There is something about the way human beings are made and live that makes us all wonder if there is a God, and if so, how can we know Him. A leading Christian thinker in the fifth century, St Augustine, said, “You [God] have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in You.” So how do we do that?
The word gospel literally means “good news.” As Christians, we in All Nations believe in the good news that tells us through Jesus, we can know God and have a friendship with God. In fact, it is a cosmic message. Not only does God want to relate with each of us, but He has a plan to renew the whole world. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:19, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” And Colossians 1:19-20 says, “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
Why do we need the Gospel?
You do not have to look far or think too hard before realising the world is in a mess. Greed and selfishness have wrecked what was a perfect creation. Humans living in independence from God have messed up themselves, each other and the world around. All along, God wanted us to experience His presence and His friendship, but the condition is that we have to be like Him: “I am the Lord your God … Be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44). “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The problem is, we are not perfect. Even the very best of us are selfish and independent; we cause hurt to others and ourselves. We need help.
What is the gospel?
The very first occasion recorded in the New Testament when someone put this gospel into words is in Acts chapter 2. Peter explained the strange happenings the people could see. He was speaking to a Jewish audience, so he used references to the Old Testament they would have understood. Other examples in the Bible show that the same message needs to be explained in different ways to be understood by the hearers.
KEY ELEMENTS ARE:
Key Element 1:
The essence of Peter’s message is about Jesus, and in particular that He is the Lord who made the universe and who is to be obeyed. He is not just a teacher or philosopher or miracle worker; He is God in human form. His death and resurrection are what make it possible for us to know God.
Key Element 2:
There are things that need explaining. Sometimes, it might be a miracle or supernatural experience in a worship meeting; sometimes, it might be the character of a Christian or fascination with the work that the church is doing; sometimes, it might be the ideas/philosophies that someone is thinking through. We start with something to explain and this may well be different for different people.
Key Element 3:
There needs to be a response to Jesus. We must repent (which means turning away from a life of doing our own thing towards a life of obedience to Jesus and friendship with Him) and we must show what is taking place in our hearts by being baptised in water. (See Acts 2:38)
Key Elements 4:
God forgives our sins and fills us with His Holy Spirit. God comes to live in us and we live “in Him.” It might take a lifetime to work through all the changes this brings about but right from the start, we can know God, we talk to Him and we listen to Him. What an amazing privilege!