There’s a lot of religious lingo in our culture today – and Christianity is no exception to that statement. Christians use phrases such as “being in Christ” a phrase that I use often as well, and even borrowed it for the title of today’s study. Some others are “saved” and “redeemed”,”sanctified / holy”, even “eternal life”. We use these words, but do we really have an understanding of what they truly mean?
If we don’t know the meaning of words, the message falls flat… if I’m speaking another language, one that you don’t know, the message of what I am saying will be lost to you.
Even the word “Gospel” has lost it’s meaning to people today. The word comes from the phrase “God Spel” meaning “good news”. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed good news, even better than what we have come to make it out to be most of the time. God has done something greater than what we can even imagine. And it is the good news for us to receive; but many have not been receiving because the message has been lost. This is what what we will be studying today.
So let’s start at the beginning… Good News. What is good news? Well, it’s the opposite of bad news. No-one would say, gee, it’s good news that I got into a car accident today! Or, wow! That’s great news about that earthquake destroying cities! No, neither of those things are good news.
On the other hand, it is good news if you owed money to the bank, and the debt was eliminated. If you owed a million dollars in debt, and someone came and paid your debt for you, that would be good news. To find out that what you owed, suddenly had been paid and you were now debt free.
How about a broken relationship being restored. A reconciled relationship… a restored bond between lovers. That would certainly be some good news as well. This brings us to our first point today… because if you are familiar with the Genesis account of Adam and Eve, a relationship was lost in that Garden of Eden. A relationship with God was broken the moment that the fruit of the tree of knowledge was eaten. God told Adam in Genesis 2:17, that the day that he eats of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he would surely die and God was speaking primarily of Adam’s spirit. Adam kept on living in his body for years – but the very moment he ate the fruit of that tree, his spirit died, and he was severed from the relationship with God. That is true spiritual death. And as a result, all of the effects of sin, all sickness, all infirmities, all death (spiritual and physical) came into the world.
That’s bad news, now here’s the good news – the relationship that was lost, all those years ago, has been restored. And this brings us a couple of the jargon words that I mentioned in the opening: everlasting life and saved.
You may be familiar with the most famous verse in the Bible… John 3:16 – people would even hold-up signs with that verse reference on it at football and baseball games. And while it is indeed famous, not many people truly have taken time to comprehend the message of the verse, nor the verse that immediately follows it. Here’s John 3:16-17:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
You see, a vital point for us to notice here is that while the relationship was severed way back in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve’s disobedience, God never stopped loving us – not even for a moment. And we can see that He didn’t just love us from a distance, but He took steps to restore what was lost.
For God so loved the world, that He gave… Around this time, people celebrate, Christmas, Hanukkah, and a number of other celebrations where gifts are given and received. Well here is one gift given that every single person should believe and receive, and that is in the giving of Jesus Christ. And it was not a gift given with no purpose. Notice the purpose is clearly stated: that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
So the death that Adam brought though the eating of the wrong fruit in the Garden of Eden is not your inescapable destiny anymore. The relationship that was severed back then is not doomed forever; your spirit, which was dead, now has the opportunity for new life. How does it come? Look at verse 17:
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
So through Jesus Christ, the world can be saved. And it’s this through Him part, where most Christians are missing it as well. You see most people are trying to reach for God, they’re trying to serve Him – I can’t even tell you how many Christians I’ve talked to who are trying to live for Jesus – and that is a trap, because the scripture doesn’t say that you’re saved by living for Him… it says that you’re saved through Him. Do you understand… the burden really isn’t on you, the burden was laid on Jesus, and that happened long ago, before you were even born. Again, you don’t need to take my word for it, turn to 1st John 4:7-9:
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.
He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”
And I want you to see the way that these verses start, because there’s something you need to know… it starts off with Beloved, that’s you… you are the beloved of God. Do you see a pattern here that God wants you to know… For God so loved the world… you… Beloved. The love of God is being showered upon you by God Himself. He wants you to know and understand that you are loved. And verses 7 and 8 make it clear that God and love cannot be separated, they are one and the same. God is love. Then in verse 9… take a look at what it says, again re-enforcing the point from John 3:16 and 17, the very love of God, was manifested (or made known, demonstrated) to us in this way, because God sent His Son [Jesus} into the world, that we might live through Him.
So what is living through Him, exactly? Take a look at verse 10:
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
And take notice that the verse starts by saying, Here is love! It’s pointing it out, here it is! Not that we loved God, but that He loved us. This is opposite to what most churches teach. Most churches today, teach that you need to love God before He will love you… and a lot of people get stuck on the treadmill of trying to love God enough, to get His attention or to earn His favor… But honestly, you can get off of the treadmill now because that’s not the truth. The truth is that God loved you first, He loved you long before you were even born! How could He do that, you ask? Well He is God, and He is outside of linear time!
The rest of verse 10 says that, He became the propitiation for our sins, and that is just an old English way of saying, that he paid our debt., this is good news remember. Your debt before God has been paid, your relationship to God has been restored. Your spirit which was dead can be made alive.
Now about this eternal life. I want to show you one more interesting thing before we end today… and that is eternal life. Most Christians believe that Jesus came so that you could pray a prayer, and then you get to go to heaven when you die, and they call that eternal life. Do you know that is not what the Bible says? Jesus tells us what eternal life really is in John 17:3:
“And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
Take a good look at what Jesus said here… This is life eternal. To pray a prayer and go to heaven one day? No.
To know the one true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
That is eternal life. To know the one true God. To have your relationship restored, to have unbroken, and unhindered fellowship with God. To receive His love and be filled with the joy and peace that can only come from knowing Him. That is life, that is abundant life, and that is eternal life.
Jesus did not come just so that you could pray a prayer and go to heaven when you die. He came to restore you back to Himself, that His Spirit could come back into you, so that you would never perish but be saved and live through Him. And as you receive His love and you truly know that you are the beloved of God… you express and share that love with others – we read that today too. So you end up living every day in the love of God, with His love for you, and sharing that love with others.
If most people are honest, their lives are not the way I just described to you… I’ve had people say if only I could feel the love of God… then I would know. But, it’s not really about feelings, it’s about believing, it’s about knowing. Feelings change from moment to moment, but truth is forever. He already demonstrated His love for you by sending Jesus to save you. Now it’s time to receive the gift.
The very reason you are here today, reading this message, is because the gift is being presented to you. And the only thing you need to do to open and receive the gift, is to believe. I was on my deathbed in the ICU of a hospital, when the love of God was presented to me, and a way was made for me to have relationship with God… and I simply said “I want that” – there was no formality, there was no ritual there was no waiting period or requirement. That’s the beauty of God, and that’s His love for each of us. He loves you, and He has made a way for you right here, right now. If you want Him, just tell Him right now in your own words. You are not telling me, or anyone else. Just you and Him. Romans 10:8-9:
“The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. “
This is the love of God for you. Live in Love, Live in Jesus.