The gospel is the good news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The fact that Jesus Christ is alive from the dead is wonderful for several reasons.
First, it proves all that Jesus said and did were real. He claimed to be God in human flesh and he did mighty miracles, like healing people with incurable diseases, emptying the demons out of people, and altering nature. But in light of special effects then and now, it is only the resurrection that totally proves Jesus was true.
Second, it proves that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus wasn’t just at the wrong place at the wrong time and got himself crucified. He was intentionally giving his life in the place of sinners. He took God’s wrath, which sinners deserve, and offers those that repent and believe his righteousness. The reason you can know that great deal is a divine deal is that God brought Jesus back to life.
The resurrection also proves that there is more to eternity than just what happens between our birthday and the day of our death. You too will be raised when Jesus comes back either to eternal life or eternal destruction.
Finally, the resurrection is a sign of victory. If sin leads to death, and Jesus beat death down, which means he also conquered sin. That is great news for people like you and me that sin. There is hope for victory in your life too.
Sin is hard to conquer! Psychologists have actually created scientific names and labels for certain sins. Now you aren’t someone who doesn’t trust God and worries, you have an anxiety disorder. You aren’t simply enslaved to lust; you are now a sex addict. Instead of being an angry man or woman, you need any number of medications for the rest of your life.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe sin is addictive, and has unbelievable side effects and consequences. \I don’t blame people for trying to overcome their issues however they can. What the Bible teaches, however, is that Jesus has conquered sin and death and he can give you the power to defeat the sins tangling up your life.
The gospel really is good news—the greatest news of all. I think, however, far too many people get a very wrong message when they hear it. Even though your Christian friend is saying Black as they share the gospel, you are hearing White. Let me explain.
Perhaps you put people into two categories—good and bad. I think a lot of people naturally make this grouping. The Bible, however, adds a third category to these common groups.
The word religion can be used in a good way in the Bible, like in James 1:26-27 which says, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
The vast majority of the time in the Scriptures, however, the word religion has bad connotations. It refers to people trying to do religious acts and deeds in order to earn God’s favor. So instead of separating people into good and bad categories, let’s start by calling them irreligious and religious.
Irreligious people could be people that want nothing to do with God. They are just living for the moment—for their own pleasure and pride. Money, sex, and power are major gods of our irreligious friends and family members.
Religious people include sincere followers of other religions like Islam or Buddhism, but the majority of religious people I run into at least occasionally attend Christian churches.
Religious people pray, sometimes read their Bibles, and even give money to the church or other charities. Religious people try to be good folks, and certainly want to be thought of as good folks by those around them.
When people hear the good news of Jesus and the resurrection, and then the right response to that news, repentance and faith, what do they hear? Sadly, I’ve come to think they hear: “Be Religious!” Please, correct me if I’m wrong, but would you say that is the way it often comes across to you? Maybe you have Christian friends or have just faithfully read my articles and thought they or I have called you to become more religious.
That is so sad to me because that is not what I want you to do at all.
The third category of people the Bible describes is hopeless and helpless sinners who are trusting in Jesus. The call is not to religious devotion, but to recognize your religious efforts are futile.
Did it ring true to you when I talked about how hard it is to overcome your sins? Turning over a new religious leaf will only show you how you can never be good enough to please God. Remember in the stories of Jesus that the religious leaders of Israel did lots of praying, “church attending,” fasting, and giving of their money. They thought they had pleasing God down to a science.
Instead of commending them, Jesus blasted through their religion. He said you’ve got to know you are sick before you even want to go to doctor. Religion is so dangerous because doing Christiany things can make you feel like you are healthy. Unfortunately, you are not well.
We are terrible sinners. We sin from earliest childhood. We are enslaved to our sin. We are guilty of big and little sins—and lots of them. We will be judged by God for our sins.
Here’s where the good news really becomes good. Jesus died for sinners and he really did rise from the dead. I’m not calling you to become religious at this point. I’m calling you to repent of your sins AND repent of your religion! You need to see your complete spiritual poverty before God and cry out to him for mercy.
Because of Jesus, God will give overflowing mercy to all who call on him like that. How about you? Look at your life. Are you irreligious, religious, or a helpless sinner in need of mercy? If you see yourself in need of a spiritual doctor with a terminal disease of sin, by all means believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
By John Crotts