I had a brief conversation with a friend one day about the gospel. Jack professed to be a Christian but there was no evidence of this in his speech, actions or life. When I started asking him about his faith, he said, “Hey! You don’t have to worry about me. I agree with God; I did this thing years ago.
This “thing” he was referring to was a once-in-a-lifetime event when someone convinced him to repeat a prayer and accept Jesus into his heart.
And ever since that event, he had no interest in hearing the gospel. He believed he was a good person and, since he had done “that thing”, he was certain that he agreed with God. Jack died shortly thereafter.
The question each of us should ask is: what part did I have in my salvation? What have I done to deserve forgiveness and eternal life? What good have I done for God to show me his favor?
For those of us who are saved, the answer to all of these questions is “nothing”. We were depraved. We were helpless. We were spiritually DEAD and none of us could do anything to please God or earn His favor.
The good news of the gospel is NOT that “God loves you”. It is NOT that “He has a wonderful plan for your life.” It is NOT that he “stands up and knocks on the door of your heart” hoping you can invite him in.
So what is the gospel? In summary, it starts with the bad news; we are all born sinners worthy of God’s judgment and wrath, and there is nothing we can do to erase our sin or buy our forgiveness. We need a Saviour. We need a Redeemer.
The good news is that Jesus is the only substitute in all aspects of a believer’s salvation. He lived a life of perfect, sinless obedience to his Father, and he did it for us. He died a horrible death on the cross and endured his Father’s wrath, for us. He was victorious over sin and death for us. Our only right answer, then, is to turn from our sin and trust Him for our salvation.
AND CAN IT BE? Was written by Charles Wesley and is one of our greatest gospel hymns. It begins with a series of introspective questions: Does the blood of Jesus concern me? Am I the cause of his pain? Did I cause his death? And then, as if the lights suddenly come on, the songwriter asks, “What is this amazing love? How come You, my God, die for ME?
The whole plan of redemption was decreed by God, the Father, even before we were created. It was provided by the Son of God, who is our Substitute, while we were still dead in sin.
And verse two tells us that Jesus, in an act of mercy and grace, left the glory that was his and humbled himself to become a man. And He suffered a horrible death for the sins of His people.
Verse three describes our miserable and helpless condition; we were bound in sin and hopeless spiritual darkness until God intervened. He broke the chains that imprisoned our souls, he shed his light in our hearts and he saved us from the punishment of sin and death.
Finally, verse four is the glorious Good News; There is now no condemnation for those who believe. Jesus paid the penalty for those who are redeemed. The justice of God is satisfied. He imputed the righteousness of his Son to us, and he gave us new life. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8)
This hymn should humble us when we realize that there is nothing we have done or can do to deserve God’s incredible love, forgiveness and salvation. “(This) is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
The song doesn’t do much for our ego, but it does magnify and glorify our Savior.
Incredible love! How can You, my God, die for me?
Ralph M. Petersen and his wife, Kathy, are the owners of the OLDE TOWNE EMPORIUM at 212 E. Main St. in Rogersville. Comments are welcome. You can contact him at [email protected] or by phone at (951) 321 9235.