Monday, November 23, 2009

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

by Bruce Mills

In my last post, I said that I would explain how a person avoids God’s wrath and eternal condemnation. What follows comes from a recent funeral service I conducted for the mother of a close friend. He specifically requested that I present the gospel to those who attended, and this is the gospel message I gave. I have only edited it to remove specific, personal references to the deceased.

That lady was just like every other person on the face of the earth—she was a sinner. She wasn’t perfect—she struggled and suffered the natural outcome of sin’s impact in her life. Every one of us does. Death itself is the ultimate and most obvious consequence of sin, as we are told in the Bible in Romans 5:12 where it says that “just as through one man—Adam—sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

So, every one of us is a sinner and some day, if Christ doesn’t return first, we are all going to die. And that means that we have a problem. In fact, it is the most serious problem that anyone will ever face. Our problem is that God is absolutely holy and righteous. He cannot allow sin into His presence. In fact, His required standard for anyone to enter heaven is absolute perfection. In Matt. 5:48, Jesus put it very bluntly when He said, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” And since none of us is perfect, that means we are all unrighteous, and that means we all justly deserve God’s eternal condemnation in hell.

In fact, the Bible tells us that over and over again. In 1 Cor. 6:9 it says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” And in Eph. 5:5 it says, “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” So then, none of us is perfect. So the question is, how can we be certain that we will go to heaven. Well, the answer has nothing to do with Jeanne. It has everything to do with Jesus Christ.

You see, Jesus Christ was not merely a man—He was God in human flesh. That’s who He claimed to be. He said, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30). He said, “He who has seen Me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9). As C. S. Lewis put it, you cannot call Him a good teacher or a great prophet or a good man, but deny that He is God. You must decide whether or not He was telling the truth when He claimed to be God. If you conclude that He was not God, then you are saying that He was either a liar or a lunatic. If He was a liar, then He wasn’t a good man. If He was a lunatic, then He cannot be considered to be a great teacher. But if He is who He claimed to be; that is, God in flesh, then we owe Him our every allegiance and all obedience.

And so God sent His Son, Jesus, to the earth and He took upon Himself the sins of every person who would ever believe and He died to pay the penalty for those sins. Those sins deserved eternal judgment, and so only someone who was absolutely perfect could pay that penalty. And Jesus was the perfectly righteous God-man who paid the price for sin. And then He rose again, defeating death and sin. And now He offers forgiveness from sin and eternal life to everyone who repents of their sin and trusts in Him as the only mediator between God and man.

Once again, Jesus left us with no other options. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). That is a very exclusive claim. But again, if we believe He was who He claimed to be, then He has every right to make such a statement.

And in Acts 4:12, we are told that “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus Christ is the only way to God. That’s not something I came up with; that’s what God Himself says.

And those who come to Jesus through faith alone in Him find that God forgives all their sin, and credits the righteousness of His perfect Son to their account, so that when He looks at them, He sees the perfection of Jesus and no longer sees their sin. And that makes them eternally acceptable to enter and live in heaven forever and ever.

It was that gospel which my friend’s mother came to understand and believe. And because she placed her faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for her eternal salvation, she is at this very moment, in the presence of her Lord and Savior.

And I am convinced that if she could be here with us today, she would tell you, “Believe in Christ. Turn your back on your sin, and turn to Jesus Christ and trust Him and Him alone for your eternal salvation. That is the most important decision you will ever make.”

She would want everyone to recognize their sin for what it is—an offense against a holy and righteous God. It is the corruption that separates man from God, and which destroys everything that is good. And as long as a man or woman remains in their sin, they are dead spiritually.

And she would tell you that the only way to receive forgiveness for your sin is to come to Jesus Christ, repenting of that sin, and place your complete trust and faith in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. And she would tell you that when you do that, Jesus will cleanse you and forgive you, remove the penalty of eternal death, and give you the free gift of eternal life in heaven with Him.

And then, when that day comes—as it does for all of us—that you pass through death’s door, you will find Jesus there, along with every person who has placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation from sin and death.

Now, someone might say, “But I’m too old for that stuff. I’ve wasted my life. It’s too late for me.” Let me just urge you to consider the claims of Jesus Christ, regardless of how old you are or how you have lived your life. Age or the trials and struggles and sinfulness of your life should never be an excuse. In fact, those who come to faith late in their lives are simply demonstrations of the greatness of God’s grace and His willingness to forgive sin and bring peace and hope into one’s life.

I hope anyone who reads this who does not know Jesus Christ will repent of their sin and turn to Him in saving faith. That is the only way that anyone will avoid God’s wrath and eternal condemnation, and enjoy eternal life in heaven.

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