“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”— 1 Timothy 1:15

After God made all that he had made, he fashioned man as the pinnacle of creation. God formed Adam and Eve after his own image and likeness, and he gave them dominion over all the earth (Genesis 1:26-27). God blessed them and gave them every living thing to enjoy so they might be fruitful and fill the earth. In looking on the work of his hands, God declared his creation was “very good” (Genesis 28-31).

God appointed Adam to be a federal head, or representative, of all who came after him. As God’s servant-king, Adam was to work in the garden and protect it. But he was solemnly charged not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-16). Disgracefully, Adam disobeyed God by distrusting his Word, by failing to protect the garden from the evil one, and by taking the fruit of the forbidden tree. Thus Adam sinned and all creation with him incurred the guilt of his sin and inherited in themselves the corruption of their human nature (Romans 5:12-19; 8:31).

Every man and woman born after Adam is “born in sin” (Psalm 51:5). Even though the law of God is plainly revealed to man, he cannot obey it. So rather than obeying God by doing good works, and being justified by his law, he rebels against it! By sinning against God’s law and violating his commands man incurs the guilt of sin and is condemned by that same law (Romans 2:12-16; Ephesians 2:12).

But God spoke a life-giving promise to Adam in Genesis 3:15. In the fullness of time, God would send a child who would crush the head of the serpent and undo the curse. Adam and Eve, along with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and a long line of men and women in the Old Testament believed God’s promise and trusted him by faith that a “righteous branch” would come to redeem God’s people (Jeremiah 23:5).

What Is the Gospel?

The gospel is the announcement of “good news” that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ became incarnate, obeyed God’s law on our behalf, suffered in our place, was crucified, and was raised for our salvation. It is the victorious announcement that “God saves sinners.”

The Apostle Paul summarized it this way, “I remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you…that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:1–4). Whereas the law only had the power to condemn sinners, the gospel contains the power of God for salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16; 8:3).

Jesus’ entire earthly ministry was about fulfilling the promise that God spoke to Adam and publishing this good news (1 Corinthians 15:45). The Gospel of Luke records how Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth and stood up to read from the scroll of Isaiah.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn… ” (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Jesus concluded his reading with these words, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). What was he saying? Jesus was saying that not only has he come as the herald of the gospel, bringing good news, but even more that he is the gospel.

As the eternal Son of God, he became man so that he might be our perfect mediator (Hebrews 7:26-27). Jesus had to be truly man to live under the law and obey it on our behalf in order to satisfy God’s righteous requirement against sin. Jesus had to be truly God so that by his incorruptible life he might overcome the grave and be raised to newness of life.

The gospel declares that Jesus willingly obeyed the Law of God, perfectly fulfilling its requirements and earning righteousness, and that he did so for us. Though he was sinless, Christ suffered on behalf of sinners. Jesus offered himself on the cross on our behalf (Romans 3:25-26; 1 Peter 2:24). There, he bore our sins and carried our transgressions (Isaiah 53:11-12). Breathing his last breath, Jesus said, “it is finished” (John 19:20). The sacrificial Son satisfied the Father’s wrath.

After three days in the tomb, Jesus triumphantly rose from the grave, openly declaring that he is the “resurrection and the life” (John 11::25-26). The Christian’s great hope is that Christ has conquered sin, death, and hell (1 Corinthians 15:26; 54-56). His resurrection is the “first fruits” or sure promise that all who believe in him will likewise be raised with him on the last day (Acts 17:31). Until that day, Jesus reigns at his Father’s right hand as our Prophet, Priest, and King, building His church, interceding for us, and reigning over all things.

To be a Christian is to be “in Christ.” All of these blessings and benefits come to the Christian in union with Christ (Galatians 2:15-17; Romans 6:1-11). In Christ, we receive justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification (Romans 8:30). Justification is an act of God’s free grace, whereby he pardons all our sins and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, in which we are received into his family, and have a right to all the privileges of the Sons of God. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, in which we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God and are enabled more and more to die unto sin and live unto righteousness (Westminster Shorter Catechism, 33-35).

Every gift of the gospel is wonderful, but the greatest gift is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. He assures us that there is absolutely nothing that “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). With that assurance, the Holy Spirit floods the conscience of the Christian believer with the love of God, peace in the soul, joy in heart, an increase of grace for living, and perseverance to the end.

If you have questions about the gospel, or if you have recently become a Christian, we encourage you to contact one of our pastors. It would be our greatest privilege to help you come to know the Lord Jesus.