During one of the Apostle Paul’s missionary trips he entered the Greek city of Berea. There he preached in the synagogue of the Jews. Luke, writing in the book of Acts, points to Paul’s experience there, commending the Jews (17:10-11) for being noble minded. Why? Because they listened to what Paul had to say, and they searched the Scriptures daily to see if what he was saying was true to the Old Testament prophecies. Many, therefore, believed on Jesus as their Messiah because He had fulfilled what God’s Word declared they were to look for regarding their coming Savior.
The New Testament not only contains the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, but it also continually explains and clarifies the fundamental gospel. Let’s start with a verse that for most of us was one of the very first that we learned: John:3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
This verse is loaded with information. First of all it begins with repentance. Although it is not stated directly, it is more than implied. Repentance means turning to God, and one cannot “believeth” in the Son without turning to Him. The verse also gives the “why” (because of God’s love) and the “what” (God the Father sent His Son Jesus) of the gospel. Furthermore, it indicates that those who do not believe in Him will perish. That condition is underscored in John:3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
Dave Hunt, who is now home with the Lord, wrote: “In Hebrews:2:3 the vital question is asked, ‘How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?’ There is no escape. The Bible makes that solemn fact abundantly clear. To reject or add to or take from or otherwise pervert or embrace a substitute for ‘the gospel of God’ is to perpetuate the rebellion begun by Adam and Eve and to leave one eternally separated from God and under His wrath. No wonder Paul wrote, ‘knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…’ (2 Cor:5:11). So must we persuade through the gospel.”
In order to do that effectively we must know it well. This has tremendous benefits, going far beyond being merely an encouragement to witness. For one thing, it strengthens us in the faith for which Jude exhorts us to earnestly contend. It also enables us to be steadfast in the gospel “wherein ye stand” and “by which also ye are saved” (1 Cor:15:1-2). This is all the more important in our day, which Jesus characterized in Matthew 24 as a time of increasing apostasy and deception.
Again, here is more scriptural insight from Dave Hunt: “[The gospel] is simple and precise, leaving no room for misunderstanding or negotiation: ‘…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 Cor:15:3-4). This ‘everlasting gospel’ (Rev:14:6) was promised ‘before the world began’ (2 Tm 1:9) and cannot change with time and culture. There is no other hope for mankind, no other way to be forgiven and brought back to God, except through this ‘strait gate and narrow way’ (Mt 7:13). Any broader road leads to [eternal] destruction. The one true ‘gospel of God’s grace,’ which God offers as our only salvation has three basic elements:
1) Who Christ is—fully God and perfect, sinless man in one person (were He less He couldn’t be our Savior);
2) Who we are—hopeless sinners, already condemned to eternal death (or we wouldn’t need to be saved); and
3) What Christ’s death accomplished—the payment of the full penalty for our sins (any attempt by us to pay in any way rejects the Cross).”
I’m going to share a list that includes various descriptions of the gospel, which is the good news of what Jesus has accomplished in order to save us from an eternity of separation from God forever.
In Acts:16:30, the Philippian jailer cried out, “What must I do to be saved?” The response to that simple question (v. 31) was equally simple: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Notice that nothing in that response even hints at anything other than belief. No good works, no rituals, no sacraments. Nothing but faith—and faith alone.
Ephesians:2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Some are confused by Ephesians:2:10, where it says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works [italics added], which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” They erroneously add good works as a condition of salvation, reading into the verse that we are saved by good works. No, that’s not what it says! It says unto and for good works in the KJV and NKJV. Moreover, that would contradict Ephesians:2:9, which declares that salvation is “not of works.” Moreover, no one can do “good works” that have any eternal value until after he or she is saved.
Most of us, I’m sure, are familiar with the verses I’ve mentioned, but there are many others that we may not think about that also relate to the gospel—literally hundreds more! I don’t know of a greater encourager, a better confidence builder in the faith, along with the experience of a more profound sense of awe and thankfulness for what Jesus has done for us than to simply read and allow these gospel-related verses speak to our hearts and minds. Here are just a few of them:
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts:2:21)
To [Jesus] give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (Acts:10:43)
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… (Rom:5:1)
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Rom:10:8-11)
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Rom:5:10)
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Cor:1:17-18)
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Cor:5:21)
Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father. (Gal:1:3-4)
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal:2:20)
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Eph:1:6-7)
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)… (Eph:2:5)
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us. And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby… (Eph:2:13, 14, 16)
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. (Eph:5:1-2)
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. (Col:1:20-22)
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (1 Thes:5:9-10)
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. (1 Tm 1:15-16)
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he
might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar [special] people, zealous of good works. (Ti 2:13-14)
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Ti 3:3-7)
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit… (1 Pet:3:8)
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince [ruler] of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood… (Rev:1:5)
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation… (Rev:5:9)
Those are just a few of the hundreds presented throughout Scripture. Sometimes there are phrases that jump out at me when I’m searching for other teachings. For example, I may have been looking for verses that encourage discernment among church leaders, such as in Acts:20:28, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God,” and I read “which he hath purchased with his own blood.” Wow! I can’t help being reminded that this is the Creator of the Universe, who became a man, and purchased us—you and me—by paying the full penalty for our sins on the cross!
As Charles Wesley wrote in one of his hymns, “Amazing love, how can it be, that thou my God shouldst die for me?” That, as I mentioned earlier, is so profound a love, and it may take an eternity to plumb its wonderful depths. Yet in this day of pervasive false teaching and skepticism, some would question this, asking, “If Jesus paid the full penalty for the sins of the world, why isn’t everyone saved?” A popular heresy, in fact, brought to us by the book and the movie, The Shack, teaches universalism, the belief that everyone ends up in heaven no matter what.
Christ did indeed pay for every sin, past, present, and future. He “gave himself a ransom for all… ye are bought with a price” (1 Tim:2:6; 1 Cor:7:23). That payment would be like a check that’s made out to each and every individual. It has his or her name on it, but if the check isn’t cashed, it has no value.
The gospel, as mentioned earlier, cannot be received without repentance. That does not mean “cleaning up one’s life” before turning to Jesus. That would be impossible. The lost have no power to do so. Sanctification can only be accomplished after becoming a believer and through the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within every born-again Christian. Repentance simply involves a change of heart, desiring to turn from one’s own way and looking to God in order to do things His way. His way is the only way to be saved. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts:4:12). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (Jn:14:6). Simply believing and receiving what Jesus has done for us is the way that the check may be cashed. This is the way—the only way—for one to receive the free gift of eternal life.
I hope that everyone reading this has understood the fundamental truth of the gospel and has “cashed that check” or is now ready to do so. I pray that if you’ve never humbly given your life to Jesus but realize that He’s been preparing your heart even as you read the words in these Scriptures, that you find that you’re ready to do so now.