The gospel in its simplest form is twelve words: “Christ died for our sins and was raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
The gospel is not based on what we do for Christ, but what He did for us.We can be pardoned instead of punished for all of eternity because of what Christ did on the cross. When we place our trust in Jesus Christ alone our lives are transformed forever because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
John 3:16 offers us the three things God wants us to know: His love, His gift, and His offer of salvation.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
What is God’s Love?
“For God so loved the world” (John 3:16a)
God’s love is remarkable because He loves us even though we are we are born with a nature in complete rebellion against God our Creator. Unkind thoughts, speaking untrue things, self centeredness—we are guilty of all of these and more. But God still loves us no matter what we have done or are doing. We deserve God’s anger rather than his love, because we regularly break God’s commandments. But God does not turn His back on us because He loves us. Two thousand years ago, His love provided a gift only He could give.
What is God’s Gift?
“...that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16b)
The gift is God’s Son—Jesus Christ. We have sinned in our rebellion, we deserve to die and be separated from God forever. The Bible identifies that place of separation as hell.
But God gave His Son to take our punishment. Begotten means “one of a kind.” Jesus Christ is God’s unique son. He is perfect. Christ is our substitute. On a cross two thousand years ago, He died for our sins. As God, He came back to life, proving He had conquered sin and death once and for all. Because the price for our sin has been paid, the way to God is clear and simple.
What is God’s Offer?
“...that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16c)
Jesus did not mean “whoever goes to church, is baptized, helps the poor, or tries to live a good life.” Every single one of us is part of this “whoever believes” offer by the gospel. Not a single person is left out if they in fact “believe in Christ”.
The word believe means to “trust,” “depend,” or “rely on.” Knowing about Jesus is not enough. We have to place our trust in Jesus Christ alone to save us. That means we must trust Christ as our only way to heaven, the only way we can have a relationship with God.
There is nothing more important than your need to trust Christ. You can tell God you are trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior through a simple prayer. It is not a prayer that saves you; it is trusting Christ that saves. Prayer is simply how you tell God what you are doing.
"Dear God, I know I’m a sinner. I know my sin deserves to be punished. I believe Christ died for me and rose from the grave. I trust Jesus Christ alone as my Savior. Thank you for the forgiveness and everlasting life I now have. In Jesus’ name, amen."
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