The Gospel, at its core, is the action God has taken, purely at His initiative and in keeping with His own purposes, to restore the relationship between Himself and wayward mankind. That relationship was eternally broken when the first man and woman disobeyed His commandment to them, a directive given in love with a view to protecting them and deepening their relationship with Himself. For restoration to occur, two seemingly contradictory qualities in God’s nature had to be satisfied: His justice and His love.
The sections below will bring clarity and understanding to what Grace Covenant Church believes about the Gospel--what it is and what it does.
Justice required that man’s rebellion had to be judged and punished. In keeping with His holy nature, this would require the destruction of all who had fallen short of His perfect decrees. As such, all men everywhere, in every age stood under condemnation. As the Bible says, “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [ROM 3:23] At the same time, God’s love moved Him to extend mercy – forgiveness – to His wayward children. His love sought a way to provide mercy and extend it to those who had rebelled and now lived in death.
For deliverance to occur, neither mercy nor judgment could be denied; both were expressions of His holy nature. How could restoration be accomplished given such contradictory realities? It was through the act of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, coming into this world and becoming a willing stand-in for humankind, personally taking the full weight of God’s judgment against man’s rebellion, that deliverance was accomplished. Having lived a life completely in accord with God’s will, being “without sin,” Jesus was able to offer His life as a perfect substitution. Yet as one man, Jesus could only take the punishment of one other person. But as God’s Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a woman, He was unique – fully human, yet fully God. It was this eternal nature, the mystery of His being God/Man, that made the offering of Himself sufficient to bear God’s judgment on the world.
To bear such judgment, however, required the suffering and death of Christ. It came at the hands of the government of His day. Though innocent of any crime, He was falsely accused by the religious leaders, rejected by the crowd that had praised him just days before, and condemned by the Roman governor. Executed by crucifixion, Jesus died and was buried in a tomb. On the third day following His death, He came forth, fully alive, showing Himself to the disciples who had followed Him. These men and women, who had earlier been confused by His declarations that He would suffer, be killed and would rise from the dead, now told the story of what they had seen, heard, and experienced. Their confession – and their explanation of the meaning of it all – was that Jesus was the Christ, God’s Son, the Messiah foretold in the Old Testament, now come into the world bringing the deliverance mankind so needed. All this was according to God’s plan, at His initiative, for His good pleasure. This story of Christ, of the deliverance and restoration – the “redemption” – He won through His sacrifice and death is rooted in the historical witness of those first followers and countless numbers who’ve since believed their testimony and experienced the reality of God’s loving kindness by faith.
The benefit of God’s saving work begins with hearing and embracing what the story tells, first about ourselves and then about God’s provision for us. We must each recognize ourselves to be “sinners,” separated from God and alienated by our own disobedience. As descendants of the original “rebels,” we not only do bad things, we are, by nature, disposed toward resisting God and His will. Only with God’s help are we able to see our wrong for what it is and experience the fear and regret that such conviction brings.
The first step toward salvation is seeing the need for it and, here too, God must help us. Only then are we open to God’s mercy and kindness. Seeing our deep need, we hear the declaration of God’s mercy, of Christ taking our punishment and making a way for us to find peace with God as truly “good news.” The prospect of deliverance from the judgment of sin, and restored relationship with the Father of our souls, is truly light to our darkness. And all of this is achieved purely on the basis of God’s work in Christ, without reliance upon any work of our own. As the Bible declares, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” [EPH 2:8]
It is in the simple act of faith, of believing the narrative story and taking God at His word, that we receive “the gift of God.” The mercy He offers and the new life He gives are embraced through the receptivity of faith. Salvation is entered into as we hear with faith and yield our lives to Him who has done so much for us. Grace Covenant Church exists because of the truth, the reality of this narrative. Furthermore, Grace Covenant Church takes its place among the ranks of countless saints whose lives bear witness to this “good news.” Will you join us?