The Gospel in Four Words
The gospel begins in the heart of God. The Bible tells us that God loved the world and demonstrated His great love by addressing our need.
God is holy and we are not. That’s a problem. God in His perfect holiness must always respond to sin with judgment and removal. This means we have a predicament that we cannot solve on our own. Fortunately for us, God loves us and chose to intervene on our behalf.
God sent Jesus to be a sinless Savior who did not share our predicament. Jesus stepped in and took the judgment of sin that was due to us. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross is a substitutionary sacrifice for all sins for all time. The crucifixion of Jesus is the heart of the gospel. His resurrection is the power of the gospel. His ascension is the glory of the gospel.
God has made an offer to people. Some will accept that offer. Some will reject. God’s offer to us is free but it’s not automatic. Forgiveness, salvation and eternal life are free because they come at the expense of Jesus. They are not automatic in that we need to admit to God that we are sinners and ask Him for the gift of life through Jesus.
At the heart of all sound doctrine is the cross of Jesus Christ and the amazing privilege that redeemed sinners have in glorifying God because of what He has accomplished. Therefore, we want all that takes place in our lives and in our Church, to proceed from and be related to the gospel.
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (HCSB)
GOD - PEOPLE - JESUS - RESPONSE
Is it possible that the New Testament stories are something similar to our “urban legends” of today? How do we know the four gospels in the Bible are reliable?
There are a number of reasons why it is reasonable to embrace the gospels as credible. I’ll just give you one in this post: The timing of the events of the life of Jesus and the writings about the life of Jesus. The time gap is the crucial element. Timing is everything.
There simply wasn’t enough time for legends about Jesus to have developed and been included in the New Testament documents. The source documents for Jesus’ life are very close in time to the life of Jesus. Consider this:
Paul’s Letters: 48-66AD
The Four Gospels: 50-70AD
Josephus, Jewish Historian: 75-94AD
Tacitus, Roman Historian: 98-117AD
The gospels were written about real people who actually lived, real events that actually occurred, and real places that actually existed. When the gospels were first circulated, there were people who could have refuted these writings as spurious because of personal names, events or places that were named in those writings.
It has been suggested that stories about Jesus were passed on through the generations and ultimately, fact became fiction. Interesting theory. However, the timeline doesn’t support this.
There is simply not enough time between the death of Jesus and the writings of the gospels for legends to have made their way into a specific community.
The most crucial aspect of time is not the gap between the evidence and today.
The most crucial aspect of time is the gap between the evidence and the event.
Evidence is not bad just because it’s old. If the gap between the evidence and the event is short, then it doesn’t matter how long ago the event occurred. The evidence is still good.