3) REDEMPTION: JESUS COMES TO SAVE US
Every good story has a hero. And the hero of the Gospel Story is Jesus. Humanity needs a Savior, a Redeemer, a Deliverer to free us from the bondage and condemnation of sin and to restore the world to its original good. This Rescuer must be truly human in order to pay the debt we owe to God. But he can’t be merely human because he must conquer sin. We need a Substitute – one who can live the life of obedience we’ve failed to live, and who can stand in our place to bear the punishment we deserve for our disobedience and sin.
This is why God sent Jesus into the world to be our substitute (1 John 4:14). The Bible teaches that Jesus was fully God – the second person of the Trinity – and also fully human. He was born to a human mother, lived a real flesh-and-blood existence, and died a brutal death on a Roman cross outside Jerusalem. Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to God (Hebrews 4:15), making him the only person in history who did not deserve judgement. But on the cross, he took our place, dying for our sin. He received the condemnation and death we deserve so that, when we put our trust in him, we can receive the blessing and life he deserves (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Not only did Jesus die in our place, he rose from death, displaying his victory over sin, death, and hell. His resurrection is a decisive event in history the Bible calls it the “first fruits” – the initial evidence – of the cosmic renewal God is bringing (1 Corinthians 15:20-28). One of the greatest promises in the Bible is Revelation 21:5: “Behold, I am making all things new.” All that was lost, broken, and corrupted in the fall will ultimately be put right. Redemption doesn’t simply mean the salvation of individual souls; it means the restoring of the whole creation back to its original good.
4) A NEW PEOPLE: THE STORY CONTINUES
So how do we become a part of the story? How do we experience God’s salvation personally and become agents of his redemption in the world? By faith or trust (Ephesians 2:8-9). What does that mean? We trust a taxi driver when we count on him to get us to our destination. We trust a doctor when we agree with her diagnosis and entrust ourselves to her care. And we trust in Jesus Christ when we admit our sin, receive his gracious forgiveness, and rest entirely in Jesus for our acceptance before God. Faith is like getting in the taxi. It’s like going under the surgeon’s knife. It is a restful, whole-hearted commitment of the self to Jesus (Psalm 31:14-15). This is what it means to believe the gospel.
When we trust in Jesus, we are released from sin’s condemnation and from its bondage. We are free to say “no” to sin and “yes” to God. We are free to die to ourselves and life for Christ and his purposes. We are free to work for justice in the world. We are free to stop living for our own glory and start living for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). We are free to love God and others in the way we live.
God has promised that Jesus will return to finally judge sin and make all things new. Until then, he is gathering to himself a people “from every nation, tribe, people, and language” (Revelation 7:9). As part of that called-and-sent people, we have the privilege of joining him in his mission (Matthew 28:18-20) as individuals and as part of his spiritual family. By grace, we can enjoy God, live life for his glory, serve humanity, and make his gospel known to others through our words and actions.
This is the good news – the True Story – of the gospel.