The only holy and righteous God, who speaks through the Bible, has news for us. He has both bad news and good news – and He gives us the bad news first. He describes how He created everything in the world and made our first parents, Adam and Eve, in His image so that they could know Him, enjoy Him, and glorify Him (Genesis 1:1, 2:7; Isaiah 43:7). Then He describes how they sinned by disobeying Him in the Garden of Eden and consequently lost the ability to know Him, enjoy Him, and glorify Him (Genesis 3:6-24; Romans 3:10-18)). Their sin separated them from Him because His holiness requires Him to judge and condemn sin (Isaiah 59:2; Habakkuk 1:13a; Romans 1:18).
This wasn’t just bad news for them. It is also bad news for us. That’s because their sin infected all of their offspring and became an inherited human trait (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:22a). Every human being who has lived on this earth was born a sinner. We all come into this world under the curse of God’s holy and righteous wrath and with no ability to know, enjoy and glorify Him (Romans 3:10-18). Now, if we think that being a sinner can’t be all that bad if all human beings are in the same boat ... or that we can somehow make things right with God on our own ... the news gets worse.
Sin comes with a penalty that must be paid – and paying that penalty will destroy us. The penalty is the full expression of God’s righteous wrath against our sin (John 3:36b; Romans 1:18; Ephesians 5:6). God’s wrath against sin is expressed by punishing sinners with death, which the Bible defines as eternal separation from God in a place of eternal torment called Hell (Psalm 9:17; Ezekiel 18:4; Matthew 10:28; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Bad news indeed! Sinners would be without hope in this world had not God, in His love, mercy, and grace, made a way for the penalty to be paid by Someone Else on our behalf. That’s the good news.
You see, God is not only holy and righteous, He is also loving, gracious, and merciful (Micah 7:18; Ephesians 2:4-7). He sent the Second Person of the Trinity, His Son Jesus Christ, into this world to live a perfectly righteous life on our behalf (1 Corinthians 1:30) and to bear all of God’s righteous wrath against all of our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus could do this for us because He was born free of sin’s stain, lived without transgressing God’s law, and never incited God’s righteous wrath (Hebrews 4:15). Sinners who place their trust in Him are credited with His perfect Law-keeping and fully forgiven for all their sins (Romans 4:5-8; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 2:13-14).
The penalty for sins committed against God by those who trust Him was paid-in-full by Jesus Christ. This happened when He absorbed all of God‘s righteous wrath against our sins on a Roman cross outside Jerusalem (Galatians 3:13). God affirmed that He was fully satisfied with what Jesus Christ had done on our behalf by raising Him from the dead (Romans 4:25). Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus ascended to Heaven where God seated Him at His right hand, the position of authority (Ephesians 1:19b-22). From there Jesus Christ poured forth the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:32-33), who on the Day of Pentecost came to indwell all those who trust Him (Acts 2:1-4). Since then, all Christians have been equipped and empowered by God’s Spirit to love, enjoy, and glorify God (Romans 8:3-4; Galatians 5:25).
The Gospel is not an announcement that God’s wrath against sin has been satisfied by what Christ has done so we can all relax and enjoy ourselves on this earth. Rather it is a summons, a command ignored at great peril, to repent and place our faith in what Christ has done on our behalf (Acts 17:30-31). Repentance is an active response to conviction of sin (Job 42:1-6). It acknowledges that we have fallen short of God’s righteous standard, that we stand under His just wrath, and that we are unable to make ourselves right with Him (Acts 2:37-38).
Biblical repentance doesn’t view sin as a social concept, but as a theological one. It does not see sin as a general term covering our mistakes, shortcomings, failures, inadequacies, and bad choices. Rather, biblical repentance sees sin as God’s inclusive word for the whole ugly array of offences against Him that disrupt our relationship with Him (Isaiah 59:2). Biblical repentance admits that we have broken God’s Law, offended His holiness, flouted His authority, defied His commands, and put ourselves at cross-purposes with Him (James 4:6-10). Biblical repentance recognizes that we desperately need cleansing from our guilt and defilement (Acts 3:19); and it knows we can’t do that ourselves (Ephesians 2:1-3). So biblical repentance turns from love of sin and dependence on self to a merciful God and His gracious provision (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
We place our faith in what Jesus Christ has done for us when we rely on His substitutionary atonement for sin as our only means of being made right with God. We acknowledge that no amount of good works can “make up” for our sin because God’s Law requires perfect obedience. We accept with deep gratitude that Christ’s righteousness has been credited to us. We rejoice in full forgiveness and yearn to serve God wholeheartedly. We learn that believers in Christ are new creations, indwelt by His Spirit, alive to His Truth, eager to love Him, given to enjoying Him, and consumed with giving Him glory. Responding to the Gospel in repentance and faith stops us in our hell-bent tracks, turns us completely around, and sets our course toward Heaven. It halts our pursuit of the false gods of this world and enlists us in the service of the only true God.
If you would like to talk with a Christian about responding to the Gospel in repentance and faith, we at Heritage Christian Fellowship are eager to hear from you. You may call the church office (505) 323-0557 or contact us via email.