"It wasn't a potential atonement actuated by the sinner, it was an actual atonement initiated by the savior."

John MacArthur

Romantic gift box

Understanding the biblical presentation of the Gospel – Part I

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What does the Bible say about the Gospel?

The world is full of different gospels. From “ask Jesus into your heart” to a special anointing of the Holy Spirit. So, what does the Bible teach about the gospel? Let’s break it down.

All men sin

Now that’s true, almost no one will deny this, and Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” In other words, God is perfect, and we’re not.

The penalty for sin is death

Here’s where you start to get a little resistance. To many, this may be somewhat of a shocking statement. Deep down, everyone knows that there is some universal system of justice. That is why the bible states in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death” Very simply, God is sinless and there is a penalty for our sins. Now, you can’t sugarcoat this. The penalty for sin is eternal damnation in hell. Not many converse about hell. Jesus does, however, and He even describes it in detail. In Matthew 25:46 He states, “…they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Jesus was fully God, fully man, and sinless

I can’t save you. I can’t even save myself. We need a sinless man who is willing to act as a substitute for our sins. That substitute is none other than Jesus Christ who is God, fully man, and sinless as 1 Timothy 2:5-6 states “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,  who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” The bible also claims Jesus as more than a sinless man – He is God as John 10:30 states “I and the Father are one.”

The free gift from God is eternal life

Now we have the complement to the verse above. Romans 6:23 continues “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This gift of grace is through faith and not works

Ephesians 2:8 is very clear that “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—”  This is totally consistent. A gift is not earned, and the Bible emphasizes that it is received by faith. It should be noted here, there are only two religions in the entire world, the faith of true Christianity and the work systems of all other religious systems.

Who is the subject of our “faith” and what should our faith be based upon?

Romans 10:9 answers that by stating “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

The subject of our faith is in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  We are to believe and rely on the fact that He died for our sins, and that God raised Him from the dead. It is this faith that results in the free gift of grace resulting in eternal life.

The additional aspect of repentance

The full gospel message is not “ask Jesus into your heart.” This “easy-believism” is very popular but not biblical.  Acts 3:19 further elaborates on the gospel when it states “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out…”  So, there is a turning away from sin in addition to a turning towards Jesus Christ as Lord.

Jesus died as a propitiation for our sins and overcame death

1 John 2:2 states “And He is the propitiation for our sins…” not only that, He was raised from the dead 1 Corinthians 15:12, 20-21 “He has been raised from the dead…but Christ has been raised from the dead…for since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead.”

Caveats and warnings

As a practical matter, the above Bible verses are sufficient to clearly share the gospel. Additionally, there are other verses that can be used to state the same principles, as the Bible is consistent in both the Old Testament and New Testament concerning salvation.

In Galatians 1:8 Paul gave a pretty strong warning when he said even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim a gospel to you contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let him be accursed!Altering or adding anything to the gospel like “grace plus something” makes it a different and ineffective gospel. We should take this admonishment seriously.

We also need to be aware of another critical issue with respect to presenting the Gospel, and that is found in Romans 10:17 “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” No matter how good or bad your presentation or debate skills, or life story, or natural powers of persuasion, “salvation is all of God” and the only power you have to lead others to salvation is the word of God, the Bible.

Finally, Matthew 28:19 states “go and make disciples of all nations…” This was Jesus’ last command and the power to make disciples is through sharing and teaching His word. Making disciples is not simply sharing the gospel, it is teaching about the Bible after someone accepts salvation. It is both an honor and a commitment to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel in a nutshell

All men sin. The only exception is the sinless, God-man, Jesus Christ. Justifiably, sin results in eternal death and punishment. Through God’s grace, He offers the free gift of eternal life or salvation, to those, who through faith, repent from their sins and place their trust in the substitutional death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.


Understanding the biblical presentation of the Gospel – Part II

Want to go deeper?

Where do faith and repentance come from?

How did Jesus answer when asked how to be saved?

What is election?

What is soteriology?

How does free will come into play with salvation?

Who coined the term “born again?”

Find out in Part II