Today’s post is a bit longer than what I normally post. You’ll probably need about 10 minutes to be able to read it thoroughly.
This week I’ve been blogging about the reason that Jesus is the only way of salvation. On Monday, I showed that the overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that Jesus Christ alone can give us eternal life, salvation and the hope of heaven as our home. While this demonstrated the truth, it still didn’t explain why. Tuesday we saw that when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden it had lasting consequences for all people born after them. Their sin caused every human to be born spiritually dead, separated from God and resistant to the rule of God. This resulted in all of us taking actions that God calls sin.
Yesterday we saw that sin is defined as breaking God’s Law, the Ten Commandments. We looked at the Ten Commandments and saw that we have indeed sinned and fallen short of God’s standard. This means that we are guilty of sinning against God and we have earned the wages of these sins. The eternal wrath of God will be poured out on all that have sinned. This leaves us in a really bad place. If the story ended there then it would be very bad news. However, the Gospel is the Good News and so there is more for us to know.
What is the Gospel? How is it good news? What about the Gospel shows Jesus as the only way of salvation? Let’s look at these questions individually.
What is the Gospel? “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (NKJV) In these first few verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul plainly and clearly explains the Gospel.
The first thing we are told is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. Christ’s horrific death wasn’t because He was a martyr for the cause. It wasn’t even because he made the wrong people angry. It was because of your sin and mine. The Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Every sin makes the person who committed it deserving of death, every sin. The punishment for sinning against an infinitely holy God isn’t merely physical death or spiritual death it is eternal death. Eternal death is to be cast into hell for all eternity. Revelation calls this the second death (Rev 20:14). The horrors of hell show us the terrible wrath of God against sin. It was this wrath that Christ took in our place.
Jesus endured the wrath of God in our place until He cried out, “It is finished.” (Jn 19:30) He was then taken down off the cross and laid in a tomb. What did He mean when He said, “It is finished”? God’s wrath had been fully satisfied and the penalty for the sins of the world had been fully paid. Now forgiveness for sins was possible.
How can we be sure that Jesus’ death on the cross really did satisfy God’s wrath against sin and make salvation possible? After all, the Romans crucified Jews nearly every day during their rule over Judea. Thousands of Jews were crucified during the time of Christ. How can we be sure that Jesus wasn’t just another Jew that the Romans crucified?
Paul answers that when he says that Jesus was buried and that He rose again on the third day. The resurrection of Christ is the greatest proof that He died for our sins and not as a martyr for the cause. The fact of the matter is that Jesus’ death on the cross would have no significance whatsoever if it wasn’t for His resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection declares in a powerful way that He is the Son of God who died for the sins of the world and now offers redemption to all who would believe on Him.
This is the Gospel. If I were to summarize the Gospel into one sentence, I would say that the Gospel is the message that God redeems men through faith in the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.
How is it good news? The Gospel is good news because it tells me that Jesus has fully satisfied God’s just wrath against my sin. The Gospel is also good news because it tells me that God offers grace and mercy through faith in Jesus Christ. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. God’s mercy is seen in two ways.
The first is that He withholds His judgment for a period of time. If God wasn’t merciful, we would be judged for our sins the very moment we committed them. The second is that God offers us a way of escaping His judgment through the grace that is revealed in the Gospel of Christ. In a sense, you could almost picture it as God standing between you and the wrath that is coming. With one hand, He is holding back His wrath and with His other hand, He is reaching out to grab you and pull you out of the way of His wrath and onto the path of His salvation.
The Gospel is good news because it tells us that God loved us enough to send Jesus to die for our sins (Jn 3:16, Rom 5:8). If ever a doubt should arise in our minds about whether God loves us, all we have to do is remember the cross where Jesus died. The cross reminds us that God hasn’t loved us in words only. No, God has loved with deeds that demonstrate and prove His love for us. God demonstrated His love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us
What about the Gospel shows Jesus as the only way of salvation? The Gospel tells us that our sins can be forgiven and we can be saved from the terrible and just wrath of God. The big issue that separates us from God is sin. The big issue that causes us to suffer the wrath of God is sin. Any offer of redemption and eternal life must give an answer to the problem of sin. The Gospel of Jesus Christ does this.
On the cross, Jesus bore the wrath of God against our sin. When we believe on Jesus, His death on the cross is accounted as the punishment for our sins. Through this God’s justice has been satisfied in that our sin has been punished. At the same time, when I believe on Jesus, the righteousness of Jesus is credited to my account and God then declares me to be righteous because of Jesus. At this point, I am saved and have eternal life.
We must recognize that this doesn’t happen automatically and it doesn’t happen for all people. It only happens for those who trust in Jesus for their salvation. Listen to how Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius explains this. “Faith, and faith only, (though there is no faith alone without works,) is imputed for righteousness. By this alone are we justified before God, absolved from our sins, and are accounted, pronounced and declared righteous by God, who delivers his judgment from the throne of grace.”
God offers salvation and eternal life but it is only found through Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins. The reason that Christ is the only way is because He is the only one who died for sins. While other religions may seem to offer salvation and eternal life, it is only an illusion because only Christ can save us from the justly deserved wrath of God.
 Complete Works of Arminius, Under: “JUSTIFICATION”.