The gospel is the good news of salvation through God's grace because of faith in Jesus Christ. It is the message that Christ died for our sins, that he was buried, that according to the Scriptures the third day was raised and then appeared to his disciples. The gospel is the good news that through the work of salvation of Jesus Christ we can enter the kingdom of God. (1, Corinthians 15,1-5, Acts 5,31, Luke 24,46-48, John 3,16, Matthew 28,19-20, Mark 1,14-15, Acts 8,12, 28,30-31)
Why were you born?
They were created for a purpose! God created each of us for one reason - and we are happiest when we live in harmony with the purpose He has given us. You must know what this is.
Many people have no idea what life is all about. They live and they die, they look for some kind of meaning and wonder if their life has a purpose, where they belong, if they really have any meaning in the grand scheme of things. They may have put together the finest collection of bottles, or won the popularity award in high school, but all too quickly youthful plans and dreams fly away in worries and frustrations about missed opportunities, failed relationships or countless "If only" or "What could have been".
Many people lead an empty, unfulfilled life without a purpose and meaning beyond the short-lived satisfaction of money, sex, power, respect, or popularity, which mean nothing, especially when the darkness of death approaches. But life could be so much more than that because God offers much more to each one of us. It gives us true meaning and a real sense of life - the joy of being what it has created us for.
Part 1: Man created in God's image
The first chapter of the Bible tells us that God created man "in His image" (Genesis 1:1,27). Men and women were “created in the image of God” (same verse).
Obviously, we are not created in the image of God in terms of size or weight or skin color. God is spirit, not a created being, and we are made of matter. Yet God has made mankind in his own image, which means he has essentially made us look like him. We have self-confidence, we can communicate, plan, think creatively, design and build, solve problems and be a force for the good in the world. And we can love.
We should be created "after God, in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4,24). But often people are not at all like God in this regard. In fact, people can often be quite godless. Despite our godlessness, however, there are certain things we can rely on. Firstly, that God will always be faithful in his love for us.
A perfect example
The New Testament helps us understand what it means to be created in the image of God. The apostle Paul tells us that God transforms us into something that is perfect and good - the image of Jesus Christ. "Because he chose, he also predetermined that they should be the same as his son's picture, so that he would be the firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8,29). In other words, God intended from the start that we should become like the Son of God in the flesh like Jesus.
Paul says that Jesus himself is "the image of God" (2 Corinthians 4,4). «He is the image of the invisible God» (Colossians 1,15). It is the perfect example of what we were created for. We are God's children in His family and we look at Jesus, God's Son, to see what that means.
One of Jesus' disciples asked him: "Show us the Father" (John 14,8). Jesus replied: "He who sees me sees the Father" (V.9). In other words, Jesus says: What you really need to know about God can be seen in me.
He doesn't talk about skin color, clothing styles or the skills of a carpenter - he talks about spirit, attitude and actions. God is love, wrote John (1 John 4,8), and Jesus shows us what love is and how we should love as people who are being transformed into his image.
Since people were made in the image of God and Jesus is the image of God, it is no wonder that God shapes us in the image of Jesus. It should take "form" in us (Galatians 4,19). Our goal is to "reach the full measure of Christ's fullness" (Ephesians 4,13). As we are reshaped in Jesus' image, the image of God in us is restored and we become what we were created to do.
Perhaps you are not very like Jesus now. That's okay. God already knows about it, and that's why he works with you. If you allow him, he will change you - transform you - so that you become more and more like Christ (2 Corinthians 3,18). It takes patience - but the process fills life with meaning and purpose.
Why does not God accomplish everything in a moment? Because that does not take into account the real, thinking and loving person that you should be after his will. A change of mind and heart, the decision to turn to God and to trust Him may only take a moment, such as deciding to walk down a certain street. But the actual journey along the road takes time and can be full of obstacles and difficulties. In the same way, it takes time to change habits, behaviors and deep-rooted attitudes.
Furthermore, God loves you and wants you to love him. But love is love only when it is given of its own accord, not when it is demanded. Forced love is not love at all.
It is getting better and better
God's purpose for you is not only to be like Jesus 2000 years ago - but also to be as he is now - risen, immortal, filled with glory and power! He will "transform our vain body, that he will immediately become his glorified body according to the strength with which he can submit to all things" (Philippians 3,21). If we have been united with Christ in this life, "we will be like him in the resurrection" (Romans 6,5). "We will be like him," assures Johannes (1 John 3,2).
If we are God's children, Paul writes, then we can be sure "that we will be elevated to glory with him too" (Romans 8,17). We will receive a glory like that of Jesus - bodies that are immortal that never decay, bodies that are spiritual. We will be resurrected in glory, we will be resurrected in force (1 Corinthians 15,42: 44). "And as we have carried the image of the earthly, we will also carry the image of the heavenly" - we will be like Christ! (V.49).
Would you like glory and immortality? God has created you for this purpose! It's a wonderful gift he wants to give you. It is an exciting and wonderful future - and it gives meaning and meaning to life.
When we see the end result, the process we are in now makes more sense. The difficulties, trials and pains in life, as well as the joys, make more sense when we know what life is about. If we know what glory we will receive, the suffering in this life is easier to endure (Romans 8,28). God has given us extraordinarily great and precious promises.
Is there a problem here?
But wait a minute, do you like to think. I will never be good enough for this kind of glory and power. I am just an ordinary person. If heaven is a perfect place, then I do not belong there; my life is messed up.
That's okay - God knows, but he will not let that stop him. He has plans for you, and he has already prepared for such problems so that they can be resolved. Because all people have messed things up; The lives of all people are botched and nobody deserves to receive glory and power.
But God knows how to save people who are sinners - and no matter how many times they mess up everything, he knows how to save them.
God's plan is for Jesus Christ - who was sinless in our stead and suffered for our sins in our stead. He represents us before God and offers us the gift of eternal life if we want to accept it from him.
Part 2: The Gift of God
We all fail, says Paul, but we were justified by the grace of God. It is a present! We can not earn it - God gives us out of His grace and mercy.
People who can cope with life on their own do not have to be saved - it is people who are in trouble that need to be saved. Lifeguards do not "save" people who can swim themselves - they save people who are drowning. Spiritually, we're all drowning. None of us come close to the perfection of Christ, and without it we are practically dead.
Many people seem to think that we have to be "good enough" for God. Let's say we ask some: "What makes you think you are going to heaven or that you will have eternal life in the kingdom of God?" Many would answer: «Because I have been good. I've done this or that. »
The truth is that no matter how much good we have done to earn a place in a perfect world, we will never be "good enough" because we are imperfect. We have failed, but we are justified by God's gift, by what Jesus Christ did for us.
Not by good works
God saved us, says the Bible "not according to our works, but according to his advice and grace" (2 Timothy 1,9). He made us beatified not for the works of justice that we had done, but for his mercy » (Titus 3,5).
Even if our works are very good, they are not the reason why God saves us. We have to be saved because our good works are not enough to save us. We need mercy and grace, and God gives us that through Jesus Christ.
If it were possible for us to earn eternal life through good behavior, then God would have told us how. If obeying commandments could give us eternal life, God would have done it that way, says Paul.
"Because only if there was a law that could bring life, would justice really come from the law" (Galatians 3,21). But the law cannot give us eternal life - even if we could keep it.
"For if justice comes through the law, Christ died in vain" (Galatians 2,21). If people could work their salvation, we would not need a savior to save us. It would not have been necessary for Jesus to come to earth or die and be resurrected.
But Jesus came to earth for that very purpose - to die for us. Jesus said that he came "to give his life a redemption for many" (Matthew 20,28). His life was the payment of a ransom that was given to free and redeem us. The Bible repeatedly shows that "Christ died for us" and that he died "for our sins" (Romans 5,6: 8-2; 5,14 Corinthians 15,3;; Gal
1,4; 2 Thessalonians 5,10).
"The sin pay is death," says Paul in Romans 6,23, "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord". We deserve death, but we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. We do not deserve to live with God because we are not perfect, but God saves us through His Son Jesus Christ.
Descriptions of salvation
The Bible explains our salvation in many ways - sometimes using financial terms, sometimes words referring to victims, family or friends.
The financial term expresses that he paid the price to free us. He took the punishment (the death) we earned on ourselves and paid the debt we owed. He takes our sin and death and gives us his righteousness and life in return.
God accepts Jesus' sacrifice for us (after all, he is the one who sent Jesus to give) and he accepts Jesus' righteousness for us. Therefore, we who once opposed God are now his friends (Romans 5,10).
«He has also reconciled you, who were once alien and hostile to you in evil works, through the death of his mortal body, so that he would put you before his face holy and blameless and flawless» (Colossians 1,21: 22).
Because of Christ's death, we are holy from God's point of view. In God's book, we went from a huge debt to a huge credit - not because of what we did, but because of what God did.
God now calls us his children - he has adopted us (Ephesians 1,5). "We Are God's Children" (Romans 8,16). And then Paul describes the wonderful results of our adoption: "But if we are children, we are also heirs, namely God's heirs and joint heirs of Christ" (V.17). Salvation is described as an inheritance. «He has made you efficient to the inheritance of the saints in the light» (Colossians 1,12).
Because of God's generosity, because of His grace, we will inherit a fortune - we will share the universe with Christ. Or rather, he will share it with us, not because we did anything, but because he loves us and he wants to give it to us.
Receiving by faith
Jesus qualified us; he not only paid the penalty for our sins, but for the sins of all people (1 John 2,2). But many people don't understand that yet. Perhaps these people have not yet heard the message of salvation, or they have heard a distorted version that made no sense to them. For some reason, they didn't believe the message.
It's like when Jesus paid their debts, gave them a huge bank account, but they have not heard of it, or they do not quite believe it, or they do not think they had any debts at all. Or it's like Jesus throwing a big party, and he gives them a ticket, and yet some people choose not to come.
Or they are slaves who work in the dirt, and Jesus comes along and says: "I bought your freedom." Some people don't hear this message, some don't believe it, and some would rather stay in the dirt rather than find out what freedom is. But others hear the message, they believe, and step out of the dirt to see what a new life with Christ might look like.
The message of salvation is received through faith - by trusting Jesus, by taking his word for it, by believing the good news. "Believe in the Lord Jesus, you and your house will be saved" [saved] (Acts 16,31). The gospel is effective for "all who believe in it" (Romans 1,16). If we don't believe in the message, it won't do us much good.
Of course, faith involves more than just believing certain facts about Jesus. The facts have a dramatic impact on us - we must turn away from the life we have created in our own image, and instead turn to God, who has made us in His image.
We should admit that we are sinners, that we do not deserve the right to eternal life, and that we do not deserve to be heirs to Christ. We have to admit that we will never be "good enough" for Heaven - and we have to trust that the ticket Jesus gives us is indeed good enough for us to be at the party. We have to trust that in his death and resurrection he did enough to pay our spiritual debts. We have to trust in his mercy and grace and admit that there is no other way to get in.
A free quote
Let's go back to the meaning of life in our discussion. God says he made us for a purpose, and that purpose is to become like him. We are to be united with God's family, the siblings of Jesus and will receive a share in the family fortune! It is a wonderful purpose and a wonderful promise.
But we didn't do our part. We have not been as good as Jesus - that is, we have not been perfect. Then what leads us to believe that we will also receive the other part of the "business" - eternal glory? The answer is that we have to trust God that he is as merciful and graceful as he claims. He made us for this purpose and he will do it! We can be confident, says Paul, that "he who started the good work in you will also complete it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1,6).
Jesus paid the price and did the work, and His message - the message of the Bible - is that our salvation comes from what He did for us. Experience (as well as the Scriptures) says that we cannot rely on ourselves. Our only hope for salvation, for life, to become what God has made us for is to trust in Christ. We can become like Christ because he who knows all our mistakes and failures says that he will do it!
Without Christ life is meaningless - we are in the dirt. But Jesus tells us that he has bought our freedom, he can cleanse us, he offers us a free ticket for the party and full entitlement to the family fortune. We can accept this offer, or we can turn it off and stay in the dirt.
Part 3: You are invited to the banquet!
Jesus looked like an insignificant carpenter in an insignificant village in an insignificant part of the Roman Empire. But now he is widely regarded as the most significant person who has ever lived. Even unbelievers acknowledge that he gave up his life to serve others, and this ideal of self-sacrificing love reaches into the depths of the human soul, touching the image of God within us.
He taught that people can find a real and full life if they are prepared to give up their own staggering attachment to existence and follow it into the life of the Kingdom of God.
«Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it» (Matthew 10,39).
We have nothing to lose except a pointless life, a frustrating life, and Jesus offers us fulfilling, joyful, exciting and overflowing lives - for all eternity. He invites us to give up pride and concern, and we gain inner peace and joy in the heart.
The way of Jesus
Jesus invites us to join Him in His glory - but the journey to glory requires humility by giving preference to other people. We need to loosen our grip on the things of this life and consolidate our hold on Jesus. If we want to have new life, we have to be ready to let go of the old one.
We were made to be like Jesus. But we do not just copy a respected hero. Christianity is not about religious rituals or even religious ideals. It is about God's love for humanity, his faithfulness to humanity, and his love and faithfulness, which became visible in Jesus Christ in human form.
In Jesus, God demonstrates his grace; He knows that we will never be good enough on our own, no matter how hard we try. In Jesus, God gives us help; He sends the Holy Spirit in Jesus' name to live in us, to change us from the inside to the outside. God shapes us, that we are like Him; we do not try to become like God on our own.
Jesus offers us an eternity of joy. Each person, as a child in the family of God, has a purpose and meaning - an eternal life. We were made for eternal glory, and the way to glory is Jesus, who is himself the way, the truth and life (John 14,6).
For Jesus it meant a cross. He also calls on us to join this part of the trip. "Then he said to all of them: Whoever wants to follow me, deny himself and take his cross on himself every day and follow me" (Luke 9,23). But the cross was resurrected to glory.
A festive banquet
In some stories, Jesus compared salvation to a banquet. In the parable of the prodigal son, the father gave a party for his renegade son, who eventually came home. "Bring the fattened calf and slaughter it; let's eat and be happy! Because this my son was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and found » (Luke 15,23: 24). Jesus told the story to illustrate the point that heaven is happy when someone turns to God (V.7).
Jesus told another parable about a person (who represented God) who "prepared a great sacrament and invited many guests" (Luke 14,16). But surprisingly, many people ignored this invitation. "And they started apologizing to everyone in turn" (V.18). Some were concerned about their money or work; others were distracted by family matters (Vv. 18-20). So the master invited poor people instead (V.21).
So it is with salvation. Jesus invites everyone, but some people are too busy with the things of this world to answer. But those who are "poor", who realize that there are more important things than money, sex, power and fame, are keen to come to celebrate the real life of the Lord's Supper.
Jesus told another story in which he was saved with a man (representing Jesus) who went on a trip. "For it is like a man who went out of the country: he called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them; he gave five quintals of silver to one, the other two, the third one, each according to his ability, and went away » (Matthew 25,14: 15). Money could symbolize several things that Christ gives us; let us consider it here as a representation of the message of salvation.
After a long time, the master came back and asked for settlement. Two of the servants showed that they had achieved something with the master's money, and they were rewarded: "Then his master said to him: Right, you efficient and faithful servant, you have been faithful about little, I want you above much put; go in to your Lord's joy! » (Luke 15,22).
You are invited!
Jesus invites us to share in his happiness, to share with him the eternal pleasures that God has for us. He calls us to be like him, to be immortal, everlasting, glorious and sinless. We will have supernatural power. We will have a vitality, intelligence, creativity, power and love that goes far beyond what we now know.
We can not do this on our own - we have to allow God to do it in us. We have to accept his invitation to get out of the mud and to his solemn banquet.
Have you thought about accepting his invitation? If so, you may not see amazing results, but your life will certainly have a new meaning and purpose. You will find meaning, you will understand where you are going and why, and you will receive new strength, new courage and great peace.
Jesus invites us to a party that lasts forever. Will you accept the invitation?