We like to summarize. I believe we like it to an unhealthy extent, especially when it comes to the Bible. We like to say, "That's what the Bible is all about," or "Isn't that really the whole Gospel?" We want a bumper sticker to say it all. I believe that if that were possible, God would have given us a bumper sticker, instead of 66 books of Scripture.
So, what is the Gospel message? Is it simply, "Believe?" Is it, "Let go, and let God?" Is it possible to summarize?
Here are some vital aspects of the gospel. Which parts are necessary for people to understand and accept to be saved? Which parts do not need to be understood? Read them all. Tell me what to delete.
· God is holy. He wants holy people. He created Adam and Eve in holiness; to be holy.
· Adam and Eve disobeyed God, bringing sin and death into the world, tarnishing the holiness in which they were created.
· Now, we in ourselves are unholy (worse than “not holy”, we are actively “unholy” - SINFUL)
· Hell was created to punish Satan and the angels who followed him in rebellion before God. The punishment fits the crime. Sin in us has condemned all of us to hell.
· Because of God’s holiness, death has to be paid for my sin. It is the wage my sin has earned.
· Jesus is God’s Son (holy in character and action), and was without sin. The spotless lamb.
· Because of His incredible love and mercy, Jesus' death paid the wage of my sin. No other payment is sufficient replacement for what I owe; Jesus redeemed me by His blood, and there is no other hope for freedom from hell.
· The resurrection of Jesus was the greatest victory. Because He defeated death, we have hope of eternal life, as well! Without this truth, we are to be pitied more than all others.
· When we realize all of these things are true (hear and understand the gospel), and we choose to believe it and receive the forgiveness available through Jesus, based on a desire to change the way we live so as to honor Him and submit to His authority as the author of life (repent), and receive the Holy Spirit through the cleansing work of submitting my life into His hands (as shown through baptism, where I died and He came alive in me); when we do this, we receive a new nature, eternal life, and become citizens of heaven.
· When this has truly happened and you have genuinely believed, you will never be the same, again! You are a new creation, filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit of God, dead to who you were and alive to what you are becoming.
· Now, by faith, we live in obedience to God, by the power of the Holy Spirit. When we blow it, we sincerely ask God for forgiveness, and He faithfully cleanses us. Then we continue in obedience. Our lives are His, and not our own.
· The hope of heaven drives us to daily serve God on earth.