfolding as his descendants grow exponentially. At this point in the story, Israel is living in the land of Egypt and growing faster than Egypt can handle. So, they enslaved them in order to control their growing population and maintain power over them. This period lasted about 400 years until the Lord was ready to take them out of slavery. While God could EASILY tear down walls and destroy Egypt and set them free, He most often loves to use His people for His mission, and that brings us to Moses. Moses, was born an Israelite in Pharoah’s household and was called by God to help free the Israelites from slavery. What follows is an incredible story of God using Moses and his brother Aaron to bring about 10 powerful plagues on Egypt that forces Pharoah to let them go. Moses, then leads them into the desert on a 40 year journey to the Promised Land. As this journey starts, Moses meets God on the top of a mountain known as Mount Sinai. From here the Lord gives Moses 10 Commandments for the Israelites to follow that not only bring glory to God in their obedience, but also to give guidance on how they can experience life to the full with Him.
The Importance of Sacrifices
I would say undoubtedly that this is the part most Christians miss that is the most important aspect of our faith. As Moses receives commandments for the people to follow, he also receives many other smaller commandments in regard to the building of the Tabernacle (God’s dwelling place), human disputes, actions, and sacrifices. Sacrifices you say? What are the people sacrificing? Why the heck is God telling the people to kill things? Great questions, let’s address them:
If we go all the way back to the fall of mankind with Adam and Eve, you will notice that the Lord clothed Adam and Eve after they had sinned and brought death into the world:
'And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. - Genesis 3:21
In order for God to have made these skins, the death of an animal was required. What this shows us is that in order for us to be covered of our sin, sacrifice has to be made. This was the first time in human history that we see the need for a sacrifice. As time goes on, not a lot is seen about sacrifices until Moses at Mount Sinai. God explains to Moses that in order for the sins of the people to be forgiven, there needed to be a sacrifice where the blood of an animal was shed. And not just any animal, one that was pure and without blemish. Why? For many reasons. First, because sin brings about death as a consequence of sin. So in order to make up for that penalty of death, an animal could be a substitute. This also served as a constant reminder to the people of how serious their sin was and that it leads to death. And secondly, in order for them to be in right relationship with God, they MUST be pure and sinless. So people who desired to be in right relationship with God needed to provide sacrifices for their sins. Inside of the Tabernacle, later to become the Temple (you should look up a picture of it to get a better understanding, it was beyond breathtaking), there was a place in the back behind a very thick curtain (or veil) known as the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence dwelled. Well, every year, there was a day known as Yom Kippur or in our understanding, The Day of Atonement, and this day represented a series of sacrifices that were made in order to cover the sins of the entire nation of Israel. But in order for these sacrifices to be made, only one person, The High Priest, would be allowed into there. But ONLY, if he performed the right sacrifices beforehand to cleanse himself of sins. Why? Because the Holiness of God is SO great, that anybody who was not completely holy as him, would burn up and die. It’s crazy. And not because he doesn’t approve of them, or love them, but simply because our human bodies cannot fathom or handle the Holiness. Best analogy I can give is getting too close to the sun. So for the high priest, even after all of the sacrifices he would make, they would still tie a rope around him in the case that he did die, they could pull his body out. The point of all this is that God required the sacrifice of a pure and blemish free animal (certain kinds, not just any), to not only remind the people of how serious their sin is and atone for their penalty of death, but it also foreshadowed the need for a much bigger sacrifice because these sacrifices were never enough and had to be done all the time every year. I know we skimmed over it, but when Moses was nearing the freeing of the Israelites from slavery, the Lord had one last plague to give to the evil nation. This final plague was that the Angel of Death would pass over the whole nation and kill every first born there was. This included the Israelites. But in order for the angel of Death to pass over the homes of Israelites, they needed to kill a pure lamb and spread the blood of it on the door post. On that day, the Angel of Death killed every first born child except for all of the Israelites who were saved by the blood of the lamb. This part is HUGE for later on so don’t forget that!
Now that we got sacrifices understood a little better, let’s continue with the story:
From here, after the 40 years of wandering in the desert with Moses, Moses passes away and his predecessor Joshua, led Israel as they made their way to the Promised Land. They then delegate land to each tribe, and the long awaited promise of God to Abraham is now fulfilled, a nation for Israel. This next portion of the timeline is filled with different ups and downs with the nation as they obey and disobey God’s ordinances. Eventually, they get to a point where the nation demands for a king. This is where one of the key figures in this story comes into play: David. David was a young lad who was the youngest of 7 brothers and primarily spent his time as a shepherd. This boy eventually grew up to do amazing things and became the greatest king to ever reign over Israel. David was known as a man after God’s own heart. He for sure had his moments in some deep sin but always found himself back at the feet of God, repenting, lamenting, and recommiting his life to serving God. God, seeing the faithfulness of David, establishes a new covenant with him. This covenant, known as the Davidic Covenant, is very important in the metanarrative of the Bible. Located in 2 Samuel 7, I encourage you to read the full chapter. This in short, is what the Lord promised to him:
“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me[b]; your throne will be established forever.’” -2 Samuel 7:11-16.
After this covenant is established, David continues his life as King until his son succeeds him, and then the next son, and so forth for about a millenia, or 1000 year. And this covenant established with David lines us up perfectly with the start of the Gospels and Jesus.
The Long Awaited Messiah
If you open your book up to Matthew chapter 1, you will notice that the first verse that sets the stage for Jesus is a genealogy tracing his lineage all the way back to David. While the average person today would read that and skim it or ultimately skip it, this was THE most important thing to establish before even considering writing about Jesus. Why? This is where these previous covenants come into play and are so key to understanding the validity of Christ and his life. The people of Israel knew that a messiah was coming. Moses even said it himself in Deuteronomy 18:15
“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.”
So as these people were waiting for the Messiah to come, they anticipated someone from the line of David to emerge as him. Matthew, the writer of his own book, was a Jew who understood the importance of this and that the people would read about Jesus and know that He truly is the one Messiah if they first saw that he fulfills so many of the prophecies that have been given. That being said, we now have FINALLY reached the pinnacle of human history. Born of the virgin women Mary, Jesus came into this world both 100% God and 100% human. An angel came to Mary in the night as said:
'In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” - Luke 1:26-33
Notice the angel says “...the throne of his father David…” It seems so minute (small), but to any Jew who was looking for the Messiah, this was a clear sign that it would be Jesus tying back to 2 Samuel 7! This is also a reference to Isaiah 9:6 prophesying that a son would be born who would rule the world as well. So born into this world in a manger, Jesus, was just like any other baby. Little is truly known about the childhood of Jesus other than that he was taught to be a carpenter under his father and spent the rest of his time studying scripture. 30 years into his life, Jesus knew it was time for him to start his ministry.
A key thing to note as well is that many of the prophecies made about the Messiah involved establishing his Kingdom and making the world right again. So the people of Israel, when recognizing who the Messiah was, would anticipate him taking over the Roman Empire at the time, ridding the nation of its corrupt government, and establish the Kingdom of God. While this fiery blazing warrior of a savior sounds epic, this wasn’t exactly what he did. This isn’t to say that those prophecies were false, what it is to say, is that those prophecies will be fulfilled when Jesus returns to Earth for a second time. As for his first visit to Earth, his role was much different than people expected. Jesus spent his life and ministry serving those around them and teaching with a certain authority that trumped that of the religious leaders at the time known as the Pharisees. Philippians 2: 6-7 says “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Jesus eventually during the start of his ministry, gave the calling for those to follow him and the cost of it to hundreds of people and was left with 12 dudes. These 12 dudes became the 12 disciples of Jesus. Seems odd that only 12 would want to follow Jesus, but as we continually learn in our faith, the true cost of following Jesus really is a lot and for those who live comfortably with what they have and do, aren’t willing to sacrifice for Christ. From here, his ministry continues. He performs miracles like crazy, teaches powerful lessons, spends time with the outcasts in society, and pours into the 12 disciples ramping them up for the ministry that would eventually take place. All the while, Jesus has not once sinned. And as this time goes on, the religious leaders started to despise Jesus and all that he was teaching. Not long into his ministry, there were several attempts by them to capture Jesus and throw him in jail for unjust reasons. They tried to trick him into saying the wrong things, making the wrong move, or ultimately sinning so that they could have something to actually pin on him. This distaste for Jesus only built up to a hatred that eventually demanded that he be murdered and shut up once and for all. While Jesus knew this was coming, he also knew what his mission was on Earth and that his death was nearing. His disciples were not fully aware of what Jesus was going to do so there was not a concern against him and the religious leaders. After miracles upon miracles from walking on water, multiplying fish and bread to feed 15,000+ people, raising people from the dead, and casting out demons, his impact and validity as the Son of God grew greater. While his disciples anticipated this to be a lifelong side by side ministry redeeming the planet after doing so for 3 years, Jesus knew that his time was nearing for his ultimate sacrifice. He knew that one of his disciples would betray him and hand him over to the authorities and rather than feeling or fighting, he submitted His will to the Father’s.
The New Lamb
In the last 24 hours of his life, Jesus gathered his disciples into a room and prepared for them the celebration of Passover. Remember, Passover was a key celebration of when the Angel of Death passed over the Israelites in Egypt with the blood of the lamb painted on their doorposts. As they broke the bread and shared wine as they always did, Jesus started to relay this image of Him as the lamb, and that his blood and body would be broken for all of humanity for death to pass over. This was KEY to helping them understand that what Jesus was going to do was bigger than just ruling the nations and judging them all. What Christ had come to do was atone for the sin of mankind as the ultimate sacrifice.
Later that night after the Last Supper, Judas (one of the twelve disciples), brought the religious leaders to Jesus to have him taken away. From here Jesus was put on trial and decided by the people that He should be put to death. They also tortured him by ripping him from his clothes, crowning him with a crown of thorns, giving him what many believe was 39 lashes to the back, and concluded by making him carry the cross he was to be nailed to up Calvary Hill (where he was to be killed). They drove nails into his hands and feets and propped the cross upright where he hung before the people, dripping sweat and suffocating. As Jesus was nearing his last breath, he spoke that he was thirsty (fulfilling another prophecy), and the guards gave him wine soaked in a sponge. After drinking from it, Jesus said his final word, “Tetelestai,” meaning “It is finished.” This is referring to Jesus drinking from the cup of God’s wrath and becoming the sacrifice for mankind that was God’s promise since the beginning. Right after this, the world became dark for three hours and the veil that was in the Temple (that separated the presence of God from the rest of the world) was torn in half. In other words, Jesus bridged the gap between man and God and we no longer have to be separated from him. Through the sacrifice of Christ, we are made Holy in His eyes and can be with Him wherever we go.
The Price Has Been Paid.
By Jesus dying on the cross, he not only redeemed the relationship between God and man, he also took on the death that each and every human deserves. We are reminded of this from 1 John 2:2 which states “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” Something to note is that sin is sin. There is no “lying is less than murder” or “thinking about is less than doing it.” Jesus made sure to clear the playing field when he led his ministry on earth. He pointed out that what God sees is not the actions but the heart. Matthew 5: 21-22 states “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Jesus did this to many of the commandments and showed them that it isn’t only about the actions, God sees our hearts and our minds. Just because we haven’t actually slept with the other person, doesn’t mean that we didn’t already do it in our hearts. No one is less or more guilty of the sins committed in this world. It’s hard to hear, and it’s tough truth, because we tend to look light on ourselves but heavy on others but none of us get to walk free. In another article, we will expand the truth of just how severe our sin is and how desperately we need a savior. But for now, know that our sins, no matter how big or small, are all deserving of eternal death and punishment, and that Jesus has taken that punishment on himself.
His Death Wasn’t Final
While His death played such a huge role in God’s plan, it was not the final move of God. Three days after the death of Jesus, he rose from the grave and defeated death. Scripture tells us that he appeared to over 500 people including his 12 disciples before he ascended into heaven. Upon seeing his disciples, he gave them what we know as the Great Commission. To us today, it is still relevant more than ever before. Here are the words directly from the King of Kings:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”'
Jesus gave this message and upon leaving, gave the disciples the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. He is to be a helper that is better than Jesus (according to his own words) that everyone who believes in Jesus has and always will have. After doing so, Jesus ascended into heaven and the apostles began their ministry. The stories of them and others like the Apostle Paul are found in the book of Acts and followed by letters written by them to different churches and regions.
The Altar Call
There is no more beautiful message than the love story we see in the Bible. John 3:16 puts it pretty dang well saying “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Not only did Jesus die for us, but he offers the gift of eternal life to anyone who chooses to believe in him and confess that he is Lord. There is no work that can give us salvation, no amount of being good, no other substitute to this free gift except Jesus Christ himself. John 14:6 says: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” Romans 6:23 that says “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift in God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This amazing gift is only offered to us by Jesus and his hand is now reached out to you. Is this something you desire? Jesus not only gives us the peace of promise that comes with eternal life but he also brings life and to the full! John 10:10 my favorite verse says “The thief (Satan) only comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come so that you may have life and to the full.” Life with him has brought me so much peace to my stress and anxiety, trust in the middle of so many unknowns in life, security in my eternal spirit, joy in the midst of pain, comfort in the times of sorrow, and so much more that I should just write a book on. Life with Jesus is BEYOND worth it. It might be scary. You may have a life that you are comfortable living in and don’t want change. That’s super understandable and even relatable. But what I have come to learn is we don’t grow when we are comfortable. When we settle for the things of this world, we miss out on the riches that Jesus has for us. Not financial riches, that’s not guaranteed. But a peace like no other, a joy and love that cannot be compared to anything of this world can only be found in Jesus. It might be scary, it might be nerve wracking, but it is sooooooo worth it, and Jesus has his arms out ready for you:) All you have to do, is pray. Talk to God, invite him into your heart and confess to him that He is Lord and that you believe that he died for your sins just like he did for all of us. There’s no script, no right or wrong way to say it, just be real with him. Go somewhere alone, turn off the phone, close your eyes or do whatever is comfortable for you, and talk with Him. We will have more resources below on guidance with what is next as a follower and what you can do, but for now, let your focus just be Jesus. What’s crazy is He already knows you. He knows your name and he loves you more than anything in the world. Enough to die for you. He wants to be everything for you and at the cost of nothing.
That, is the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.