The gospel is…

Summed up in these words from the New Testament: For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (1 Tim 2:5)

The gospel is—simple.
You don’t have to be a mathematician to answer this question: What is the simplest number you can think of? One, of course, the number one. This  verse gives us the simple gospel, using the number one. “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the [one] Man Christ Jesus.”

The word gospel means “good news”. And the good news is simple.  Not trite, but simple. Profoundly so, though perhaps not at first glance. Let’s think about it together.  I’ll read the verse again, “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the [one] Man Christ Jesus.”

First of all, the gospel is simple in its scope.
Secondly, the gospel is simple in its basic message.
And thirdly, the gospel is simple in its response, or rather, our response to it.

The gospel is simple in its scope.
The word scope means, “Who’s it for?”
It’s for everybody.  Jesus commanded his disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel (i.e., the good news) to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) To everybody.  How complicated would it all be if the gospel was only for those of a certain race, or nationality, or ethnic background. “God has made of one blood all nations of men…to dwell on all the face of the earth.” (Acts 17:26) None of us have an “in”, so to speak, where the gospel is concerned.  We are all in the same boat.  We are all creatures.  There is only one Creator. “For there is one God.”

The gospel is simple in its message.
“For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the [one] Man Christ Jesus.” Now when we think of a mediator, we usually think of a labor dispute, and a go-between person, an arbiter, someone who can bring both sides together, sit down at the same table, and work out their differences. But that’s not what is meant by the word Mediator in this context, for two reasons.  1) Our notion of a mediator is someone who comes in between two parties in conflict.  The two sides sit down at the same bargaining table, but they are “very far apart”.  Now it is certainly true that God is above us, beyond  uSo. “Transcendent” is the word the theologians use.  God is transcendent, but He is not distant.  “Am I a God near at hand, says the Lord, and not a God afar off?  Can anyone hide himself in secret places so I shall not see him? Do I not fill heaven and earth? (Jeremiah 23:23-24) Transcendent, but not distant. How complicated would it all be if we had to set out to find an infinite, transcendent God. No one could do it.  The simple message of the gospel is that He is not distant from us. We are distant from Him.  All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one to his own way. (Isaiah 53:6)  It might be stretching the metaphor a bit, but God is already at the bargaining table. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them. [It is as] though God were pleading through us, we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God!” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) My God is reconciled! Wonderful words from a wonderful hymn of the faith.  “There is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” There is a second reason why this Mediator, this mediation, is so different.  Think again of a labor dispute, and the need for a mediator.  Both sides bring something to the table, so to speak. Both sides have what they call bargaining chips.  But where God and our salvation is concerned, we have no bargaining chips. We are in no position to give and take with God.  We are, spiritually speaking, bankrupt. If we know ourselves at all, we know that we are self-centered, prideful, sinful. And if we don’t know that, the Scriptures point us to the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross of Jesus Christ reminds us, in stark fashion, of the love God has for sinners, and the bankruptcy of our sinful condition. Why else would the very Son of God die in our place? Bearing our sin? “[He] bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24)

And finally, the gospel is simple in its response, or rather, in our response to it.  “For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the [one] Man, Christ Jesus.”  So we come to the bargaining table, not to bargain, but only because we have been graciously invited.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already” (John 3:16-18)  Whoever believes in Him. How wonderful! How simple! How complicated it would all be if we had to first turn in a checklist. Or fill out an application. Or take a special test.  Or jump so high off the ground.  Or have a certain amount of money in our bank account.  None of that.  Believe.  Believe what?  That Jesus died for the sins of the world. No, that’s not enough.  Listen carefully, it is not enough to believe that He died for the sins of the world, in some general far-off way.  You must believe that He died for your sins.  Yours.  Believing means turning your back on some things.  Repentance.  Believing means asking for forgiveness, or perhaps better, receiving the forgiveness that is already there for you, for the asking. Believing means desiring to live for Jesus. Give Him your past.  Trust Him for the present.  And hope in the bright future He has promised to all who believe in Him.

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