As we focus on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, we realize again the central place of the gospel.
The word gospel means “good news.” But what good news? It is not good news about the possibility of a better lifestyle or how to solve life’s problems, not even about shaking off a guilty complex and feeling good. It is about a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a combination of who Christ is and what He did.
As Paul writes in 1 Cor. 15:2-4, “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day…”
The good news is about God’s giving nature. Father God loved the world so much that He gave His Son.
- He gave Him in His birth, as the God-man, in order that He might be forever with us.
- He gave Him in His death on the cross as a sacrifice and payment, in order to take away our sin and release us from the curse.
- He gave Him in His resurrection and ascension, in order to arrange for our victory, as our High Priest and Intercessor, over all the powers of darkness.
- He gave Him in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in order to live within us.
In short, the Father gave the Son in His love and grace. Jesus’ love for the Father was so complete that He surrendered to the Father and willingly gave Himself to us and for us.
Jesus was not only given to us, but He gave Himself for us in a number of specific ways. Speaking of this mighty, Redeemer, the New Testament says that He gave Himself:
- “… gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil…” (Gal.1:4)
- “… gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice…” (Eph. 5:2)
- “… gave Himself up for the church to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her (the church) to Himself…” (Eph. 5:25)
- “… gave Himself as a ransom for all man…” (1 Tim. 2:6)
- “… gave Himself or us to redeem us from all wickedness and purify for Himself a people..” (Titus 2:14)
“He gave Himself…” – the more I understand, believe and receive this, the more I give myself to Him. His giving of Himself makes an impression and impact on me, and through the cleansing of my sin by His blood, I become a partaker of His divine nature. When I first receive Him, I am born into the family of God. By His grace, I become a new creation in Christ Jesus. That transaction gives me a new Father, a new Savior, a new Captain, a new Physician, a new Comforter, a new Guide, a new Teacher, new truth and a new heart to receive all that the gospel promises.
Many additional blessings come with that new heart. It brings within a renewed mind, new grace, new hope, new peace, new joy, a new outlook on life, and new purpose for living and being, because the gospel has power to bring change. That change is reflected in a new gentleness, a new kindness and a new love. This new life brings with it a new power, a new protection, a new message, a new responsibility, a new rest and a new shout of victory.
As our walk with Jesus unfolds, let us never forget the delight of being a Christian is not merely to receive good things from God or to be the recipients of His blessings. That alone would be sufficient to bring unspeakable joy. But Father God goes far beyond the giving of things. When we are born again, we receive Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, in all His fullness. “The Gift that keeps on giving…” He doesn’t only give us peace; He is our peace (Eph 2:14). He is our life (Col. 3:4). He is our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification and our entire redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). All that we have and are is because we are ‘“in Christ.” We received a Person!
Receive Him then, not only the risen Savior, but as your Lord, that He might express His Kingdom in your life. Let the Holy Spirit teach you how to live, led and guided by Him, so Jesus, who is alive in you (once you are born again), may shine through your life and be glorified.