2019-04-23 The Gospel.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

I offered to share the gospel with a friend recently, and he agreed. Here’s my take. The gospel is the teaching of Jesus Christ. It is often called the Good News. The phrase is also used to affirm truth. It actually is used in all sorts of ways for all sorts of purposes, some of which would not necessarily be proper.

It seems to me that the best place to start is with an understanding that God created everything according to his will. Well, not only an understanding, but a willingness to accept the idea that, as creator, God has the right to create everything as he sees fit. Furthermore, he has no need or obligation to get our opinion or approval on anything. Unless we are willing to accept the fact that God is God and we are not, then we will always have trouble understanding the gospel.

If God alone is the creator, then it is his prerogative to create things the way he chooses. One of the things he chose was to give humans the ability to know him, both implicitly and explicitly. Implicitly, we know God through the things we see all around us – nature, if you will. Explicitly, we know God through his direct communication in a book we call the Bible. In it, we have everything God intends for us to know about his creation – both in how it came to be and what will happen to it over time. It does not answer every question we might have; but like any good teacher, God gives us clear instructions so that we might live as he intends.

Here’s something else to consider. There are a lot of books that make many claims, most of which are not in agreement with the Bible. Why should we believe that this book is valid? Moreover, why should we accept that this one book is the only valid book out there? Here’s why. This book isn’t just a book but rather a collection of books written by many people over thousands of years that form a unified, consistent theme. It has been proven to be unchanged over this time through the discovery of ancient manuscripts and archeological evidence. Most importantly, this book has consistently foretold future events. Yes, humans make predictions every day, but no one has the ability to directly influence events in the future. We’re talking about the rise and fall of kingdoms at places and times that no one could have controlled. It foretold of the family becoming a great nation while under the slavery as well as its incredible release from that captivity at a point of time – 400 years – that was right on schedule. This type of thing didn’t happen just once. Over and over, this book foretold what was to happen. Why? So that people might know and trust their God.

You know what else it foretells? It foretells that none of the people will do this. Actually, it is more accurate to say that none will do this on their own. Yes, people do know and follow God as he intends, but only with his intervention. Left alone, each of us are quickly distracted and forget our creator. We eventually come to the point that we flat out reject him when our wandering is pointed out to us. We choose to revere other things instead of God. We decide for ourselves what our god or gods will be. You name it. These gods might be the earth itself or the things in it. It might be things of our own imagination. It might be the things we make – material possessions. It may be fame, fortune, or power. It may be ourselves.

Here’s the weird part. We think these things are destructive only when we look at the behavior of those whose lives have gone out of control when compared to others. It’s easy to say that this rock star or that rock star foolishly worshipped the lifestyle that ultimately killed them. It’s easy to say a cult worshipped a false god after they committed mass suicide. Destruction isn’t only evident on the grand scale. It’s also evident in the life of the “good” people; it’s just that we don’t feel it’s a problem when we compare. We don’t want to look at our own behavior to see if it lines up with that which the creator intended.

That’s how we are. That’s how we all are. That’s how humans have been from the very beginning and will be to the very end. We chase after anything and everything except for the God who created us. Furthermore, he created us with the expectation that we will worship him exclusively! That’s right. Our loyalty must be on nothing other than God. No exceptions. Furthermore, he gave us a whole bunch of rules that we must live by. We live by them, and things will go well. We don’t, and things won’t. By the way, things not going well doesn’t necessarily mean while we are alive. There will come a day when each of us dies. At that time, God will judge us on our actions. Long story short, those who obey are rewarded with heaven. Those who don’t are condemned to eternal torment as punishment.

Whoa! What a minute! This is crazy, right? You mean to tell me that God created us the way he wanted, yet no one will follow him? Then he will punish them all for that? Wasn’t he the one who created things this way?

That’s right, but there is more to the story. God also provided a means of mercy. He holds us accountable for our disobedience, yes, but he also provides to all a means of forgiveness. He did so through Jesus Christ who came to this earth to walk among us, to teach us, and to show us he was God. He then allowed himself to be crucified on a cross. Why? To pay the ransom price of our sin. The then rose from the dead so that he might destroy death. Jesus now is with God the Father in heaven. One day he will return to judge the living and the dead. Some will spend eternity with him in heaven. Most will spend it in torment that will never end.

Faith in Jesus is the only requirement. That’s it. There is nothing you can do to earn your spot in heaven. The only thing to do is believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that he died for our sins and has risen from the dead. That’s it, but the belief must be genuine. Lying about it won’t pass any test. Furthermore, genuine faith is evident by a changed life. We all know that born-agains are different. Jesus expects a radical change from the ordinary. We are able to finally do that through the power of the Holy Spirit who comes to reside in us. We are not perfect – yet – but are definitely changed.

Now, I’m sure you have many, many questions, all of which can be answered. But, for now, the main questions are these. Are you satisfied that God is God and you are not? Are you willing to acknowledge that it is his right to make the rules as he pleases? Are you willing to admit that you have been following your own game plan to your shame? Are you willing to believe in Jesus and allow him to forever change your life according to his will, whatever that may mean?

This is a strange story. All of it was foretold through the bible, including all that has been proven by third-party sources regarding Jesus himself. This book has proven itself true. We have no reason to believe that those things foretold that are yet to happen won’t someday actually happen as planned. Even so, most will ultimately reject this – even if it is carefully explained to them. Why? Because they prefer their own ways. Wicked ways of wicked people, according to the Lord. Yet no one will be rejected if only they turn and believe in Jesus. Not one. The choice is theirs. The choice is yours. Each one of us must decide for ourselves.

Choose wisely.

Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers

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