If you met someone and they described themselves as an Evangelical Christian, what would you think of those words? On one hand, these words have been thrown around by so many people for so long, that sometimes it’s hard to know what someone means. No matter how you define them, or someone else defines them, it’s far more important to define them how the Scripture uses them. First, Evangelical is derived from the Greek term euangelion [εὐαγγέλιον], which means “good news” or “gospel”. Christian is derived from the Greek term Christianos. The name “Christian” was first given to followers of Jesus Christ who were being dispersed to many different regions in the Middle East because of persecution (Acts 11:19). So, if you put these terms together, this person is describing themselves as a “Good News Christ Follower”. Or a “Gospel Christian”. They are defining themselves through someone else! Why in the world would they do that? That is a great question and the answer is vital for all humanity. However, to get to the good news, I must tell of some bad news. Without the bad news, one couldn’t rightly say the good news is “good”.
Unfortunately, the bad news started at the beginning of time. The God of the Universe created all things and stated that they were “good” (Gen. 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). He then created man in His own image and gave him responsibility (Gen. 1:26). After some time, the Lord saw that it was “not good” that he was alone (Gen. 2:18). Therefore, God created a woman for the man (Gen. 2:21-22) and the man rejoiced over this gift (Gen. 2:23). Not too long after this time of rejoicing, both the man and woman sin against God (3:1-7). They were told by God what to do (Gen. 1:28; 2:15; 3:2) and what not to do (Gen. 2:17; 3:3, 17). Adam and Eve were rightly obligated to obey their Creator, but they disregarded His word and sinned against Him. Because of their sin, not only were they cursed, but all of the earth was cursed and all mankind after them was cursed (Gen. 3:16-19; 1 Cor. 15:22). As offspring of Adam, all of mankind is born into sin and we prove that to be true through our rebellion against God. Like Adam, we are separated from God and the relationship we ought to have with Him is dead. However, God planted a seed of hope that He would grow over time and bring to fruition. When cursing the serpent, he states “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). Along with this, he also took action to cover Adam and Eve’s shame by clothing their nakedness (Gen. 3:21).
Not one person is able to escape the fact that we are all children of Adam. We also prove our connection by how we continue to fall to our sinful nature. We are born with a nature that naturally desires to do what we want instead of what God has commanded (Gen. 8:21; Jer. 17:9; Matt. 15:18-19; Rom. 3:11-12). From Adam to today, all mankind has come out of their mother desiring to do their own will (Ecc. 7:29; Ps. 51:5). Sin is rejecting God and His law that reflects His character. God, in His loving kindness, has given His law to not only guide us to understand Him, but to expose our own rebellious hearts (Rom. 7:7-12). God’s law is so pure and holy that even one infraction against it is to be held accountable to all of it (Jam. 2:10). God, as judge, requires justice for the sin committed against Him. Even before Adam and Eve fell, they knew God’s judgment would come down on them if they disobeyed (Gen 2: 17). So, from the beginning, the standard has always been death for disobedience. This is why mankind has a limited amount of days and then faces death (Rom. 5:12; Heb. 9:27). Not only does man die, his soul faces his Creator and then is judged for his rebellion (Heb. 9:27; Matt. 25:31-46). The judgment for our rebellion against God is eternal, conscious torment (Matt. 25:46; Rev. 20:11-15). God is perfectly just in judging rebellious sinners. His is our Creator, He has the final say.
These truths are weighty and should cause us to fall on our face before a Holy God. However, even to do that wouldn’t make things right. If that’s the case, how can this sin debt be taken care of? Is there a way we can gain a good standing with God? Sadly, the answer is no. There is no way we can work to make things right (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16, 3:11). However, remember when I stated that the Lord planted a seed of hope that would grow? This hope was promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:7), to the people of Israel (Ex. 12; Lev. 16; Deut. 18:15-19), and to King David (2 Sam. 7:12-17; Ps. 2; 22, 110). It was foretold by the mouths of Prophets (Isaiah 7:14; 9:1-7; 52:13-53:12; Jer. 23:1-6; 14-18; Dan. 2:31-45; 7:13-14; 9:24-27; Micah 5:2-5; Zech. 9:9; 13:7; 14:1-11). What is amazing is that this seed of hope is actually what the entirety of Scripture is pointing to (Jn. 5:39; Lk. 24:25-27). So, what is this hope? More like, who is this hope? In the midst of humanity’s frightful destiny, God, from the beginning, has purposed to send us help. You read that right; God has always had His mind set on making the relationship right.
When all was not good anymore, God sent His Son, “born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Gal. 4:4-5). This is a vital truth to understanding what God is doing through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Son of God put on flesh (Jn. 1:14) and lived amongst us. He was born of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary (Isaiah 7:14; Matt. 1:21-23). This miraculous birth is to show us Scriptures fulfillment and also that Jesus is not born of the sinful line of Adam. Jesus, from birth, was free from sin and not tainted by it (Heb. 4:15). This is vitally important to understand because He came into the world to be the spotless lamb who would be offered up for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53:7; Jn. 1:29; Acts 8:32-35; 1 Pet. 1:19). Jesus Christ, the spotless lamb, came to a world where all are under the penalty of death because of their relation to Adam (Rom. 5:18) and their continued rebellion against God’s revealed will (Rom. 3:23). Out of His great love, Jesus took the penalty of sin in His flesh/body, on the cross (Rom. 8:3; Eph. 2:14; Col. 1:22). Yes, Jesus’ love is so great that He willingly put Himself forward as a substitute for sinful man (Col. 2:14). Jesus was not forced to take this debt on. He willingly gave of Himself for His sheep (Jn. 10:11-18).
Jesus came to this world to die in the place of sinners. Is that the end of the story? Thankfully, no. Because Jesus was a spotless lamb (sinless), death could not rightfully hold Him in the grave (Acts 2:24). As Jesus promised His disciples, He rose from the grave three days later (Jn. 2:18-22; 1 Cor. 15:4). God the Father was fully pleased with Christ’s sacrifice and Jesus walked out of the grave triumphant (Isaiah 53:10; 2 Tim. 1:10). In a world that is scared to death of death and tries to run from and hide from death, there is now a way to truly escape it. We can all agree (if we don’t falsely deny it) that everything we do is because we want to keep on living. We are scared of death because it is the one thing that we can’t control and will all face. However, through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection we can find an escape from the fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15). The entire Christian faith is grounded in the importance of Jesus being alive and not dead. If He is dead, then we would look like the biggest fools to ever walk the planet (1 Cor. 15:17-19). On the contrary, Christ is alive, and He presented Himself to many witnesses (1 Cor. 15:5-8). These witnesses went on to share the good news and Christianity has been spreading across the world ever since.
How amazing is the Lord Jesus? Willingly offering Himself up to rescue undeserving sinners. If Jesus has done all these things, how are we to respond? Jesus stated at the beginning of His earthly ministry to “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15). This same message has been going out since Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 20:21). We are called to turn completely from our sin and trust in Christ Jesus. This is not an option as if we are at the salvation store. The call to repent and believe is a command for all people (Acts 17:30). But let that settle in your mind for a moment. God, who is perfectly holy and retains the right to judge every sinner, has not only sent His Son as a substitute for sinners, He also commands everyone that they should have life instead of death and judgment! Do you get this? Do you see the scandalous grace of God? God is commanding His love be accepted and believed. This really is good news and yet, there are many who will reject this Gospel. There are many who will manipulate this good news for their own selfish gain (Matt. 7:15; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; Titus 1:11; 2 Pet. 2:1-3). If you’re reading this and you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the time is now for you to turn from your sin and trust in Christ. Now is the time of salvation (2 Cor. 6:1-2). There is nowhere else you can run to find the cure for your sin. Jesus, alone, can save you from your sin and bring you life eternal (Acts 4:12). Those who place their trust in Jesus are clothed in His righteousness (Rom. 3:21-26; 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:7-9). God placing clothing over Adam and Eve was only a foreshadow of the righteousness to come that clothes all who believe. All who believe in Jesus are forgiven of sin, and clothed in His righteousness. This is marvelous news!
There is one more important aspect of the gospel that is often left out. Sadly, people end with only the offer of free grace. However, Jesus Himself spoke of counting the cost of being His follower (Lk. 14:27-33). The gospel is good news that understands the fallen sinful world we live in. Christ knows that if we are to follow Him, we will also receive similar treatment that He received (Jn. 13:16). If He was hated (for no reason), we who identify with Him will also be hated (Jn. 15:20). So many throughout history who have proclaimed the gospel to the world have been killed for it. For me to truly follow the fullness of the gospel, I must lay the cost before you. Those who have repented of their sin and have trusted in Christ are now identified with Christ (Gal. 2:20-21). The Scripture tells us that if Christ suffered, then we will suffer (Acts 14:22; Rom. 8:17; 1 Pet. 2:21, 4:1, 5:9). This is something that must be rightly considered. The Lord speaks about how some will profess to be His and when suffering comes, they will not endure, but will “fall away” (Matt. 13:20-21). Those who fall away show themselves to be those who never truly believed in the saving grace of Jesus (1 Jn. 2:19). There will be many who will stand before Jesus on judgment day who think they are His, but He will declare that He “never knew” them and will call them “workers of lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23). I love the Lord too much to hold this hard truth back. I love you (the reader) too much to not tell you the truth. What God calls His people to is not easy, but it is a work that He sovereignty does within His people. He is faithful, he will surely do it (1 Thess. 5:24). Repent and believe the Gospel and you will be saved.
For more reading, here are some helpful books to consider:
- Paul Washer – “The Gospel’s Power and Message”
- Arthur Pink – “A Fourfold Salvation”
- Albert N. Martin – “What is a Biblical Christian”
- Free Christian books and articles