Section 6: Salvation – Part 1
Week 3: Conversion – Turning to Christ in Faith
Day 2: What Is the Gospel?
I have a tendency to talk too much. In fact, I’ve been known to go on and on about subjects even when no one is particularly interested. I know what you’re thinking, “What?!!? You? No!” It’s true though. So much so, Jeni often ends a question with, “I need the two-minute answer.” What is she looking for? A miracle to be sure… but more specifically she wants me to boil everything down to the bare essentials. She needs some basic information, but doesn’t have time for a master’s level course on the subject.
The same can be said about the subject of salvation. We saw yesterday that people need to hear the gospel in order to be saved. What is the gospel exactly though? The word itself simply means good news and in its broadest sense refers to everything God has done for us. More narrowly, it typically refers to the basic knowledge a person needs in order to come to saving faith in Christ. So, in that narrower sense, let’s take a look at what the gospel message includes.
An Explanation of Our Need
In order to turn to Christ for salvation, a person needs to have some idea of what they need to be saved from. The gospel, therefore, includes an explanation that we all have sinned and are, therefore, under God’s judgment, which amounts to eternal punishment in hell (Rom. 3:23, 6:23, Rev. 20:11-15).
A Summary of What Christ Has Done for Us
In order to turn to Christ, people also need to understand that Christ is able to save them from the judgment they deserve. The gospel, therefore, also includes a summary of what Christ has done, namely that he died to pay the penalty for our sins and rose again so that we could have eternal life (Rom. 5:6-11).
The Necessity of Turning to Christ
The Bible makes it clear that Christ’s death doesn’t automatically save any of us. Although his death paid the penalty for our sins, we need to accept the gift of that payment by putting our faith in Christ and what he has done to save us, rather than ourselves. The gospel, therefore, also includes a statement about the necessity of turning to Christ in faith.
An Invitation to Respond in Faith
The above amounts to the basic knowledge someone needs in order to be saved. But salvation requires more than knowledge. In addition to understanding what Christ has done for us, we have to take the actual step of putting our trust in him. As a result, the gospel typically also includes an invitation to respond. That’s why Peter closed his speech to the people in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost this way:
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Summarize the gospel in your own words.
Do you feel confident in your ability to share the gospel? If not, why not? What do you think you need in order to gain more confidence in that area?