If you have found your way to this page ... well done! For what I am about to tell you is the best news you will ever receive. It really is "good news": for that is what the word "Gospel" means.
Am I being truthful in saying that it is the best news you will ever receive? - I certainly am!!
Hearing that you've been promoted at work or got a new job, won the lottery or won the right to be the first tourist in space may seem great news to receive, and I'm sure they are, but what I have to tell you makes all these things pale into insignificance. What I have to tell you is a matter of life and death.
Many people have cheated death: I was only reading in the newspaper this morning of a German Paraglider who became unconscious when she was driven to a height of 9,000 metres during a storm. She thought she was going to die because there was no oxygen at these heights and she was surrounded by hail and lightning. But she survived. She lived to tell the tale. That was certainly good news for her. But although she escaped with her life on this occasion, one day she will certainly die. Death is the one certainty we all face in life. That's what makes the Gospel not only good news, but really great news. The Gospel doesn't only promise us a temporary escape from death - it promises eternal life, a life without end. A life that we will live not on this troubled earth but in the harmony of the heavenly paradise. Now that's Good News!!
So what is the Gospel of which I talk?
In essence it is quite simple. I will try and break it down into easy elements for you on this page.
The Existence of God
"In the beginning God ..."
The first sentence in the Bible confronts us immediately with the million dollar question about life on this earth: does God exist? The Bible's answer is an unambiguous "yes". It is God who created the heavens and the earth and everything we have in our Universe.
It is such a fundamental question because it establishes our purpose for being here: If there is a God who made us then we are in this world because He wanted us to be here. This gives a meaning to our lives because we are living according to His purpose. All created things have their purpose from the person who created them. Think about a pen, for example. It's purpose is to write. The person who made it created it for that purpose. The pen cannot think to itself "I'm going to be a car today". No, its purpose is to do what it's maker intended it to do.
If there isn't a God then life really is meaningless because there is no purpose to it. With no God there is no creator and no-one to have given us that purpose.
One of the amazing things about God is that He wishes to interact with us (and, even more so, wishes that we interact with Him). He hasn't just created us and left us with no means of knowing of His existence. He has chosen to reveal Himself to us: Not only do we see Him revealed through his created world which is all around us, but He has aslo chosen to communicate with us. He has done this through the Bible and, most perfectly, through His own Son, Jesus.
The evidence for our creator's existence is therefore available to us all and none of us have any excuse for living as though He doesn't exist.
The Character of God
"... his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he."
Through the Bible and the life of Jesus we are made aware of the character of God. We are told that He is a holy, just, loving and merciful God.
It is important to realise that God has all these attributes, not just one or two of them. It is quite common, for instance, to think that God is simply a loving God who will forgive all our misdemeanours without question. Looking at this deeper though reveals the fallacy of such a conception. Imagine that you were the mother or father of a young son or daughter, and someone came along and murdered them. Imagine that in Court the judge said to the murderer "I'm a loving judge, so I'm going to let you go free". You wouldn't be particularly pleased!! Has the judge really acted as a loving judge? Towards the murderer certainly, but I don't think it can be said that he has shown love to the family of the victim. Justice has not been done. It's too simplistic to talk only of love and mercy, justice must walk hand in hand too. Our perfect God is a god of love, mercy and justice in perfect measure.
The Problem - Man's Condition
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"
If we are to live in the presence of God, then we, like God, must be perfect. Anything less is insufficient because perfection cannot live with imperfection. The Bible uses the illustration of light. Light and dark cannot mix. There is no darkness where there is light, and if there is no light, there is nothing but darkness. Likewise, it is impossible to talk of perfection where there is imperfection.
And that is just where we meet the major problem...we are not perfect! You've got to admit that, surely!! Have you never lied? Have you never been envious? Have you never ever thought ill of anyone? Of course you have!! We all have.
The Bible portrays us just as we really are ... sinners; people who have acted, and who continue to act, in a less than perfect manner.
And that's why there is a problem: If we are imperfect, we cannot dwell, or even enter into the presence of, a perfect God.
Many people think that living a "good" life will entitle us to inherit a place in heaven when we die. But what is "good"? We might be "good" compared to another person on the street, but that's not the standard we have to achieve. The standard is God's standard. The standard is perfection. We can never be "good" enough.
The Consequences of Sin
"For the wages of sin is death"
To sin means that we have not acted in accordance with God's perfect standards. To look at it another way, we have broken God's Law. Now if we break the laws of the land, we are brought before the court and are sentenced. The sentence we receive will bear a relationship to the seriousness of the crime we have committed. The worse the crime, the worse the punishment.
We tend to treat sin very lightly, but the reality is that we have done something far worse than break the law of the land...we have broken the law of Almighty God. God is infinite in power, ruling the infinite kingdom of time. To break the law of such an infinite being demands an infinite punishment ... and the Bible tells us that this is indeed the consequence of sin - the wages of sin is death: Do you realise that? The reason why our bodies ultimately wither and die is the sin that lies within us! But it's worse than that: we don't just die at the end of our life here on this earth, we face the judgment of a perfect God in the life to come and face the loss of our eternal life with him, exchanging that for eternal punishment.
"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us"
Now we get to the news you've been waiting for. This is the news that should thrill you like no other. The news is that there is a solution to the problem I've described. The even better news is that I can tell you that solution!!
And what is even more amazing is that it is God who has provided that solution. That really is amazing: God is the person who we have sinned against and yet he is the very one who saves us from the consequences. We deserve death and yet he gives us life ... what could be better than that! I'll tell you what - he saves us even while we are still sinning against him ... now that really is perfect mercy!!
I can give you the solution in one word: Jesus.
Why Jesus? Because Jesus is God's own Son.
No man could ever live a perfect life, never sinning. Only a man who was also God could do that. Jesus is that man. Jesus is God. Jesus lived for us the life we could never live.
Of course, Jesus not only lived for us, he died for us. As we have seen, only an infinite punishment could ever pay for our sins against an infinite God. Jesus, being God himself, paid that infinite punishment by dying on the cross.
Think about that ... what great news that is! We have broken God's law and deserve death but Jesus steps in and takes our place and dies for us. Wow! Now that's what I call good news! God gets justice and we get mercy in perfect measure.
"... if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord", and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
So, you know the problem and you know the solution. All you need to do now is to apply the solution to the problem to give you the result - eternal life. God offers us this fabulous gift. All you have to do is claim it as yours. That is all God asks of us: If you want to be saved, you have to put your faith in your saviour. Imagine you are in a sinking ship. The sinking ship has lots of life boats. You know the problem - the ship is sinking. And you know the solution - the life boats. But you are only going to be saved if you have faith in the life boat and clamber aboard. That's what God wants you to do right now ... clamber aboard: believe in Jesus and what he has done for you, trust in Him and Him alone to save you.
If you believe in Jesus as your Saviour then God's promise is that your sinful nature will be covered by the robe of Christ's righteousness and you will live in the presence of God forever.
That's the Gospel - in a nutshell!