Going Deeper with the Message:
The Problem, The Solution, The Response
by: Ben Biles
Throughout our current series When God Walked Alone, Pastor Tim has been developing the clearest possible version of the gospel message. The reason for this is that the language surrounding the communication of the gospel can be confused and many of us have experienced this in our lives. However, just because it sounds spiritual, doesn’t make it correct. So, in order to build confidence in the truth that God has given us, we feel that it is necessary to present it in a format that is easily understood and without confusion. It includes three parts: the problem, the solution, and the response.
First, the problem is sin. The horrifying truth is that all people are sinful. It all started with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden deciding to disobey God and then spread to all of humanity. Every single person, except for Jesus the Son of God, has followed in Adam and Eve’s footsteps in sin. In Ephesians, Paul writes, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world” (Eph. 2:1–2). In Scripture, there are two kinds of death. Physical death is the separation of the soul from the body. Spiritual death is the separate of the individual from God. Our sin separated us from God. We were spiritually dead. We could neither know Him or even come to know Him through anything that we did. Left in our sins, we were doomed to an eternal separation from God.
Thankfully, the solution is Jesus. The Father sent His Son into the world. He lived a perfect life completely free from sin. Yet, He was nailed to a cross, taking the sins of the world upon Himself, and was killed as a sacrifice for our sins. Why did Jesus have to die? Because the penalty for sin is death. Only the righteous Son of God could take our place and die the death we deserved. Through his death, Jesus paid the penalty for us all.
Finally, the response that God is looking for is faith. There are no other conditions except for faith. You don’t have to make a commitment. You don’t have to surrender your life. You don’t have to be baptized. All of these involve an exchange in which we receive eternal life in exchange for something we give God. Instead, God gives us salvation freely and we receive it by faith. Again in Ephesians, Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8–9). We couldn’t do anything to resolve our sin problem, but God could and He did. Now, He extends salvation from sin freely as a gift to be received simply by faith. In this, we rejoice knowing that our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life.
The problem is sin. The solution is Jesus. And the response that God is looking for is faith. That is the gospel.
Living out the Message:
Faith and Discipleship
By Ben Biles
Over the last few weeks, we’ve tried to make the Gospel message as clear as possible. Simply put, it starts with a problem: we are all sinful. Yet, God the Father sent His Son to earth as a solution to our problem. Jesus died on a cross as a sacrifice for our sins and the Father raised Him up to life as acceptance of the payment of our debt. The response God is looking for now is faith. Whoever believes in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of their sins receives eternal life. They are saved from sin forever and enter into a relationship with God.
God did everything to secure our salvation and He offers it freely as a gift. There is nothing that we can do to earn it in any way. We simply receive God’s gift of eternal life by faith. Yet, if you’ve been in church for a while, you’ve probably heard things like “you need to follow God,” “you need to obey God,” or “you need to serve God,” etc. To be clear, following, obeying, and serving God are all great decisions to be made by believers, but they in no way earn salvation. Instead, these are all a part of the discipleship process that we choose to enter into after we place our faith in Jesus. We do this because we want to know God more and grow in His love and grace.
But what if someone believes in Jesus and then immediately goes back to a sinful lifestyle? Are they still saved? If someone believes in Jesus, his death and resurrection, then God gives him salvation. There is nothing that they can do to earn it, and there is nothing that they can do to lose it. To go back into sin is a misunderstanding of the life God offers us and the destructive nature of sin, but it does not cancel out faith. No amount of sin we commit can lose the salvation God gives us.
The Apostle Paul writes, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him… So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:6–8, 11). Our faith in Jesus gives us a relationship with God—we are ‘alive’ to God. We can now freely choose to follow God, obey Him, and serve Him, all of which lead to a richer, fuller experience of life. God does not force us to follow Him. He does not force us to stop sinning against Him. It is a decision we make in response to His love for us.