The Good (indeed great) News of Jesus Christ is at once simple and complex, basic and immeasurable. But it is certainly not too complex for us to grasp, at least in a way that demonstrates its power to change lives. As R.C. Sproul says, “His message is simple enough for the most simplistic of fallen creatures to understand.” What I hope to do here is faithfully present a basic introduction to the message of the Good News of Jesus so that you may turn from your sins and trust in Christ. As always, God’s Word, the Bible is the source of our knowledge about the triune God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ; the “Bible itself is the only authoritative description of the diamond of Jesus Christ” (John Piper).
The story starts with God, who created everything from nothing. Philosophers call this creatio ex nihilo. God made the world and all there is in the universe. In fact, the Bible says that Jesus created everything (Colossians 1:16). This reminds us that God is three in one—Father, Son, Spirit. So, God made it all and it was good. But then came sin. Instead of trusting in and delighting in God alone, Adam rebelled against God’s Word and plunged humanity into the curse we now experience. Pain, sadness, sickness, abuse, death. These things are stark realities in all our lives. But it is not normal. This world is messed up. In a word, it is sinful.
All men suffer from the illness of sin. Not only do men sin, but men are sinners by nature (Ephesians 2:1-3). At his root, his core, his heart, man is alienated from and hostile toward God. He prefers to satisfy his sinful cravings and desires more than to honor and worship God—so much so that he is a slave to sin. (Thabiti Anyabwile)
God, however, did not completely abandon humanity. He promised to send a Savior. God then chose to reveal himself to the world through the Hebrew people, sending his word to prophets to call all people to repentance and faith in the one true God. Sadly, time and time again, the people would not listen. But God still kept his promise. He had promised to deal with sin and deal with sin he did. God the Father sent his Son to become human (we call this the incarnation). He was given the name Jesus, because “he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus taught the truth about God and about sinful humanity, he lived in perfect obedience, always trusting his Father, full of the Holy Spirit, and he never sinned. But he didn’t just come to teach. He came to “give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).
Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection is central to Christianity. Jesus’ death on the cross occurred to reconcile sinful people to God (Colossians 1:21-22). He died in order to forgive men and women of their sins. After all, God is a just God and he will by no means ignore sin. Payment had to me made. It was nailed to the cross. Jesus, though he “committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22), took on the punishment for sin, namely God’s wrath. This wrath is often described in the Bible as the cup of God’s wrath.
This cup contains the full vehemence and fierceness of God’s holy wrath poured out against all sin, and we discover in Scripture that it’s intended for all sinful humanity to drink…In the crucible of human weakness [Jesus is] brought face-to-face with the abhorrent reality of bearing our iniquity and becoming the object of God’s full and furious wrath. (C.J. Mahaney)
To be saved is thus to be saved from the wrath of God. It is also to be saved from the power of sin (1 Peter 2:24) and the alienation from God we suffer from. So, forgiveness of sins is central to the Good News of Jesus Christ. But it is not the end all.
Salvation is not mainly about forgiveness of sins, but mainly the fellowship of Jesus. Forgiveness gets everything out of the way so this can happen. If this fellowship is not all-satisfying, there is no great salvation. If Christ is gloomy, or even calmly stoical, eternity will be a long, long sigh. (John Piper)
Salvation is about restoring the whole person. It is about restoring us to how we were created to be. We were created to glorify God, obey his word, and enjoy him forever. Salvation is not about saying a “sinner’s pray” and getting a “get-out-of-hell-free” card from Jesus. It is about turning from the sin of not loving and treasuring God above all else and embracing Jesus Christ as the supremely valuable Person that he is. (Two good questions to honestly ask yourself are these: Is Jesus really supremely valuable to me? Do I truly want him to be?)
Jesus not only died for sinners but rose for sinners. His resurrection from the dead is vital to Christianity’s validity. After Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to his disciples and instructed them. He then ascended to heaven and is now reigning as Lord of all. The Holy Spirit is given to all those who repent of their sins and trust in Jesus. The Spirit helps believers to overcome sin and become more like Jesus. God is still at work in the world today. He is calling people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. He is using his true church to spread the love and truth of Jesus Christ. He wants people to be fully satisfied in him (God is not a killjoy). But God’s judgment is coming. He will restore all things and transform the world. Those who do not repent of their sins, refuse to trust in Jesus, and, thus, are unwilling to obey and love the truth will be judged. If you think about it, if you do not find your greatest joy in Jesus now, why would you want to spend an eternity with him? As Charles Spurgeon once said: “God is everything. When God gives Himself to us, He gives us more than all time and all eternity, all Earth and all heaven.” Thus, the Good News of Jesus is mainly this: Jesus. But the question is, Do you want him? Bow your knee to him now in humble obedience. He is King of kings and Lord or lords.
To read more about Jesus Christ check out John Piper’s book Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ for free by clicking here.