The Heart of the Gospel

“…God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”  Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”  Acts 2:36-37

Sometimes I think we can fill our life with the framework of Christianity — church, Bible studies, activities and fellowship — and still miss the heart of it all.

The heart of it all is that we messed up our relationship with God. We broke it. We created a gulf of estrangement between us and God.

Think of the times you hurt someone you cared about, how badly you felt. Maybe you can even remember a time when you damaged a relationship so badly that it was almost impossible to repair.

But we didn’t just mess up our relationship with a friend or family member, we offended our GOD. We damaged our relationship with our Creator, the Almighty, the one who has dreams for us, the one who’s given us so many good gifts, the one who loves us unconditionally.

“Against you and you only have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.”  Ps 51:4

You think your sins haven’t been that bad to cause offense? Who has been on the throne in your life? Be honest. Has your life been about you, or about God? Do you come to the Lord on his terms or on your terms? Have you embraced Christ’s mission of seeking and saving the lost? Have you taken care of the needy? Have you lavished God with love as you would someone you dote on, or have you actively given your heart to something else – your job, looking good to others, what you want in life, your comfort and enjoyment?

All  of these areas represent sin, and sin isn’t something God just swats away and everything is fine again. Every action has a consequence, including sin.

For the wages of sin is death… Romans 3:23

The consequences here aren’t just a broken relationship. We’ve gotten ourselves in some deep doo-doo. The result is a death sentence, physically and spiritually.

“What?” you say. “That sounds totally extreme. I’m just human. I’ve just done what everyone does.”

But although God is totally merciful, he is just. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7-8.

So how can we fix things? Actually, there isn’t ANYTHING we can do. No amount of saying we’re sorry and trying to live a good life will close the chasm we’ve opened. In Old Testament times, you could perform a sacrifice, and that would be a temporary solution.

But we need a SAVIOR.  Jesus bore the consequences of our actions. And if you think your actions weren’t that bad, look at the seriousness of the consequences – beaten and whipped to a bloody pulp, tortured with iron spikes between nerve endings, death.

God saved us and gave us a gift – eternal life. He clothed us with the righteousness of Jesus, because we never could be good enough on our own. God fixed the damage once and for all. He restored us to a place in his loving arms.

So this is the heart of Christianity. It’s being keenly aware of our estrangement from God, and ecstatically happy that this estrangement no longer exists. It’s bursting with gratitude for what God did to make things right, when we couldn’t do anything.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.  For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.  Romans 5:6-11

There is much more to the gospel that I can talk about, but I like to keep things simple.

I totally screwed up my relationship with God. He gave up his best to fix it.  Amen.

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Filed under Good news, Grace, Gratitude, Having the Right Heart, Things I Am Learning

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