Now, as we progress towards a defining of the true, Biblical Gospel, we need to make sure and find our bearings first. That is to say: we need to make certain we understand the context in which we find the Gospel – otherwise it is a stumbling block at best, or foolishness at worst.
Without the proper context, the Gospel is irrelevant.
Imagine This Scenario
Consider the disease Guimaliro. A very deadly and sad disease, for sure. Our hearts should go out to everyone who suffers with it, and of course it is important to be checked yearly as it may affect anyone, at any time, and needs to be caught early in order to reduce the chance of death within 3 years of contracting it – though the survival rate never goes above 5 years.
Oh, just in passing: this disease does not exist.
Thankfully, scientists have been working tirelessly for the past 50 years to produce a cure for this disease. For the first time in that span, it genuinely appears that a cure has been found. It works in 100% of test cases, completely clearing all signs and symptoms of the disease within a matter of minutes of administration. The FDA is now in the final stages of approval, and the cure should be available to the general public by the end of the year.
Exciting, huh? No one will ever have to suffer from Guimaliro again, nor have it claim their life! Doesn’t that just make your whole week?
Of course it doesn’t. A cure for a condition that doesn’t afflict, affecting a population that doesn’t suffer, from a disease that doesn’t exist is just pointless and absurd. It’s a crock, and does not deserve anyone’s time or thoughts.
But what if instead a cure had been found for the very real pancreatic cancer – one of the most aggressive and deadly forms of cancer in existence? Suddenly there is relief for those afflicted. Suddenly there is joy for families who will not have to watch as the disease takes their loved ones away. Suddenly there is gratitude from all who have ever been involved in a case of pancreatic cancer, and a hope for the future previously lost.
So we see this: that in the first scenario where the disease does not exist, the prospect of a cure having been found is irrelevant. Even idiotic.
But in the second scenario where the disease DOES exist, and claims the lives of a great many people at that, the prospect of a cure having been found is a joyous, important, and amazing thing.
In both cases a cure was found, so what was the difference that made one a great thing and the other… pointless? Context. One was in the context of a non-existent disease, the other in the context of a disease that claims hundreds of lives a year.
Now, you probably don’t have pancreatic cancer, but you still have a disease. An inherited one. One that everyone you know, indeed everyone who has ever lived, also has. And here’s the thing…
You are terminal.
The Wages of Sin is Death
That’s exactly right. I said it. You. Are. A. SINNER.
You have done what you ought not have done. You have broken and twisted and abused the righteous standards of God. You have impaled yourself on the just and right Law of God, which stands over you and condemns you.
You are dead in your trespasses. Completely, stone cold dead.
Now, this is the part where, if I’m going to do this right, I’ve gotta bring out the Law. May the Holy Spirit convict you, because none of what I’m going to say in my next few posts in this series of defining the Gospel will apply to you otherwise. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is only for sinners.
Hear what the Apostle says:
“…do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
– 1st Corinthians 6:9-10
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
– Galatians 5:19-21
But maybe you don’t see yourself as fitting into any of these categories. After all, this is the group that many of us see and go, “oh, that’s the really bad people. Me? I toe the line pretty darn well.”
But truly, how do you fare against the Ten Commandments? Be honest, now. And keep this in mind: that Jesus taught that whoever looks at another with lust in his eye is an adulterer, even if they have not slept with someone to whom they are not married.
Likewise, everyone who hates another is a murderer, regardless of whether the daggers came from his hands, or his eyes. And don’t try to squirm out and say that you don’t fall to this. “Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.” – Ecclesiastes 7:22
So what, then? Am I any different? Is anyone?
“We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
– Isaiah 64:6
“God looks down from heaven
on the children of man
to see if there are any who understand,
who seek after God.
“They have all fallen away;
together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
not even one.”
– Psalm 53:2-3
No, I am no different, nor is anyone. Not at all. Because:
“Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”
– Ecclesiastes 7:20
But don’t take comfort in the fact that you are not the only sinner in the world; the penalty is not any less for you just because your brother practices the same evil you do. Being able to say, “But he did it too!” does not make an eternity in Hell more bearable. No, it just makes this temporal life more miserable.
What Does This Mean?
Sin is the disease. The Gospel of Christ Jesus, rightly preached and understood, is the cure.
This post’s purpose has been to get you thinking about that – thinking about what a fallen, corrupt wretch you are. It is to hopefully point out that this is a condition that you of yourself can do nothing to affect your own healing of because, in reality, the disease has already killed you. You are powerless against it and, without a Savior, you will stay infected… and dead.
So again, this post is merely a primer, but a necessary one. After all, if you don’t think you have the disease, then what use is the cure? In the same way, someone who is secure in their sin, who “doesn’t think it’s a big issue” is ignorant of the disease, and thus it will be impossible for them to rejoice in the cure.
You may be surprised at how many people have lost their sense of sin. However without an understanding of our own depravity, the Gospel of the forgiveness of that depravity through the shed blood of Jesus Christ loses its beauty, its relevance, and, if it were possible, its power.
One Last Note
Now, the next installment will begin to delve into the beautiful cure that is the Gospel. In the meantime, read the Scriptures. Dwell on God’s Law. Understand that you have broken it time, and time, and time again, and that the just penalty for this is being cast into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Then, go to Church in the morning to hear the Gospel preached to heal your stricken soul.
But understand this: if your Pastor does not preach the forgiveness of sins in the name of Jesus Christ (as, I have noted before, is being replaced in many pulpits with a false gospel of “ten steps to being a better, more successful person”) at your service tomorrow, he has done you a disservice and failed in his office.
In that case: find another church.