Most of us are taught from the time we are a toddler, if you are good, you will be praised. If you do well in school, you may be rewarded with a scholarship. If you work hard in your career, you will get a raise and may be promoted. Everything we know is based upon our performing, our doing the right things to receive the reward. We carry the same thinking over into our concept of God. We have devised our own God if we think we can be restored to a relationship with Him by trying to be good enough. No one deserves to go to heaven, and no one can be good enough to get there. Many add to this confusion by frontloading or backloading the gospel. For now, let’s make sure we understand the gospel. What is it? The Bible defines it in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: “Moreover brethren I delivered to you the gospel… For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
The truth is that the gospel is simple. Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, died to pay the penalty for our sins. He died in our place. He was our sufficient substitute. They buried Him in a tomb and on the third day He rose from the dead, proving that He has the power over sin and death. After His resurrection, He was seen alive by five hundred people (1 Cor. 15:5-9). Man’s only response to be saved from eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire is to believe in Him. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). The word “believe” in the Bible means to be persuaded of, to put confidence in. Believing is a faith response. It requires that an individual understands his need for a savior. Everyone is guilty. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “All” has serious implications for the human race. Each person is a condemned sinner, helpless to restore one’s relationship with God because He is holy and we are not. “To believe in His name” means to accept the truth about His identity and His history.
My comment (These comments not in the book): Every person has an identity and a history. If I said Mother Theresa, what would you think? …Maybe a saintly woman? How about George Washington? …Our first president. Hitler? …A murderous dictator. How about Margie Beckner? …Who? Well she was a wonderful aunt to me; my dad’s oldest sister. You see everyone has a history and identity. You put your trust in them based on the information you have.
Jesus’ identity is that He is the Son of God and the Son of Man. He is fully God and fully Man (John 1:1; Phil 2:7). He holds all things together by the word of His power (Col. 1:15). His history is that He would be crucified and rise from the dead (Matt. 16:21). His death was payment for the sins of the world (John 1:29). He rose from the dead on the third day proving that He is Lord and Christ [Messiah] (Acts 2:36). He says that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:15). Is Jesus’ identity and history worthy to be trusted? I believe it is. How bout you?