Brothers and Sisters,

I love First Baptist for many reasons, but one major reason is because I get to raise my family in this healthy church. We talk all the time about how church success is not measured by numbers or buildings or programs, but rather by health. One of the marks of a healthy church is a biblical understanding of the gospel. Therefore, as a church, we must continue to press in with clarity what the gospel is and what it is not.
What the gospel is NOT
The gospel is not: “God loves you,” or, “Be good,” or “Act right,” or, “Everything is going
to be ok,” or, “God helps those who help themselves,” or, “God is love,” or, “Everything happens for a reason.” Some of those statements are true and are certainly part of the gospel, but they are not the gospel. One of the great lies of the enemy is that good people go to heaven. So one of the great tasks of the church is to lovingly remind people they’re not good. That may sound cold or harsh, but it’s actually loving, not to mention, it’s the very thing the Bible tells us. Jesus said that you must be perfect as your Heavenly Father
is perfect (Matthew 5:48). God’s perfect standard is revealed in the Ten Commandments, which we’ve all broken to some extent (Romans 3:23). James says that if you stumble at one part of the Law, you’re guilty of breaking the whole Law (James 2:10). God says that even our righteous acts are filthy rags to Him (Isaiah 64:6). Paul says, the Law is our tutor to show us our need for Christ (Galatians 3:24). Therefore, the first step to understanding and embracing the gospel is to acknowledge that you are not good (Romans 3:10-12). But the next step is to acknowledge what God has done for us through his son, Jesus.
What the gospel IS
God, being holy, made us in his image to rightly reflect him and multiply his glory on earth. We didn’t do that. Instead, we sinned, and we trusted in something or someone else other than God. Because God is just, he will extend a punishment that meets our crime. Because the crime is infinitely horrible, the punishment will be infinitely horrible. Because God
is merciful, he sent his only son, Jesus, who is fully God and fully man. He lived a perfect life, thus fulfilling the law in himself. He died on a cross, thus taking on the punishment
we deserve. He rose again proving that he completed the payment for sin. Now he
calls all men everywhere to repent and believe in him. If we turn from our sin and trust in Christ alone for salvation, we will be saved from the punishment we deserve, given the righteousness of Christ, adopted by God as sons, empowered to live a life that increasingly reflects the character of God, and given the promise of eternal life with God and other believers in heaven. If we do not turn to Jesus, then the wrath of God remains on us and there is no hope, only a fearful expectation of eternal judgment.
The question we must ponder is, “Do I believe this?” In other words, “Am I really trusting only in Jesus and his finished work on the cross?” If so, rejoice and give God glory. If you’re unsure, please contact the church office and set up an appointment with one of the pastors on staff. Your eternity hinges on what you do with the gospel, for “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
- Pastor Ben

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