What Is the Gospel?: The 3R’s of Belief

Last week I wrote about the ABC’s of becoming a Christian. This week’s topic is The 3R’s of a Relationship with Christ. There is an old saying that describes the essentials of a child’s education called “The 3R’s”: (reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic.) Similarly there are three essential concepts a person must understand when beginning a relationship with Christ. They are Replacement, Resurrection and Ruler.


Paul wrote,

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”

(Rom. 5:8). We were on Death Row, so to speak, because of our sin when God sent His Son to die in our place as our substitute. Jesus became our “replacement” sacrifice. This reveals God to be both just and merciful.

I often explain this by saying, “It is as if I went to take a swing at you and your friend stepped in and took the hit instead of you. That’s what Jesus did for you. He took the hit you deserved and paid your price.”

One night, when my children were young I kept hearing sounds of splashing water coming from the bathroom. "What


that?", I wondered. I thought one of my daughters had gotten up out of bed to use the restroom and was playing in the sink as she washed her hands. I laid in bed for a couple of minutes expecting to hear her footsteps retreating to her bedroom. But the splashing continued.

I finally got up to stop the playtime only to find the bathroom light off and the house dark. “Surely no one is playing in water in the dark”, I thought to myself.

Once in the bathroom, I realized that the splashing was coming from the toilet. I immediately thought of stories I’d heard of snakes coming up into people’s toilets. I cautiously peeked into the toilet and discovered a rat! Muriel, our little pet rat had somehow fallen in and was scrambling to get out. She was completely trapped and needed a rescue...so I went and got my wife Char!

Just like that pet rat we need a rescue. We need outside intervention. That intervention was provided by God in sending His Son Jesus to die in our place.


After Jesus died on the cross for our sins he rose again. Jesus’ resurrection was God the Father’s affirmation of Jesus’ perfect life and “stamp of approval” of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. By rising

Jesus conquered death and guaranteed that we too will, one day, have a resurrected body that will not deteriorate or get sick. We will be raised to commune with God without the hindrance of sin in a place where there will no longer be any pain or sorrow (Rev. 21:3-4). 

Peter states it this way,

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you”

(1 Peter 1:3-4).


When Jesus conquered death and rose from the grave God exalted him to the highest place (Philippians 2:9). He became ruler and Master of all. He is Lord and, as such his people must submit to him. Paul wrote,

if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”

(Romans 10:9).

When I think of submitting to Jesus’ lordship and rule I think of a pen that I own. As far as I am concerned, my pen exists strictly for my purposes. It is at my disposal. I use it when I want, how I want, and as often as I want. So it is with a person in a relationship with Christ: they must be willing to be fully available to God and His purposes.

Not everyone understands this. Once I approached a small group of high school students near the South Albany High School campus. As I got closer I observed two girls kissing one another. One of them was willing to take my “good person” survey. She boldly proclaimed that she was a Christian yet did not see how her choices conflicted with God’s plan for her. Walking away from that conversation I was stunned by the fact that many people fail to see that a Christian’s submission to Jesus’ rule has all kinds of implications for how we live.

What are the essential beliefs a person is to have about Jesus? That he died in our place (Replacement), that he rose (Resurrection) and that he rules (Ruler).

Next week and my final blog: “The 3 R’s of What Christ Does When a Person Believes”

Copyright Ed Skipper 2013

For more information about Ed’s ministry, listen to him speak or to contact him about speaking to your group.

Sharing Your FaithEd Skipper