The Gospel is both remarkably simple and elaborately complex. But this is it in a nutshell:
The God of the universe is for You.
And not just you, but he’s for his whole creation! Because of WHO God is—a God of love (1 John 4.8) and justice (Psalm 89.14)—He chose in history to act entirely in accordance with His nature and came to earth to rescue us. But wait, rescue us? From what?
Humankind has chosen from the beginning to be our own god, to set our own rules and to determine our own path. This was and is a rejection of God’s kind and good desires for His most treasured creation. This is “sin” at its fundamental root. The Bible also calls it “idolatry” because we make ourselves gods instead of loving and trusting the True God. Sin hasn’t simply created removed us from relationship with God, it’s brought death to whole creation.
Because God is JUST, He could not simply let his creatures off the hook for their blatant rebellion against him. God—as a just God—demanded payment.
But because God is LOVE, He chose to make the payment Himself rather than extracting it from us! (Romans 5.8) In Jesus Christ, all the penalties and debts of our sin that stood between us and God are fully and totally paid for. Complete forgiveness is ours through the death of Jesus. His death paid for the sins of the world and after dying, He rose from the dead, conquering death. Sin no longer has the final word because Jesus paid for our sins. Death no longer has the final word because Jesus triumphed over the grave. God has not simply removed a penalty from us. He has begun to undo the curse of death that everything and everyone is under. One day the dead will rise, the earth and heavens will be renewed, and God will live forever in the midst of his people on the earth.
But there’s more. The Bible says that now God sees us as though WE had paid for our sins – as though we were Jesus! (Galatians 2.20). That means that God does not welcome us as pardoned criminals, but as a conquering heroes! God treated His Son as though His Son had lived our lives. So that He could treat us as though we had lived His Son’s life! The Bible says that this is true salvation—being brought into the family of God as His children, being given the Holy Spirit who lives within us enabling us to have the intimate and personal relationship with God we were created for. Salvation is not simply an event in time with a payoff later; it is a full actualization of who we were made to be—a son or daughter of God, living and reigning with Him forever! And to receive this salvation, the only “work” required is faith (John 6.29)—faith that Jesus, not ourselves, is what makes us acceptable to God.
Every one of us could, at some point, look in a mirror and say, “I cannot please God.” Many of us have been led to take the next step, and say, “I can’t, but Christ did for me.” If you believe that with your heart, then you are a child of God. There is an endless fountain of hope and joy that flow out six little words:
We can’t. Jesus did. Believe Him.