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The Gospel

The Gospel

What is the Gospel?

There is a wonderful book, which contains everything we need to know to live our lives the way our Creator intended (II Timothy 3:16,17). There are countless truths to live by found in this book, God’s message to mankind, but if we were to boil everything down to its most basic message, this book, the Bible, makes three things clear…

First, the Bible says that mankind has a problem, and that problem is called sin. Sin is any action or attitude that falls short of God’s perfect standard. Every one of us has the problem of sin (Romans 3:23). And the Bible teaches us that there is a consequence to sin – sin separates us from a holy God (Habakuk 1:13). In fact, the Bible tells us that end result of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and that there is nothing that we ourselves can do to solve the problem of sin.

Second, the Bible says that there is a solution to the problem of sin, and that solution is the person of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). The Bible tells us that God loved us so much that he sent Jesus, His only Son, to die in our place (John 3:16).  Jesus paid the penalty of your sin so that you would not have to be forever separated from God (1 John 4:10). The Bible also tells us that Jesus is the only solution for our sin problem (John 14:6).

Third, the Bible demands a decision. It is not enough to just know about Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for you. You must choose to put your trust in Christ, to receive this free gift of salvation that God offers (John 1:12).

All of us have the problem of sin. There is only one solution to the problem – the person of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for us. Every one of us must decide…

WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH JESUS CHRIST?

You must make a decision. What are your options? There are only three possible answers to this question:

1.        To say yes, to accept God’s free gift of salvation by putting your trust in Jesus Christ.

2.        To say no, to reject God’s offer of salvation. The Bible says that those who make this choice will spend eternity separated from God in a place called Hell.

3.        To say maybe, to try to put off the decision to a more convenient time. The Bible does say that God is patient, wanting everyone to come to the point of accepting His gift of salvation (II Peter 3:9). But none of us is promised that we will be here tomorrow, and because of this “x-factor” of death, trying to put off our decision by saying maybe automatically puts us in the “no” category.

So, in reality, there are only two answers to the question, “What will you do with Jesus Christ?” To accept His free gift of salvation or to reject that gift.

Let me ask you, “What have you done with Jesus Christ?” If you have never accepted God’s offer of eternal life, I can think of no better time than right now (2 Corinthians 6:2). If you would like to say yes to Christ, you can do it right now, wherever you are, whatever you are doing.

The invitation is open – you can accept the gift of salvation and get rid of the sin in your life. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or what you’ve done. The offer is open to everyone.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BEGIN A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST RIGHT NOW, RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE, YOU NEED ONLY ASK HIM…

If you’ve come this far, you probably realize you’re about to make the most important decision of your life.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) He also said, “whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37)

So if you ask Him, you will be accepted.

The way believers talk to the Lord is through prayer. Your prayer should be your own, from your own heart to His. If you’re not in the habit of praying, though, you may need an example.

An example of such a prayer may go something like this:

Father in Heaven,
I know that I am a sinner and need forgiveness.  I believe that Your Son Jesus died in my place, to pay the penalty for my sin, and rose again for my salvation.
I want to turn from my sinful ways, so I now ask you, Lord Jesus, to come into my life as my Savior and my Lord.
In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21)  So if you have asked Him into your life, and believe He died to save you, you are a Christian, bound for Heaven.

The difficulties of living as a Christian in a sinful world are many. Therefore it is essential that you immediately seek other sincere, Bible-believing Christians to help you sustain your resolve. Both individual Christian friends and a solidly Bible-based Christian church are essential.

If you have taken this all-important step,

You have made an exciting decision to say yes to God’s offer of eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.

This is the beginning of a new life for you, a lifelong adventure of getting to know God and an eternity of living and growing in Him.

Just as there are several keys to living a healthy physical life, there are some basics to a healthy spiritual life. In order to be healthy physically, you must master the basics of eating, breathing, exercising, resting and reproducing.

Let me use these five areas to explain some important truths about your new spiritual life…

Eat

Breathe

Exercise

Rest

Propagate

EAT…

One of the most basic principles of physical life is the importance of food. If we don’t take in nourishment, if we don’t eat, we will quickly grow weak. The same thing is true in your spiritual life. If you do not take in spiritual nourishment, your new life in Christ will be weak and ineffective.

Spiritual food is the truth of God’s Word, the Bible. We “eat” spiritually when we take in what God has given us in the Bible. There are several ways that we can take in God’s Word. Obviously being in a good church where you can hear solid preaching and teaching is one of the most important things that you can do as a new Christian. I cannot overemphasize how important it is to become involved in a church like this.

There are also good Christian books and tapes that can help you to learn how God wants you to live your life, but by far the most important thing that you can do to grow as a new Christian is to read the Bible for yourself. God has given us His Word, the Bible, to teach us the principles that He wants us to know and to guide us in this new life as a Christian.

Let me give you some simple things to help you in this important area of your new life.

Choose a Bible translation that you can understand
The Bible was originally written in several different languages, most notably Hebrew and Greek. Therefore any Bible in English is a translation from the original. One of the first translations of the Bible into English was the King James Version (originally translated in 1611). This is still an excellent translation, and the one that was used in most churches almost exclusively until recent years. Although there may be some words in this translation that are not used currently and therefore a little hard to understand for some people, many find it hard to beat the “classical beauty” of this translation.

In recent years, there have been several excellent new translations of the Bible that have expressed the unchanging truths of God’s Word in language that is easier to understand today. Two of the best of these new translations are the New International Version and the New American Standard Version.

If you are not sure what translation of the Bible is best for you, talk to a pastor of a church (hopefully yours!) or visit a local Christian bookstore. Either one will be more than happy to help you make the choice that is right for you.

Read the Bible on a daily basis
Just as it is important to eat regular meals for your physical health, it is important to have a consistent intake of the truth of God’s Word. Some people think that as long as they go to church on Sundays, they will be healthy spiritually. But imagine how weak you would become if you only ate one meal per week.

Set aside some time every day to read the Bible. You don’t need to read for hours or read whole books of the Bible every day. I would suggest that you begin by making a commitment to 15 minutes per day.

Take the first minute to pray, asking God to quiet your heart and to speak to you through what you are going to read.

Then take the next 10 minutes to read a passage from God’s Word. Here are some helps to know what and how much to read:

Choose a book of the Bible to read through. Some people try to bounce all over the Bible and read from a different place every day, but that makes it very hard to understand the “flow” of what a book is all about.

I would suggest that you begin with the book of John (the fourth book in the New Testament). This book is called a gospel because it is the story of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. After you finish reading John, go to a book like Ephesians or Colossians, both of which contain very practical teaching about principles of the Christian life.

Read a “manageable” passage. There is so much to be learned from God’s Word that we can miss a lot if we try to read too much at one time. Some people try to read a chapter of the Bible each day, but as a new Christian, that is probably too much.

Do you remember the definition of a paragraph from your days in school? A paragraph is a group of sentences that express one main point. I would suggest that you read one or two paragraphs each day (maybe a little bit more if there are several one-sentence paragraphs).

Try to find the main point of what you read. Ask yourself some questions about what you are reading. What is the most important truth in the passage? Is there a command that you need to obey? A promise that you can claim in your life? It is very important that you think about what you read.

Take two minutes to write down what you learn. If we want to remember something for longer than just a few hours, it is a big, big help to write it down. Keep a notebook with your Bible and write down the date, the passage that you read and what you learned from the passage.

Take the last two minutes to pray. Spend the first minute praying about what God just taught you from His Word. Then spend the last minute praying about any requests you may have for God (see the section on prayer for helps on what you can pray about). It would be a great idea to use several pages from that notebook that you are keeping with your Bible to write down some of the things that you are praying about (and how God answers those prayers).

Tell someone about what you learn
One of the most important ways really understand what God is teaching us is to talk it over with someone else. Find someone in your family, or someone in your church, that you can share the exciting things that are going on in your life.

BREATHE…

One of the most natural processes in our physical life is that of breathing. We don’t have to stop and think about breathing, we just do it. Can you imagine what life would be like if we had to remind ourselves to breathe? Instead, without conscious effort, 15 times a minute, 900 times an hour, 21,600 times a day, we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.

Prayer for the Christian should be just as natural as breathing. We have a tendency to think of prayer as being a “command performance.” We think we have to come up with just the right words and phrases to talk to God.

In reality, God wants us to share with Him whatever is on our hearts and minds. Scripture says that God already knows what our needs are before we even ask Him. What He wants is to hear from us. Tell Him your fears and your hopes … ask for His help in your daily life … thank Him for what He has been doing in your life. Make it your habit to talk to God.

EXERCISE…

Physical exercise is vital to our health as human beings. If we continually take in fuel (food) without burning it, we will become flabby and sluggish and eventually suffer all kinds of health problems.

The same principle applies to our spiritual lives. You may be very good at taking spiritual food into your life by reading God’s Word or going to church, but if you do not do anything with that food, you will not remain healthy very long.

We understand the idea of physical exercise, but how do you exercise spiritually? Quite simply by doing something with the spiritual truths you are taking into your life from God’s Word: obeying God’s commands, applying His principles in your life, choosing to do what God shows you from the Bible.

God’s formula for growth in the Christian life is really very simple. He shows us a truth from His Word. We make a choice to obey and God accomplishes His purpose in our lives. Then He shows us something else from His Word, and we go through the process all over again

It is God’s responsibility to give the growth, to accomplish His purpose in our lives. Our part is to learn from the Bible and to choose to obey. All too often we think that it is enough to know what the Bible has to say. God wants us to do what the Bible has to say.

REST…

There comes a time every day in our physical lives in which we must rest. We may all require different amounts of rest in order to stay healthy, but there is no question that we all need rest.

Again, we understand what rest is in the physical realm. It is taking a few minutes in the easy chair after we finish mowing the lawn, it’s getting the proper amount of sleep at night in order to be at our best the next day. But what is rest in the spiritual realm?

For the Christian, rest is the encouragement of being with other believers. There is significant energy outflow that goes with living the Christian life, especially when we are trying to live that life by ourselves (without the help of other Christians). We need to have a way to “recharge our batteries.”

God has designed that into the Christian life in the form of fellowship, of being with other Christians. The Christian life was never designed to be lived in isolation but in the context of community with other believers. Scripture says that we are to “love one another,” “pray for one another,” “bear one another’s burdens.”

That’s why it is so important for you as a new Christian to seek out other Christians that you can spend time with and learn from. Find a good church in your local area that teaches the Scriptures and gives you an opportunity to worship with fellow believers. Seek out a brother or sister in Christ that you can share with and pray with. Don’t try to live this new life in Christ all by yourself!

PROPAGATE…

Just as in the physical life the continued existence of the human race depends on reproduction, as one generation produces the following generation, so the growth of the body of Christ depends on our ability as Christians to reproduce our new life in others.

We have a responsibility, given to us by God, to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who have not yet responded to His invitation to eternal life. Notice that I did not say that we have the responsibility to lead other people to Christ. Our responsibility is to share the gospel. It is God who works in people’s lives to bring them to faith.

In order to adequately share this marvelous good news, we must first be sure that we understand it ourselves. Then find a way that is natural and comfortable for you to share with others. Some people say to use what they call the “Roman Road” (a series of verses from the Book of Romans that encapsulate the gospel message).

There are many good ways to share the gospel. What is most important is that we take advantage of opportunities to share. There is nothing more exciting than to see God at work in bringing someone to Himself.

Thank you for letting us share some of the beginning principles that you need for your new life in Christ.

Remember, it is not enough just to know what is right to do… we have to do it.

We don’t do what is right to get “brownie points”, nor to gain our salvation; our salvation is assured by what Christ did for us. We do what is right because it is right, and to honor Him.

You have many exciting days in front of you in your walk with the Lord. Have a great life in Christ!