I thought to myself, if I was going to try to sit down and explain the Gospel to someone, what would I say?
And so, I thought here I might try to do that in as simple and straightforward terms as best I could, hopefully with God’s help, trying to give context to biblical or commonly-used phrases, especially to someone who might not have any knowledge or familiarity with the Bible, and trying to go through it all step by step and paint the picture of the reality of the situation.
I pray maybe God will use it in some way as a means to the glory of His name in the bringing someone home to Him.
We’ll start with the premise that there is a God, and there is only one (which, actually, there can only be by definition, for God to be God). The Bible says the heavens declare His glory, and it also says that we are responsible for seeing Him in the creation around us.
By definition, God must be infinite in everything He is — infinitely powerful, infinitely holy and pure, etc.
Also, it seems to me we can look around at His creation and realize He is good, and gracious, in having sunshine, water, food for us, etc.
And, everything is completely ordered — the sun always comes up, the years always pass the same way, etc.
Now, God created all the creatures as well. We see in the animals and insects, and how they behave, and they have programmed in an instinct that drives them in those behaviors. Bees do bee things (very amazing things too if you study them!), goats do goat things, cows cow things, etc.
Now, when God created man, He did a little something different — He created mankind to also have rational thought (things like the ability to wonder or ask why), and most importantly, to have fellowship with the Creator, and even understand that! The animals don’t have that. He also stamped on the first people His image of goodness, and love, and holiness, and the like — similar in nature although not in quantity (His is infinite and ours finite). Man had a sort of his own “instinct” to love God, and be and do good, and to choose these things.
Now, with God being infinitely majestic, and the creator of man, He also has a right over His creation. If you create a vase, you have right to it as to how to create it and what it’s used for, because you made it. Well, God has that right and is thus authority over man, and all creation.
Now, an authority requires fidelity to them. And how is fidelity shown, even in our versions of authority, with kings and the like? The king sets rules, and his subjects follow the rules. And breaking a rule of the king or any authority requires a penalty. We see that in our own justice system.
So, God set a rule for the first people to follow. And it was a relatively easy one — it was a “don’t do” something. All that had to be done was do nothing, which is theoretically easier than performing some action. And it could have been an action like “run a mile in 10 seconds”, which would have been impossible for man to keep, so His rule was very fair.
But, the first people didn’t keep the rule. And so God became the offended party in the relationship with man. And this offense must be an infinite one because it was against an infinite Being. And there were some extraordinarily bad results.
Man incurred the guilt of breaking the rule and incurred the penalty, and also became dirty and diseased in his being, the Bible likening it to leprosy.
And there was a complete breach in the relationship between God and man. Because man was now not holy any more, and now filthy, God, who is perfectly holy, could no longer have man in His presence.
And because the offense was infinite, the penalty must be an infinite one as well, and so it was a just sentence (ie. it served justice) that an eternal punishment sentence was placed on man.
And man lost that stamp of God’s image on him, God’s love and goodness, etc. was now dead and gone. With that God-imaged instinct of love and goodness gone, and man having acted in rebellion, man now has an “instinct” that is only to choose to *not* follow God’s rules, which is also called sin. Now, man as a sinner does what sinners do — they sin, like the bee does bee things, and the goat goat things. They are by nature constantly in rebellion to God, the Bible even saying at enmity (actively opposed and even hostile) with God. And, all people are now born only with this instinct, and that is passed on from generation to generation.
And because of that, and because the offense was infinite, there’s no way for man to pay the penalty, because he is finite.
Man now when born faces an eternal punishment and eternal separation from his loving Creator.
However, it doesn’t end there. God in His mercy has provided a remedy, which has to provide for several things: forgiveness for all of the sin, a cleansing from the disease and dirtiness of sin, and a pure holiness restored to a person. Only if these are done, can God be in relationship with anyone again.
But how can this be done, if man cannot do it? Well, the plan was to have a Mediator — one who could represent the two parties, and one who could pay an infinite price for the penalty, one who could cleanse from the disease of sin, and one who could provide a perfect holiness to people. And this could only be done by a mediator who is both God and man. God’s Son, Jesus, who is God Himself, although a different “person” in the Godhead (which is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit — all God, but separate persons) — God’s Son added to Himself the substance of a man — the Holy Spirit created an embryo in a woman named Mary, and Jesus was born into this world, undefiled from the passing along of the sin instinct because not pro-created. He was God and now man as well. This allowed Him to represent both parties in the breach.
And so His purpose as the Mediator, also known as the Christ who was to make up this breach, was to pay the penalty, do the cleansing, and provide the perfect holiness.
First, Jesus would need to keep all of God’s rules perfectly throughout His entire life, doing what the first people did not do, otherwise, any punishment given to Him would be for His own sin, and then He could never take away anyone else’s sin penalty, or bring any cleansing or holiness.
Then, Christ Jesus paid the penalty and did the cleansing when He died on a Roman cross, shedding His blood. The Bible says only blood will cleanse from sin, and He shed His blood. And while on the cross, all the sins of His people were transferred in a legal sense to His account, as if He had committed all the sins, not that He had, but God looked at Him as if He had, and therefore could justly condemn Jesus for those sins. And so, He endured the eternal and infinite anger, wrath and punishment for all the sins of His people. Only an infinite Being could endure that infinite punishment, and He did.
And with the penalty now paid for, and the blood shed for the cleansing from sin, the last thing that remained was the holiness for His people. So, in the same way that His people’s sins were transferred to His account on the cross, Christ’s perfect keeping of God’s rules are transferred onto their account, as if they had kept them, even though they had not.
Also, Christ Jesus was raised from the dead, which shows the Father accepted His payment of the penalty for His people, and as a first-example of them being raised from the dead to be with Him one day.
And now God and man could once again be in fellowship!
And further, He takes those for whom Christ died and actually adopts them into His family! As far as God is concerned, they are actually in His personal family, and adopted brothers and sisters of Jesus Himself! Amazing!
And He has graciously granted a record of all this in the Bible, so we could know anything about Him, our situation, and His great remedy!
Now, things have to happen to a person individually for them specifically to be able to be in fellowship with God again. That sin-only instinct that rules in all people has to be handled. What God does is He puts in a new “instinct”, like in the original people, which is a stamp again of His image — an instinct of love and goodness, etc. And that instinct is put in place in overthrow of the sin instinct, where a person is not bound to only sin anymore, freeing them from that bondage. They can now follow God’s rules, and they actually have a desire to do so — to choose these things. And while a person before could do what looked like good things, they could not be motivated out of godly love or goodness, because that kind of love only comes from God (ie. it’s His love) and was no longer there, but now they can actually love and do good that is motivated by a God-like character. This implanting of new instinct done by the Holy Spirit is called being given a new “heart” (which is the seat of all of our motivations), or called being “born again”.
Now, while a person like this has a new instinct that is in charge, during this lifetime, they still carry around that sin instinct. The Bible calls it carrying around a body of death, which I understand was an old form of punishment where a person had a dead body tied to them and they had to literally carry it around while it rotted. A born-again person still has that instinct, but it doesn’t rule, and that godly instinct, especially over time, out of love to God, more and more will hate that bad instinct, and look forward to a day when it will be gone.
And this only happens after death. And when someone dies, they either die under the eternal penalty of God and with only a sin instinct, or free from the penalty with the godly instinct. And then everyone will be judged by God. And either Jesus Christ paid the penalty for the person, and provided the cleansing and holiness for a person, or He didn’t, and then that person will have to face everything Jesus did by themselves, for all eternity.
And what motivated God to do all this, when He wasn’t under any obligation to do any of it? Love. The Bible says God is love, and He has shown it in this process, part of which is sending His beloved, only Son. Think about that as a father, or if you have a loving father or mother — think about how difficult it would be to send your son to not only die, but that so you could pour out an infinite anger and punishment on that son, even to the point where on the cross there was a brief separation of Jesus and the manifestation or His sense of the Father’s love (they couldn’t be actually separated because Jesus was still God as well, which means that kind of separation can never happen, but He sensed it as man). But, what great love of the Father to do this! And then the great love of Christ Himself in willingly doing all of these things, including enduring the wrath of the One He loved dearly and has been with from all eternity past! And then the great love of the Holy Spirit to bring all of these things about and apply them and nurture God’s people as they live out their new lives here!
So, how does a person participate in all this. The first step is understanding that you are indeed a sinner, and that you can do nothing about it yourself. And then, coming to the only One who can apply this work of new birth to your heart, and asking that He will, and that He will forgive and cleanse you from your sins, and give you that new heart, and with that grant that you hate and turn from your sin in a desire to follow His rules and commands in obedience, and that He would grant you that same love that He showed in providing this great scenario of being saved from sin and punishment and filth and restoration to fellowship with Him.
And He promises those who come to Him these ways in sincerity He will not cast away. He says seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.
If you have never done this before, we pray this day, that He will call you to this, even this day. We are not guaranteed our next heartbeat, and once we die, the whole thing will have been decided. We pray you might come to Him this day, and seek and knock, and we pray He grant you this new life, and a love for Him, and a desire to be with such a loving Creator and God and Savior forever!