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“The Gospel” literally means “the good news.” Obviously this should be something to be received with joy, yet often it is taught with words and symbols that instill fear, condemnation, or confusion in those who are meant to receive it. People are often told to “repent or they will go to hell” or to “just accept Jesus in your heart.” The first is an attempt at control while the second is confusing.

People who think they have come to the Lord to avoid hell have been done an injustice. You cannot claim salvation through fear because God knows a person’s motivation. Salvation can be chosen but you have to first be willing to accept it. Fear of damnation is not a willing acceptance.

People who have been told “Just accept Jesus in your heart” are left confused. They often relate they went through the motions but left confused. What does “accept Jesus in your heart” mean? If a person cannot define what this is then they have no business preaching it.

The Gospel is simple and should be taught simply. I prefer to teach it in three steps. First, teaching why man needs salvation, followed by how it is possible, and finally an explanation of how it is received.

Why do we need salvation?

Genesis tells us God created Adam in His image. Among other things, this means Adam was created to be the ruler of this world. Adam was given dominion of the world and told to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” The only thing forbidden was to eat of “the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil.”

Genesis also introduces our enemy Lucifer, an archangel. He is referred to in Genesis as a serpent. Lucifer was created perfect and was beautiful in appearance. His perfection led to pride and envy of God and His creation. This envy, along with a desire to be worshiped led Lucifer to deceive the woman.

Lucifer asked the woman “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “ From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” (This was what she believed to be true, she believed she could not touch it. God had commanded Adam not to eat from the tree before Woman was created.)

Lucifer deceived the woman by telling her that she would not die but that God was trying to keep her in ignorance. The woman ate and gave of the fruit to Adam as well. It is important to notice that Adam had not been deceived. He knew exactly what he was doing. By disobeying God and being obedient to Lucifer, Adam gave dominion of the world over to Lucifer.

In Genesis three God reveals the consequences of what all three have done:

The LORD God said to the serpent,

“ Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life; and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Notice there is no mention of Adam, it was the woman who was wronged and it was her seed that would bring justice.)

To the woman He said,

“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (This is the reason we are not to have sex outside of marriage. This desire is brought forth through sexual experience and bonds a woman to a man. This was the consequence of tempting Adam. )

Then to Adam He said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;

Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Adam’s consequence is the most severe and it is from this we inherit the self-centered nature of our flesh. You will notice in the Bible that inheritance is passed along through the father.)

It is from Adam choosing to willfully disobey God that we inherit sin. No matter how well intentioned we are or how well we behave we still need salvation based on the sins of our forefathers.

How is salvation possible?

Lucifer, Woman, and Adam all received the natural consequences of their actions. There was not yet a law for them to break. God gave the Law to Israel through Moses. This law was given not to provide a means of salvation, but to allow man the opportunity to throw up his hands and cry out for mercy and grace.

The Law of Moses is a moral and ethical code God gave mankind to show them the difference between good and evil. A difference no one really understood since the fall. The law provides for sacrifices that can be given for atonement for the nation for the upcoming year and also sacrifices for an individual accidentally breaking the law during the year. There are no sacrifices for an individual intentionally breaking the law. This led to the law being impossible to keep. As a result God began to reveal salvation through the prophets.

Prophecy after prophecy was given of a messiah, a king that would save Israel and rule over all the nations in peace. There are many prophecies that lead us to the identity of the messiah. So many that it would be impossible to mistake who he was. One such prophecy foretells that a virgin will give birth to a male child.

Because she was deceived God’s curse on the serpent said seed of Woman would crush the serpents head. Since sin is inherited through the father this is an important prophecy. A woman called Mary, a virgin, did give birth to a male child. Since the child had no human father and his father was God he did not carry the burden or the curses of inherited sin. This child was named Jesus.

The Gospel of John records that the Word became flesh. Jesus was not only the son and heir of God, but was God, our creator, born in human flesh. No longer omnipotent, (Joseph had to flee with baby Jesus to Egypt to protect him from Herod). No longer omnipresent, (he was born in a human body). No longer omniscient, (he grew in knowledge and wisdom.)

Like Adam and the woman Jesus was tempted. The Gospels record only three temptations, but the epistles reveal He was tempted in every way possible. It is important to understand, He was tempted as a man. This means there was a possibility for failure. If not He could not redeem mankind. He was tempted, He resisted, and overcame the temptations.

Satan (the fallen Lucifer) arranged (through men) to have Jesus falsely accused, humiliated, tortured, hung up on a cross, and put to death. By being tempted and overcoming, then being falsely accused, humiliated, tortured, hung on a cross, and killed. Jesus reclaimed the rights Adam had lost. As the heir of God He had dominion of the heavens, now he reclaimed the dominion of the earth as well. Having the authority of God, He a means for man to claim adoption through Him. When Satan orchestrated the death of a perfect and sinless man on false charges redemption was made possible.

How is salvation received?

Christ laid down His own life voluntarily to redeem mankind. There is no act that man can do on his own to earn it. It is a gift given freely to any who may seek it. Receiving salvation can be boiled down to two words “be willing.”

Be willing to believe that Christ was the son of God, lived a sin free human life, and gave up that life to pay all penalties for sin. Then be willing to be obedient to Him. The key words are “to Him,” not your church, your doctrine, or your pastor.

The apostle Paul wrote in several epistles “all things are permissible to me.” He did not write all foods, or all days of worship, or all types of music. He wrote “ALL THINGS are permissible.” You cannot gain salvation by joining a church and following rules. Those rules and doctrines are another deception of the enemy to entrap mankind in a false law and false hope of salvation.

Scripture teaches that when we come to Christ we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who will guide us. If you are willing to believe and willing to be obedient to that guidance and do so then you have eternal salvation. That is grace, or unmerited favor. It is something given to us by God. Grace can never be earned by anything a person does or does not do.

This does not mean there are not benefits in religious activities. It means partake of them as God leads you, not as a means to earn favor. You CANNOT earn favor, grace is given. After you receive salvation it is beneficial to study scripture and attend church activities. This is how you find out who you are and what authority you receive through the adoption you are given by grace.

If you are willing to receive salvation you only need to tell God. Pray to Him. Tell Him in your own words you are willing to receive His free gift of salvation. Thank Him for the gift he gave through the death of His son. Tell Him you desire to be obedient and ask Him to guide you. Then do as He leads you.