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Gospel 101

The Bible-

We believe the Bible contains words which God gave us so that we may be saved. The Bible is a compilation of two covenants. The first covenant is the scriptures of the Jews before Jesus came. It informs us of who God is, how we came to be in our sinful state, and what God has planned to do about it. The second covenant is called the New Testament and contains the writings about Jesus and of His appointed spokesmen. These spokesmen were authorized by Jesus to speak on His behalf. The books and letters they wrote convey the message of Jesus- how He came to bring Salvation- and how we can live pleasing lives to Him. God’s Word is imperishable, meaning it will not change and is just as pertinent to our lives as it was to all people of previous generations.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

God is Creator-

The first sentence of the Bible informs us of the origin of the universe. Because God has created all things, He has authority over all things. The Creator has inherent right to make whatever He wishes, tell it why it was made, and expect that creation to conform to its purpose. We, as creation, have an obligation to conform to our creator. We were made in His image. When we try to make God in our own image, we fail our purpose. The reason the Bible is so important is because it reveals God’s thoughts and will for us. Apart from His revealed word, we have no access to His mind. We treat the Bible as authoritative because God has all authority. He tells us what right and wrong is, what the consequences of sin are, and how we should be behaving.

For by Him all things were created in heaven and earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things have been created through Him and for Him… He Himself will have first place in everything. – Colossians 1:16-18

Man is Sinful-

We were created good and for the purpose of imitating God’s goodness. Yet part of our being in God’s image allows us the freedom to make our own choices. God has created in us a sense of morality which He expects us to live by. He has told mankind from the beginning what is right and wrong. Only God is perfect. So we, by own choices, have left what is good for our own selfish ways. Every time we choose self over God’s character, we bring dishonor to God’s glory. This is called sin. Everyone has sinned. It doesn’t matter who we are, where we live, or how righteous we are. We are all guilty of sin. Because we have fallen short of His glory, we have permanently marred our souls and separated ourselves from our perfectly holy Creator. By all rights and fairness, God could have destroyed us each at the moment of disgrace, for in that moment we undo our very purpose of living. Yet God is merciful. He still wants a relationship with us. His love and His grace created a system of sacrifice whereby our sins can be forgiven. To the Jews of the first covenant God allowed sacrifice of pure animals to stand in the place of their sins. This was not meant to be a permanent solution. It was meant to direct us to the perfect sacrifice found in Jesus.

All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. If we say that we have no sin we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us…If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. Romans 3:23 1 John 1:8-10

Jesus is the Son of God-

Before Jesus was born, and even before the earth was created, Jesus was dedicated as the Son of God. The Son of God is a divine title. To be God’s son so exclusively means He carries all the rights and privileges of God. Indeed, the Gospel of John confirms that Jesus is called the divine Word of God even before being called Jesus. God came to earth as a man for several purposes. He came so that He could help us through all our physical temptations. He came to be the perfect bridge between Deity and humankind. Most importantly, God came as man in order to die. It is true that the Spirit does not die apart from sin. Since God cannot sin, He had to be made like us so that His death could take the place of ours. Even while in the flesh, Jesus knew no sin. But the corruption of this earth still allowed that body to die. While on the earth, Jesus devoted His time to serve us instead of demand service. He taught the true meaning of love and forgiveness. All of the first Jewish covenant was leading up to Him. He fulfilled it all and made it perfect.

Therefore since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil Although He existed as deity, he did not regard equality with God something to be held on to, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of humans. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Hebrews 2:14 Philippians 2:6-8

Sins on the Cross-

We stress, again, that Jesus did not commit nor was found guilty of sin: He is God. But through the means of sacrifice, God transferred our sins to his body and cross. When He died, our sins died with Him. In the Jewish scriptures there is a story of Moses which relates. When the Jews remained exceedingly rebelliant, God sent poisonous snakes to bite them. He told Moses to make an image of a snake and lift it up on a pole. All who looked at the snake would be healed of their poison. Jesus says this is what He is doing on the cross. When we see Jesus on the cross, we can come to God. When God sees Jesus on the cross, He will pass over our sins. The punishment for our dishonor and rebellion is laid on Jesus. He did so willingly, out of love for us. At the time, no one could possibly imagine good coming from such an unfair and horrific death. In hind sight we see the cross as the wisdom and righteousness and mercy of God. Those who do not comprehend their need for salvation only see the cross as foolishness.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. -2 Corinthians 5:21 -John 3:14-15

Death and Resurrection-

Jesus died on the cross, was buried, but on the third day rose again. God can not be held by death. Only Jesus’ body died. His spirit lived on. By overcoming the physical barrier of death, Jesus becomes the first of many who can be raised like Him. Our spirits, on the other hand are dead when we dishonor God’s glory. The reason we need Jesus is because sin pays us back in death. Jesus’ death by itself does not spare us from the death sin gives us. Jesus’ resurrection is what gives us hope that our spirits and our bodies can be resurrected. If we are to live again, we must follow Jesus’ example and recognize our spiritual state, kill off the old selfish ways, and be born again as a new spiritual person. Without killing the old self and putting aside our evil ways, we cover ourselves with our sins and Jesus’ sacrifice does not apply to us. Yes, Jesus came to save all men, but only those who love Him will take advantage of His offer. God cannot abide sin into eternity. We must repent of our sin and let Jesus’ blood wash us clean – and remain clean – if we are to join Him in heaven. Jesus’ death and resurrection is vital. Our death and resurrection is mandatory as well.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6:5-14

The Child of God-

So we know we must be united with Jesus’ death if we are to be born again as God’s children. But how do we do this? We kill off the old self, crucify our sins to Jesus’ cross, burry sin, and rise up a new person all through Baptism. Baptism is not a traditional ritual that only has ‘church affiliation’ implications. The scriptures tell us that baptism is the very way in which we are united with Jesus. We cannot claim to be raised with Jesus apart from Baptism. If we have not died with Him and nailed our sins to the cross, then we are still in our sins. We do not do this to earn salvation, but to appeal to God for His own saving grace to be applied to us. Calling on the name Jesus to save us means nothing unless we conform ourselves to what He wants. The child of God has been born again through water and spirit. The child of God lives life for the Glory of Jesus, not the satisfaction of self. The child of God does not practice sin, but practices good. The child of God receives an eternal inheritance to live with the Father in heaven.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Romans 6:3-4 Colossians 2:11-12 Galatians 3:26-27
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