John Piper defines the gospel as follows:
The Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over all his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only everlasting joy.
There is nothing in the world more important than the gospel and nothing more critical for us to understand. Apart from the gospel there’s no reason to live. Apart from the gospel everything we do in life is temporary. If there isn’t a gospel, or if there is a gospel but we don’t incorporate it into our life, then lasting satisfaction in this world will prove impossible to find, and tragedy in the next will be assured. We live on this earth for a very short time – it makes no sense to waste that time running away from the One who created us.
The Facts of the Gospel
• God created a perfect world to glorify Himself. He created everything – earth, sun, moon, stars, galaxies, all living beings – and created them perfectly. He created two perfect humans – one male and one female – and placed them in a perfect environment on earth. The humans existed only because of Him, and the environment the humans lived in existed only because of Him. Thus He had complete authority over the man and woman and commanded them to obey Him and worship Him in the world He created to glorify Himself.
Genesis 1 :1, 1:27, 1:31, 2:15-17, Colossians 1:16, Revelation 4:11
• God loved the man and woman and gave them dominion over everything He created. He gave them authority over all other living beings and over all the earth. In all of creation they were subject only to Him. And He gave them access to Him; He communed with them in His creation. But though the first man and woman lived in a perfect world created to perfectly suit them, and though they had dominion over all creation, they chose to disobey God. They disobeyed because they wanted to be like God. They didn’t like that they were under God’s authority. They didn’t like that though they had authority over all things other than God, they were still under Him. Thus they broke God’s command. But in so doing they did more than break a rule; they rebelled. They rejected the whole purpose of their existence and committed treason against the Lord of all creation.
Genesis 1:26, 3:8a, 3:4-6, Romans 1:20-21
• God’s image-bearers sinned, and once they sinned, every human born thereafter was born in sin (two imperfects can’t produce a perfect). Every person is born a sinner before he does anything in his life. And there is absolutely nothing man can do to remedy this. Since he is born in sin, his very nature is enslaved to it and made up of it. He can’t escape sin because sin is what he IS.
Romans 5:12, 3:23, 3:10-12, 8:6-8, John 8:34, Titus 3:3
• God is perfect and holy – He cannot allow any sin in His presence. And since that’s the case, no man can walk with God or spend eternity with God if he’s sinful. There’s no such thing as sin in heaven or on the new earth God will create after this world is gone.
Exodus 33:18-20, Isaiah 6:1-5, Revelation 21:1-2, 21:27
• God is also just. And since He’s just, He requires that all sin in the world be punished. He can’t simply overlook it. To overlook sin is to be unjust. In the same way it would be wrong for a judge to overlook crime, it would be unjust for God to allow sin without consequence. Thus there is no way for sin to exist without punishment, and the ultimate punishment for sin is death. Nothing short of death punishes sin because no sin can be with God, and separation from God is death. So all life that includes sin has to be eternally separated from God in eternal death. Sinful man has to die for his sins – there’s no other way if God is just.
Psalm 89:14, Ecclesiastes 12:14, Romans 6:23
• God on His own, however, decided to provide a way for man to be with Him. Since man can’t do anything about his sinfulness – and thus can’t come into God’s presence – God decided to solve the problem for him. Man was totally helpless to change his sinful state because he’s BORN a sinner, so only God could solve his problem.
• God’s solution had to provide a way for sin to be punished without eternally destroying all people. He could destroy all mankind and thus punish sin – which would satisfy His justice – but in His love He wanted a way for man to dwell with Him. He had to punish sin and save man – and in so doing bring the most glory possible to Himself.
• God’s solution was to become a man – He came as the Son of God – named Jesus. Jesus is God who also became man. He was/is both. He’s fully human and fully God. He was the perfect man. He never sinned and He wasn’t born in sin because He was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit (she gave birth while still a virgin). Thus as a perfect man He didn’t have to die for his own sin.
Luke 1:34-35, John 1:1, 1:14, Colossians 1:15, I John 3:5
• God took all the sin in the world – all the sin ever committed by any believer at any time, past, present, future – and put it on Jesus. Your sin, my sin, Adam’s sin, EVERY believer’s sin – was laid on Jesus. Then God put Jesus to death on the cross. Jesus died physically and spiritually. He was separated from the Father and went to the grave. He died as a man to bear the punishment for man’s sin. He didn’t die for HIS sin. He died for every other human’s sin. [Something that no other human could do. Since all have sinned and deserve punishment, no one can die for another. We all deserve death for our own sins; thus we have nothing to offer anyone else.]
Isaiah 53:6, Romans 5:8, John 15:13, Matthew 27:45-46
• God raised Jesus from the dead after three days. Jesus’ resurrection showed that His death was sufficient to pay the price for every sin. Nothing else needed to happen for God’s justice to be satisfied. The resurrection also showed that death is no longer the only outcome for man.
I Corinthians 15:3-5, 20-22, 54-55, Ephesians 1:19-21,
• God graciously offers the benefit of Jesus’ death and resurrection to all who will accept it. Anyone who cries out to God and acknowledges that he’s a sinner who cannot approach God on his own, will receive the gift. God credits Jesus’ punishment and righteousness to his account and thus enables him to justifiably enter God’s presence as God’s adopted child.
Romans 10:9, 10:11, 10:13, John 1:12, 3:16, Romans 8:15
• God legally justifies all who believe in His Son. That means that Christians stand before Him – the Judge of the world – completely righteous because they have Christ’s righteousness credited to them. They don’t have to stand before God and justify themselves based on their own works. They stand before God justified by Christ’s righteousness. Their actions play no part in their justification. [It is crucial to understand this point – the one who puts his faith in Christ understands that his salvation depends TOTALLY on Jesus and NOT AT ALL on himself. NO ONE comes to God except through the work of Jesus. If anyone thinks he has anything to do with his own salvation then his faith ultimately is in himself and he’s damned. To believe in Jesus and accept His gift is to understand and acknowledge that only through Him can we come to God and in so doing we hand over to Him all authority for our lives – just as God intended when He created us.]
Romans 4:7-8, 5:18, 8:1, 8:31-34, Acts 13:38-39, Ephesians 2:4-9, John 14:6
• God’s children are therefore free from His wrath against sin. They live without fear of eternal separation from God. They still live in a world corrupted by sin, but they live with God’s Spirit guiding them and protecting them, and the knowledge that they will live forever with Him. The corruption of the first sin no longer rules them. They live under God’s love rather than under threat of damnation.
Romans 5:1, I Thessalonians 5:9-10
• God’s children don’t just escape damnation, however. They also live with Him in a loving relationship in this life. When they believe, God changes from Judge to Father. The eternal, omnipotent Creator of the universe becomes their heavenly Father with whom they walk in daily communion. He no longer holds their sins against them or responds in wrath to their actions because their sins have been punished in Christ. Instead, He lovingly guides, strengthens, disciplines, listens to and responds to His children continually and perpetually. He enters into a personal relationship with them the same as any good father does with his child. But this Father is perfect and all-powerful and created and controls the universe. Ultimately, God restores the relationship that was broken when the first humans sinned. He is a personal God who intended at creation to have a personal relationship with the beings He created in His own image, and through the gospel He now can.
Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:38-39, Hebrews 12:7
• God’s wrath does remain against the sin of those who don’t believe. Those who don’t accept His gift of salvation will face Him without Christ’s righteousness credited to their account. They will have to justify themselves based only on their actions. And since no man can escape his sinful nature, they will face the full punishment for their sins. They will be eternally separated from God in hell. The Bible describes this as a place of eternal torment with no hope of release.
• God’s children – as a result of the gospel – strive to live righteously in His presence. They don’t live this way to attain salvation; that’s already theirs by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. But they live holy lives out of love for Jesus because of the sacrifice He made. They love God for what He did for them and they work to live as He commands. AND, if they’re truly sons and daughters of God, they no longer love sin and aren’t slaves to it. However, the gospel changes my view of God’s commandments, in that it helps me to see the heart of the Person from whom those commandments come. When I begin my train of thought with the gospel, I realize that if God loved me enough to sacrifice his Son’s life for me, then He must be guided by that same love when He speaks His commandments to me. Viewing God’s commands and prohibitions in this light, I can see them for what they really are: friendly signposts from a heavenly Father who is seeking to love me though each directive, so that I might experience His very fullness forever. (Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians; 18.)
Romans 6:5-7, Colossians 2:6-7, 2:13-14, I Peter 2:24
• God’s children are never alone in this world and never face the difficulties of life without His loving presence. They also have the assurance that they never suffer in vain when the hard times come. God is always with them and always brings about what is ultimately best for them.
Matthew 28:20b, Romans 8:28-29, James 1:2-4
• God’s children live with the ultimate trump card – eternity. Through every trial, through every discouraging way of the world, through an ever-growing hostility toward the things and people of God, the believer walks with the hope and assurance of eternal life with God. Everything and everyone may fail him in this life, but he knows that his true home awaits him. He KNOWS this. He doesn’t have to wonder what awaits him after death and doesn’t have to hope that he stacks up OK against others. He will stand in judgment with Christ’s righteous record to justify his entrance into God’s paradise. So he has the reality of fellowship with God today and the hope of eternity in God’s presence tomorrow. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside!
Romans 8:18, I John 5:13, Matthew 25:34, Revelation 21:3-4, 22:1-5
Romans 11:33-36 – Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.