What Is the Gospel?: The 3R’s of What Will Christ Do When You Believe
When I first came to Christ, I did not have the privilege of someone explaining the full Gospel to me. Many people have not had the opportunity to hear the basics of the gospel in one presentation. So I have attempted to put together a simple and memorable gospel outline:
- The ABC’s of becoming a Christian: Admit Your Sin, Believe in Jesus, Count the Cost.
- The 3R’s of Believing: Jesus as Replacement, Risen and Ruler.
- The 3R’s of what Christ Will Do When You Believe: Reconcile You to God, Make You Righteous and Give You Rebirth.
In this final blog I will address the 3R’s of what Christ will do when you believe.
First, Jesus reconciles us to God. This implies that at one time we were estranged. Indeed our sin had separated us from God who is holy.
Few things feel worse than having a rift in a relationship. When I was in my early twenties, I had gone out with a girl for about a year when she broke up with me. The final thing she said was “Don’t call me!” The pain of the breakup was intensified by my being cut off from communicating with her. Far worse than losing any human relationship is the loss of communion with our Creator. We were made to love and be loved by God yet because of our sin we face an eternity of separation from Him.
Thankfully God provided a remedy for our broken relationship. Paul exhorts
“be reconciled to God”
(2 Cor. 5:20b) and Peter wrote,
“For Christ died for sins once for all to bring you to God”
(1 Pt. 3:18).
Just as few things are better than the relief and satisfaction that come from reuniting with someone with whom there has been a conflict there is great joy in being reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Jesus not only reconciles us to God, he gives us his righteousness. Paul considers his Jewish heritage worthless compared to this:
“that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:8b-9).
A key truth in this passage is that our righteousness is not our own, it is a gift. We cannot make ourselves good enough to stand before a holy God or earn our way to heaven. God does not, as some wrongly believe, “help those who help themselves.” Rather, God helps those who admit they cannot help themselves and so look to a Source of help outside of themselves.
At the cross, God treated Christ Jesus as if he had lived a totally sinful life, in order that He (God) might treat ungodly sinners as if they had lived the totally righteous life that Jesus lived.
I frequently tell young people that it is as if they failed a test that a classmate got 100 percent on. The teacher then decides to count the classmate’s 100 percent on the young person’s record. Jesus’ sinless life is credited to our account through faith.
I’ve often told people on the street: “If you have been hoping to do enough good in your life so that your good outweighs your bad and you make it to heaven, give it up. It won’t happen. None of us deserve heaven or a relationship with God. You don’t qualify but he qualifies you. His righteousness becomes yours. You get in on the basis of his merits, not your own.
Hoping to get a reward from God for our own righteousness is like taking money from a Monopoly game and trying to use it as legal tender. The merchant will not recognize it as valid. Likewise the only righteousness God recognizes as valid has its source in Christ.
Finally Jesus gives a believer rebirth. Paul wrote to Titus, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). We need a new heart and greater power than what we possess. And these are what Christ provides.
When my two youngest daughters were four and seven, I found them doing something that alarmed me. My youngest girl Emily, wanted to have her tooth come out after seeing her older sister, Elyse, lose a tooth. Elyse was willing to help her make this a reality. She tied the end of a string around one of Emily’s teeth and the other end around a doorknob. She then opened the door attempting to pull the tooth out. I must admit, I was impressed with their ingenuity. What they didn’t understand about losing teeth is that a tooth becomes loose because a new and better tooth is forming. They were trying to bypass that process by taking matters into their own hands.
Likewise, a lifestyle that is pleasing to the Lord cannot develop unless we have a new heart, i.e., a new nature as well as the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. Paul says that that power for us who believe is like the power that raised Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:18-20). So God provides not only forgiveness through Christ but new power to live His ways.
Once I was preaching a gospel message at the Eugene Mission when a man interrupted, saying:
“I’ve been coming here for several days to these chapels and no one has talked about the Ten Commandments. “If I follow the Ten Commandments, I should be good.” His comments were a great setup to explain the gospel.
I asked those present: “How many of you have kept the ninth commandment? You shall not lie (give false testimony)?” No one raised his hand. That moment perfectly illustrated everyone’s need to be forgiven. I shared that one of the purposes of the law is to show a person his need for a Savior. We have all blown it before a holy God and need saved from the penalty of our sin. We need to be reconciled to God, to be made righteous and be given rebirth. Jesus provides all these when we exercise faith in him.
Copyright Ed Skipper 2013