The Gospel is good news because it means salvation to your soul, reconciliation with God our creator, and a promise that whatever problems you are going through, God will not leave you alone. There will be Grace and Mercy available to you. But it is accessed through faith in grace alone, believing that Jesus Christ was the perfect sacrifice to pay for your sins, and not because of your own works or confidence in your own flesh.
And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24)
It is that simple, and that much more powerful.
But allow me to go deeper into why the atonement from the death of Christ for us gives us righteousness, what is included in the gift of righteousness, and what it means to have “biblical faith”.
God always contrasts faith for salvation with works.
You can’t understand biblical faith for salvation without understanding that works are.
Romans 4 talks about the one that does not “work”. Let’s talk about this “work”.
Romans 4:1-3- What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scriptures say? “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Logizomai (Accounted to. Imputed.)
Romans 4:4- Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
If you work for someone under contract, that person owes you a debt. He owes you a salary.
Romans 4:5- But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.
Read carefully … God justifies which category of people? The Ungodly.
How can God justify the Ungodly? Isn’t it more intuitive that God justifies the godly?
When we correctly classify ourselves as ungodly, that we cannot save ourselves no matter how good we think we are and then ask for Jesus to save us, that’s faith. If we think we are so good that God must approve of us, that’s ignorant and prideful. God is the one to give the standard.
BUT, how can a thrice-holy God who cannot pass over sin justify you and I, the ungodly? He paid a price you and I could never pay.
If God just passes over sins and takes it all lightly, the first one to dispute that is the devil itself. The devil would say, “How can you, a holy God, who cannot pass over one sin, justify the ungodly?”
There must be a solid foundation.
God didn’t do it presumptuously, God did it on a righteous foundation.
Because of Christ’s death to atone for our sins, God is righteous in making us righteous. (Romans 1:25, Romans 3:25-26)
God loved you so much, that He sent His Son that was dear to his heart, dearer than all created intelligence.
He is more precious than all the worlds that God had created.
There was a time that God sent His Son and His Son died on the cross.
The One that passed the sentence on sinners judged and punished His son instead.
The penalty for our sins is spiritual death, and separation from God is a consequence because an unholy being cannot be one with a perfectly holy being.
Jesus took the punishment for the sins of the world on the cross. The punishment was so great that the Son that was one with the Father for eternity got temporarily separated. Imagine the strongest magnets stuck together. How much force do you need to pry them apart?
At the height of his stress, as He was dying on the cross, Jesus cried in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) (Matthew 27:46)
Jesus has been one with the Father since the beginning of time, for eternity, an unbreakable bond. This schism shows us the magnitude of our sins. It was that big because all the sins of the world, past, present, and future was on the shoulders of that Son. Your sins, my sins.
Before Jesus, God had instituted that His people have to atone for their sins by sacrificing a spotless lamb to represent them. But the blood of lambs and goats are temporary, Jesus was the perfect sacrifice. In fact, God instituted this sacrificial system as a shadow of the ultimate sacrifice to come.
This is why Jesus is called the Lamb of God because He was sinless and perfect. He was the only person that deserved all the blessings because of His perfection.
He was sinless in every way possible.
Peter, a man of action said “He did no sin” (1 Peter 2:22)
Paul, a man of intelligence said, “Jesus knew no sin.” (2 Cor 5:21)
John, a man of the heart, a man of love said, “in Him is no sin.” (1 John 1:8)
And yet a man that knew no sin became sin for us that we might be made into the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:21)
Jesus didn’t have to come down. He chose to come down.
Jesus says it like this, “I have power to lay down my life and I have power to take it up again. No one takes it from me.” (John 10:18)
At any time He could have gone back to the Father and He chose to die on the cross.
In his book The Jesus I never knew, Phillip Yancey says it like this, “In most religious traditions, fear is the primary emotion when one approaches God … In Jesus, God found a way of relating to human beings that did not involve fear.” I will go further. In Jesus, God found a way to help us humans quantify the extent of His love.
For God to become a man, is like me becoming an ant. He condescended himself in order to communicate His love and to save us in a way we can understanding. How else can we understand just how much God loves us? If God used lightning in the sky to say “I love you”, or if He gave you $10,000s of blessing, you would still not know just how much that is relative to God.
But if He becomes a man you can understand his limitations and vulnerabilities. You would never had known what His best is unless He made himself finite. Lightning in the sky and $10,000s of dollars is small relative to an infinite God. But now that He made Himself finite, we now can have a sense of the size of His sacrifices. His sacrifices can be measured by the pain He was willing to endure and what He was willing to lose.
Simone Weil says it like this, “Love consents to all and commends only those who consent. Love is abdication. God is abdication.”
Maybe that’s why I like the movie ant man in the movies. The man who had the power to step on ants could become as small as one including all the vulnerabilities that came with it. He was a man that reduced himself to the “nth”s degree. Get it?
At the cross, there was a divine transfer.
In Old Testament Temple times, under the Old Covenant of Law, to atone for sins, a person would symbolically transfer his unrighteousness and sins unto the spotless lamb and kill it. But the blood of bulls and goats will never be good enough to atone for all your sins. They were meant to be a temporary measure until the foretold perfect sacrifice came – Jesus. (Hebrews 10:1-10)
At the cross, Jesus took your sins, you took His righteousness. Jesus took the curse due to your sins, and you took His blessings instead. Jesus took your separation from God, you took Jesus’ proximity with God.
A divine exchange. A Beautiful Exchange.
He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. “By His stripes you are healed.” (1 Peter 2:24)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes, He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9)
But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes, we are healed. (Is 53:5)
A BORN AGAIN LIFE: He atoned for your sins that you might have MERCY and GRACE.
When we are born again and become New Creations by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior we obtain mercy and grace. Grace is above and beyond mercy. This is because Jesus is an overpayment for your sins because of His immense value. Jesus overpaid it so that we would never have the debt on our conscience again. This is also why the Bible is littered with promises of God that are “how much more” (see my thoughts post on why God over-answers the prayer in our heart.)
Mercy is the punishments you deserve, you don’t get.
Because we habitually break God’s laws we deserve hell.
Hell is a place of perpetual darkness, you cannot see your neighbor, all you hear is screaming. Worms cannot die. Jesus came to save us from this place. Some people teach that there is no such thing as hell or God’s wrath. Some people teach that salvation is for everyone, even to those who care about the Son. No, Grace is the reason why Jesus came and the reason why He died a horrendous, unjust death on the cross. If I say this grace is accessible to everyone without Jesus, it cheapens what He did on the cross.
No, my friends, The Bible says that the Law cannot justify man. The Bible says that “He who has not believed on the Son, the wrath of God is on him.” If you don’t believe in God’s provision, His son, the wrath of God abides on you.
Abides meaning it stays forever.
But God’s imputed righteousness to us (Romans 4:6) is on a solid foundation – His Son’s death.
The death of Jesus Christ, that sacrifice of infinite worth has settled the question of sin forever.
There is a finality. It is done. It is finished.
It doesn’t mean you and I are perfect today, but God sees us righteous.
GRACE is the good things you don’t deserve, you get.
Because of Jesus, all the blessings of the righteous are ours.
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Cor 1:20)
For example in Proverbs, the LORD will guard you from evil. (Proverbs 121:7)
That’s yours now.
It doesn’t mean there will be no negative events, but it will not be “evil”. It’s about overall control. Or rather, your ultimate destiny is not defined or controlled by evil forces. You are not a slave to the devil’s agenda but of God’s. The devil cannot pluck you out of God’s hand. When the devil asked to torment Job (who is a picture of Jesus), the devil had to ask God for permission.
All things, including “evil” schemes, shall work for your good. (Romans 8:28)
The promises of the righteous are now available to you because God sees you as righteous even when we are still imperfect.
Proverbs 11:21 – “Though they join hand in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished; but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.” That’s you. The Bible says you are Abraham’s seed, and will deliver you from evil.
James 5:16 – “The prayer of a righteous man avails much.” That’s you. Your prayers have impact, they are not empty words.
Psalm 34:15 – “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry” That’s you. When you pray, God hears.
Whichever person is born again, if he prays, God hears.
The blessings of the righteous are part of the abundant life that is promised through Jesus.
The Gospel opens the door for abundant life (John 10:10), access into the Kingdom of Heaven that is here now (but will only see the fullness in heaven or at the end of the age) where we can draw God’s supply of mercy and grace; and purpose for our lives.
Isn’t this amazing?
Knowing this deep in my soul helped me a great deal in my own depression and tangible recovery from disease and rejection.
Knowing this, how do we take hold of this Gospel?
The Gospel is a free gift, but It must be taken. God is a gentleman and will never violate your free will. I could offer you a present for Christmas, but unless you reach out and take it from my hand, it will never be of worth to you.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
We have to acknowledge that our flesh (our sin nature) is so totally sinful and bankrupt that we can never save ourselves, we will always be a slave to that nature unless we have a savior. If you think that your flesh is not that bad and that you are not as bad as other people, then you don’t need Jesus. The miraculous power of Jesus is attracted to humility and those who recognize just how depraved they are and need saving.
Then all we have to do is accept the free gift of salvation by faith, and accept Jesus into your heart.
Just pray out and say, “Lord Jesus, come into my heart today. Forgive me for all my past, present and future sins. Be the Lord of my life. I will now be what you make me be. Guide me every day with wisdom, and shape my life into your purpose. Amen.”
Though I added in quite a few details, the many of points of this post come from an excerpt from Joseph Prince’s sermon, When Life Doesn’t Make Sense.
(1) Some pastors fight the grace message and mislabel it as “hyper-grace” because they are afraid people will go into licentiousness, or that there will be teaching you don’t have to give money or tithe. No. People who are made complete in grace will do more of God’s works, they work harder (1 Cor 15:10). They do not keep sinning continuously (1 John 5:18). People supplied by grace are givers, not takers (2 Cor 8,9). They take from God, but they give themselves in service and money to the least of those in the world because it pleases God (John 13:1-17). The keyword is “complete”, of course, when an imperfect person is still being transformed in grace, he is still a work in progress. For example, a student that studies science for the sake of understanding and enjoying it becomes a much more brilliant scientist at the end compared to a student that is studying it for the sake of scoring As in the high school exams. But, the person who is studying for an appreciation of science might be getting Cs and Ds along the way because he is not following the established syllabus, he is usually going ahead of syllabus and thus doesn’t do as well in the exams at present. Similarly, some people who only recently started walking with grace might be rough around the edges, but the final product will be amazing.
If it weren’t for the grace message, I wouldn’t have experienced my physical healing and resurrection in my career. This enabled me to give far more than I ever thought I could give. Along the way, many chided me for not doing the typical church-ianity stuff, and not getting my act together according to their timing.
(2) Under the Old Covenant, there is a law that says that if you had leprosy but it only covered your arms and/or forehead, you would be declared unclean and you would have to be isolated from the camp.
Whereas if you had leprosy all over your body, the priest would declare you clean.
What it symbolizes is this: When you believe that you are a sinner through and through, then God will say to you “No problem, I’m your Savior!”. But if you believe that you are not all that bad, and that your flesh is not so bad, then Jesus cannot be your Savior.