"Our agendas and our stories will not enflame the hearts of men and women to follow hard and live greatly. Similarly, any compromise or capitulation on the uniqueness of the gospel story as the sole means of salvation serves only to dilute the passionate existence we were meant to live. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the grand story of the universe. It alone rightly captures the imagination and fires the soul for greater things. This is the story we must learn, live in, and seek to tell often and well."
- Alvin L. Reid [ref]
God loves you as if you were the only one in the world to love, and he has done everything necessary to enter into a real, personal, lasting relationship with you.
God's inspired, authoritative Word, the Bible, teaches us:
My prayer is that you will take a serious look at where you are in life. If you are living without Christ, you are not really living at all. But even more than that, the Bible teaches us that this life is only a stepping stone to eternity, and that anyone who leaves this life without first having been made right with God through personal, saving faith in Jesus Christ will spend all of eternity in painful separation from him (see Revelation 20:10, 12a, 15). As one source explains: "A summary of all Scripture that speaks of hell indicates that there is the loss and absence of all good, and the misery and torment of an evil conscience. The most terrifying aspect is the complete and deserved separation from God and from all that is pure, holy, and beautiful. In addition there is the awareness of being under the wrath of God and of enduring the curse of a righteous sentence because of one's sins that were consciously and voluntarily committed." [ref]
Bad News / Good News
GOSPEL -- the joyous good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. The Greek word translated as “gospel” means “a reward for bringing good news” or simply “good news.” In Isaiah 40:9, the prophet proclaimed the “good tidings” that God would rescue His people from captivity. In His famous sermon at the synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1 to characterize the spirit of His ministry: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel [good news] to the poor” (Luke 4:18).
The gospel is not a new plan of salvation; it is the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation that was begun in Israel, was completed in Jesus Christ, and is made known by the church.
The gospel is the saving work of God in His Son Jesus Christ and a call to faith in Him (Rom. 1:16–17). Jesus is more than a messenger of the gospel; He is the gospel. The good news of God was present in His life, teaching, and atoning death. Therefore, the gospel is both a historical event and a personal relationship.
Faith is more than intellectual agreement to a theoretical truth. Faith is trust placed in a living person, Jesus Christ. When the apostle Paul warned Christians of the dangers of following “another gospel” (2 Cor. 11:4), he was reminding them that any gospel different than the one he preached was no gospel at all.
In the second century, the word “gospel” came to be used for certain writings in which the “good news” or story of Jesus Christ was told. These writings were written in the first century, but they became known as “gospels” much later. Mark was the first to write such a story (Mark 1:1), and in so doing he invented a literary form that we call a “gospel.” The New Testament has four versions of the one gospel: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
A gospel is more than a biography intended to provide information about a historical character. It is the presentation of the life of Jesus to show His saving significance for all people and to call them to faith in Him.
- R. F. Youngblood et al, editors, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Dictionary
Ben Witherington III reminds us of the true purpose of salvation:
God originally created human beings in his moral image. God created them not only with a capacity for relationship with God, but also with a capacity to reflect the divine moral character on earth and serve as God's representatives, God's witnesses, God's talismans on earth. The image of God was effaced in the fall but not completely erased. God then set out on a restoration and reclamation project called "salvation" so that once more the divine image could be reflected more purely and perfectly on earth in God's greatest creation. The process culminated in the sending of the last Adam, Christ, who perfectly bore the image of God, indeed bore not just the image but the very nature of God, and so became the means of the renewal of that image in human beings through divine action but also through belief, behavior, and more specifically the behavior called imitation -- the imitation of Christ. This imitation, however, is quite impossible unless one knows something about the historical Jesus, his pattern of life, and his words, deeds, and personal nature. And here we must add that salvation is not viewed as an end in itself but rather as a means to an end, the end being a right relationship with God and a life of worshiping God and of loving fellowship with one's fellow human beings.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, then the next step is to start growing and maturing in your Christian walk and witness. The key is to focus on the basic building blocks of the Christian life: prayer, Bible study, and fellowship. Here is a good place to start. It is vital that you find and join a Bible believing church as soon as possible. And you may wish to check out this list of free, excellent informational resources that can prove especially helpful for the new Christian.
Despite what some preachers claim, being a Christian does not automatically entitle us to a life of good health and abundant wealth. In fact, in some ways being a Christian makes life much more difficult. This is because Jesus Christ lived by a set of standards that are very different from the world's -- and he demands that his followers do the same. One Bible commentator expresses it this way:
Our evangelism fails our hearers if we give the impression that becoming a Christian is mainly a way of solving our problems and making life tolerable -- even enjoyable -- for ourselves. Certainly it is about receiving. Salvation by grace through faith makes that abundantly plain. But it is receiving salvation which brings us into the people of God, the body of Christ, the community of the Holy Spirit, whose calling is to serve God through Christ by the Holy Spirit in the world. That is anything but an easy route; it is the way of daily dying and rising with Christ. ... The teaching of Jesus, and the preaching of the early disciples, never offered ‘cheap grace’. Nor ought we.
- Donald English, The Bible Speaks Today: New Testament
You should also be aware that, as a new Christian, at some point you will probably have doubts regarding your salvation. This is actually normal, and there is no reason for alarm. Click here to learn more about assurance of salvation.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
A Century 21 Disciple of Jesus
For Further Study: