Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

My Photo
Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Taz.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Heart of the Gospel

With all the different movements trying to claim to be Christian these days, there is a lot of ambiguity as to what the gospel is. Many people are putting forward different theories about what the true gospel is supposed to be. In so doing, the heart of the true gospel is being drowned out or lost altogether.

The gospel begins with the total sinfulness of man. The corruption of sin extends to every part of the person's being. Nothing is left untouched by sin. We inherit this corruption from Adam and his sin in the Garden of Eden. Because we are corrupt by nature, we choose a life of sin. So pervasive is this corruption that no man has any righteousness in and of himself. (I use the masculine gender nouns here for ease only). There is nothing is us to commend ourselves to God. Because of God's holiness He can only condemn us. Our very life is an offense to His holiness. Our corruption renders us incapable of saving ourselves or even to assist God in saving us.

But God, in His love and by His grace, has chosen to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. Every single sin requires an infinite payment to God to be made to atone for that sin. Since each sin is an offense to His infinite holiness it incurs an infinite debt. Yet, we are finite creatures. None of us could make an infinite payment. So God, sent His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who is both man and God to make the payment we could not make. By His sinless life and cruel death, Jesus pays an infinite payment for sin ... and since He is God, His payment is an infintite payment not only for one sin (which requires an infinite payment), but for all the sin it needed to pay for.

Jesus died on the cross in the place of sinful men. This is called the doctrine of the penal substitutionary atonement. Penal because it deals with punishment. Subsitutionary because Jesus stands in the place of someone else. Atonement because those who are substituted for have peace with God through the act of Jesus in his sacrifice. Scripture says "He shall save His people from their sins." Matt. 1:21.

What we could not do, God does for us. Now he calls men everywhere to repent and believe the good news that Jesus died for them ... personally. Those who are being drawn to Christ will come and everyone who comes will find mercy and pardon from God. No one who comes to Jesus is turned away, but everyone who comes is eternally saved.

This is the heart of the gospel, Jesus ... a substitute for sinners. Without it there is no gospel. No matter what someone comes preaching if it is something different than the substitutionary atonemenf of Jesus then it is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A body without a heart is dead. A church without this glorious truth is dead. Paul said "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ because it is the power of God unto salvation ... " The gospel is the power of God to save. The gospel is the substitutionary atonement of Christ. And that is a truth worth dying for and worth living for. It is the heart of our faith.