What is the Gospel? The word gospel simply means “good news.” The central message of the Bible is the gospel, or good news, about the person and work of Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, Paul provides the most succinct summary of the gospel: the man Jesus is also God, or Christ, and died on a cross in our place, paying the penalty for our sins; three days later He rose to conquer sin and death and give the gift of salvation to all who believe in Him alone for eternal life.
The great reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in one of two ways. The first is religion/spirituality and the second is the gospel. The two are antithetical in every way.
- Religion says that if we obey God He will love us. The gospel says that it is because God has loved us through Jesus that we can obey.
- Religion says that the world is filled with good people and bad people. The gospel says that the world is filled with bad people who are either repentant or unrepentant.
- Religion says that you should trust in what you do as a good moral person. The gospel says that you should trust in the perfectly sinless life of Jesus because He alone is the only good and truly moral person who will ever live.
- The goal of religion is to get from God such things as health, wealth, insight, power, and control. The goal of the gospel is not the gifts God gives, but rather God as the gift given to us by grace.
- Religion is about what I have to do. The gospel is about what I get to do. Religion sees hardship in life as punishment from God. The gospel sees hardship in life as sanctifying affliction that reminds us of Jesus’ sufferings and is used by God in love to make us more like Jesus. Religion is about me. The gospel is about Jesus.
- Religion leads to an uncertainty about my standing before God because I never know if I have done enough to please God. The gospel leads to a certainty about my standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus on my behalf on the cross.
- Religion ends in either pride (because I think I am better than other people) or despair (because I continually fall short of God’s commands). The gospel ends in humble and confident joy because of the power of Jesus at work for me, in me, through me, and sometimes in spite of me.
Who Is Jesus
The Bible declares that Jesus was/is God the Son who in His incarnation (birth into human history as fully God and fully man) provided for us the clearest and most important revelation of God that has ever been or ever will be and can alone forgive our sins and grant us salvation.
In Hebrews 1:1-3 we read, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.”
The question of Jesus is of vital importance because while many people believe such things as that Jesus lived, was a good teacher, or a very spiritual man, there remains many erroneous perspectives of Him that deny that He is God. The Apostle Paul spoke of this propensity to reduce the majesty of the real Jesus in favor of a diluted and diminished Jesus that in the end is no longer truly Jesus at all. In 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 Paul writes, “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”
To help you determine your own personal belief about Jesus we have compiled the following nine reasons that I hope will compel you to receive Him as your own God. Each line of reasoning includes a verse from the Bible that is a quote from the mouth of Jesus declaring that He was/is God. We have chosen Jesus words because Jesus was put to death for continually declaring Himself to be God and in the end it really comes down to whether or not each of us believes Him and on that point His words become incredibly personal and pertinent.
1. Jesus said He was God
Throughout the history of the world that have been numerous people who claim to speak for God, but there has also been a surprisingly short list of people who have actually claimed to be God. For example, such religious leaders as Buddha, Krishna, Muhammad, and Ghandi did not claim to be God. But, Jesus clearly and repeatedly said He was God.
Mark 14:61-64 “Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, ‘Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?’ ‘I am,’ said Jesus. ‘And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ The high priest tore his clothes. ‘Why do we need any more witnesses?’ he asked. ‘You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?’”
John 8:58-59 “I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am!’ At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”
John 10:30-33 “I and the Father are one.’ Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’”
John 14:8-9 “Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus answered: ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?’”
2. Jesus said He Came From Heaven
On a very rare occasion someone will claim that they have been taken into heaven for a brief experience of its grandeur. Examples would include people who claim to have had a near death experience, and the founder of Islam Mohammad who claimed that on one occasion he was taken from earth to heaven. But, Jesus claimed to have come down from His eternal home in heaven, a claim which has never been made by the founder of any other world religion and evidence that Jesus was/is God because God alone dwells in heaven eternally.
John 6:38, 41-42, 60, 66 “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me . . .’ At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They said, ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?’ . . . On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ . . . From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”
John 16:28 “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
3. Jesus Said He Was Sinless
John 8:46 “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?”
In the history of the world no one has claimed with any credibility that they are without sin because to do so is to declare that one’s words, actions, thoughts, and motivations are continually perfect and pure. And, as the old adage goes, no one is perfect. Even those religious leaders who are widely recognized as the most devout and morally upright (e.g. Mohammad, or Ghandi) have claimed that they were indeed sinners. But, Jesus declared that He was not only morally superior to everyone who has ever lived, but in fact sinless. The perfect sinless of Jesus makes Him admittedly more holy and worthy of our devotion than anyone who has ever lived and helps to prove that He was/is God because God alone is without sin.
4. Jesus Forgave Sin
Mark 2:5 “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’”
While much of the resources in our world are spent on dealing with the effects of sin (e.g. war, illness, death, depression, crime, poverty, etc.) there is still no way for people to have their sins forgiven so that they might be cleansed from there stains. At best, some religions try to teach their adherents what they can do to work hard at paying God back through such things as good works and reincarnation, they still lack any concept of forgiveness. But, Jesus forgave sin because He was/is God and since all sin is ultimately committed against Him, He alone has the power to forgive the sins of sinners.
5. Jesus Said He was the Only Way to Heaven
John 14:6 “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.’”
While there are many religious and spiritual teachers who claim that they can point you to heaven’s path, they themselves do not claim that they are that path. But, Jesus promised that He was the way to eternal life in heaven. This also proves that Jesus was/is God because since heaven belongs to God, it is God alone who determines who will live with Him forever there. And, Jesus’ ability to give spiritual life after physical death to those who believe in Him is further evidence that He was/is God who rules over heaven and our eternity.
6. Jesus Confirmed to Others He was God.
Matthew 26:63-65 “But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, ‘I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.’ ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied. ‘But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.’ Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy.’”
Not only did Jesus repeatedly declare that He was God, but He also reiterated this fact when others who doubted or opposed that claim inquired of Him. For example, as the verse above describes an occasion in which a religious leader sought to condemn Jesus publicly for committing blasphemy, or declaring Himself to be God. The penalty for blasphemy was death and if Jesus were not convinced that He was God then we would expect Him to clarify the misunderstanding about Himself in an effort to avoid a bloody death. But, Jesus declared that He was God which further proves that everyone throughout history who has believed that Jesus claimed to be God has not misunderstood His words but rather understood them clearly.
7. Jesus Accepted Worship As God.
Matthew 14:33 “Then those who were in the boat worshiped him Jesus, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
John 9:38 “Then the man said, ‘Lord Jesus, I believe,’ and he worshiped him.”
The 10 Commandments which governed the life and worship of God’s people begin with the declaration of who God is and the commands to worship God alone and no one or nothing but Him (Exodus 20:1-17). To worship anyone or anything other than the One True God as the incredibly sin of idolatry that is forbidden throughout the Bible. But, Jesus freely welcomed other people to call Him God and worship Him as God without correcting or rebuking them for being in error. Therefore, Jesus acceptance of worship also proves that He was God.
8. Jesus did Many Miracles Including Rising from the Dead.
C.S. Lewis Once wrote….
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish things that people often say about Him: “I am ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.