Godspell ... Part I
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."1 Or to put it another way the gospel "is God's powerful method of bringing all who believe it to heaven."2
This Scripture text was written by the Apostle Paul in the first century AD. But what is the gospel that Paul was not ashamed of?
As Webster's Dictionary explains, the meaning of "gospel" is "Godspell or good news." It is the good news about God's salvation plan for mankind. Specifically, as another has said: "The gospel is a message about God, a message about sin, a message about Jesus Christ, and a summons to faith and repentance."
1. A Message about God. The gospel is not a message about religion. It's about having a right relationship with God. Religion tends to want to fix us from the outside in. God wants to fix us from the inside out. The first can become an impossible burden. The latter is what brings freedom. Neither is the gospel a set of rules and regulations. It is experiencing God's divine love, divine acceptance and divine forgiveness—and learning to communicate these to every life we touch.
It helps to realize that God isn't out to zap us for the wrongs we've done. In fact, no matter what we have ever done or have failed to do, God loves us with an everlasting love and has a wonderful purpose for our lives—for this life as well as the next! As Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."3 And again, "My purpose is to give life in all its fullness."4
2. A Message about Sin. Many people understandably ask, "If there is a God and if he is a God of love, why does he allow so much suffering, sickness and sadness in today's world? Without sounding too simplistic this is because we have all sinned and separated ourselves from an infinitely holy God.5 It's not that God left us, but rather, we left God and separated ourselves from him—and from his protection.
Another misconception about God is that he is out to punish us for our sins when, in fact, we bring sin's punishment on ourselves because sin has its own natural consequences. If we try to break the universal law of gravity, for instance, we can't. It will break us. Neither can we break God's universal moral law. When we do, it breaks us, and besides its painful effects in this life—suffering, sorrow, sickness and spiritual death—its ultimate and tragic consequence is eternal death which is separation from a holy God6 in the place the Bible calls hell.
To be continued ....
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You for Your wonderful good news that provides hope for all mankind. Please help me to experience Your divine love, divine acceptance and divine forgiveness, and in some way communicate these to every life I touch. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Romans 1:16 (NIV). 2. Romans 1:16 (TLB). 3. John 3:16 (NIV). 4. John 10:10 (TLB). 5. Romans 3:24. 6. Romans 6:23.