The message of the Bible is summarized in specific truths that are referred to as the Gospel, or “good news.” While we don’t want to be over simplistic about the Gospel, we believe it can be summarized with the following truths, all of which deserve to be unpacked at length.

The Gospel begins with the truth that you and I were created to joyfully worship God. Instead, we rebelliously live for ourselves. So we deserve eternal punishment. But God, in His mercy and love, sent His Perfect Son, Jesus, to take our deserved penalty. Jesus was killed and punished in our place and for our sin. Now, the Resurrected Jesus restores to God all who believe in Him. Those who believe this Gospel and are committed to Jesus gather together regularly in worshiping communities, known as churches. Our mission as a church is to worship God, help each other grow spiritually, and lovingly serve others.

Title: Questions and Clarifications on the Gospel

     1. Can I trust that what the Bible says is true?

Yes, you absolutely can. There are some who try to discredit the truthfulness of the Bible; however, none of the arguments hold up if they are studied well and wisely. There are several thousand more ancient manuscripts for the Bible than for any other ancient document, and there is extensive historical evidence outside of the Bible that validates the historical accuracy of the people, places, and events recorded in the Bible. One cannot intelligently say that the Bible we have today is not accurate to what was written in the original manuscripts, or that what is written in the Bible is not historically accurate. The most a person can say is that they choose to disagree with the truth claims that are presented in the accurate Word of God. The biggest question that every human being has to wrestle with from the Bible is: “Is Jesus truly the Son of God?”

     2. Hasn’t science proven that God didn’t create the universe?

No, it hasn’t. Science, in its purest sense and by its very definition and nature, cannot disprove that God created the universe because science involves the study of the physical and natural world through observation and experimentation. No human being observed the creation of the universe and there is no experiment that can reproduce the creation of the universe in order
to demonstrate that it can be done without God. Scientists who claim that science proves that God did not create the universe are actually demonstrating that they are approaching the scientific evidence with a belief that there is no God. Their presuppositions (things they already believe before looking at and interpreting the scientific evidence) prevent them from observing and interpreting the available evidence in an objective, unbiased way. They start with the assumption that there can’t be a God and then seek to utilize the scientific evidence they are interpreting to make a claim that goes beyond the scientific endeavor.  

The most reasonable and intelligent thing for someone to do is to study the world around
them and determine how it most likely began. Did everything that exists in our universe really come from nothing? How many times has it been observed or scientifically demonstrated that something came from nothing?  (I’ll give you a hint: never.)  Did the intricately detailed, incredibly complex, information-filled universe that is populated with people who have conscious awareness of their existence really come from a completely random, unintelligent, purposeless, impersonal force? We have to ask ourselves what is most reasonable to believe. The question we must ask ourselves is “What is most probable given all of the available data?” And most importantly, although human beings were not present at the creation of the world, God was, and God chose to make known to us that He created the world and that He did so with a purpose in mind:  that we would know, love, and worship Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.

     3. What does it mean to be created to worship God?

Worship involves giving worth or value to something, and worship is something that every person does every second of every day of their lives. We are always giving our love, our allegiance, and our attention to various things and people around us throughout the day.  
The Bible teaches us that God is the most valuable thing that exists, and that He alone is worthy of our worship. God alone is worthy of our greatest allegiance, love, and attention.
That doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the good things that God has provided for us in His creation, but it does mean that we must enjoy them as God designed them to be enjoyed
if we desire to worship Him fully.

The Bible teaches us that God gave human beings a special place in His creation by creating us in His own image. There is nothing else in all of creation that is created in God’s image.
And because we are created in the image of God, we can only find our true happiness and fulfillment when we are worshiping God, when we are giving Him our total love and allegiance as reflected in our thoughts, words, and actions. As we worship God with all that we are, we think, speak, and act in ways that reflect and reproduce His goodness and love within His creation. God’s world only functions in the good way that God designed it to when people recognize God’s greatness and respond accordingly. For example, if someone recognizes
how great God is, they will also recognize the incredible value He has given every human being. And as that person gives God the worship He deserves, they will treat other human beings with kindness, love, and respect because they recognize that God has given them value and worth.  

     4. Aren’t people good by nature but their upbringing or society makes them bad?

A common belief in our culture is that people are generally good on the inside but external circumstances or society make them do bad things or become bad people. The Bible teaches us that this is not true.  It is not the things outside of us that make us do bad things but the sinfulness inside of us. The Bible teaches that the first human beings, Adam and Eve, were specially created by God to represent Him in His good creation. They were good but chose
to reject God’s good purpose for their lives and for His world, and they disobeyed God’s good command. The Bible calls this sin.  Since Adam and Eve, every single human being has been born with a sinful nature, a nature that is driven to reject God and His good purposes for the world. Our environment certainly has a shaping influence on our lives and affects the way that our sinful hearts respond to different situations; however, our environment doesn’t change our hearts; it simply reveals what is already within them. Human beings are still valuable to God and loved by Him even though they are sinful. But since Adam and Eve first disobeyed God,
all human beings are born with a bad, sinful nature that only God can fix.  

How do we know this is true?  Aside from the fact that the Bible is God’s authoritative Word that teaches this to us, this fact is obvious to us in our everyday experience of life. Everyone wants to think they are a “good person.” But think about the hurtful and hateful thoughts, desires, words, and actions you have expressed against others, even those who are closest
to you. In addition, look at society. If people were generally good on the inside, then why is society bad? If all people were good, then getting more good people together should make things even better. Instead, all societies require some form of legal and judicial system that is designed to punish evil and prevent people from doing bad things. Finally, look at children. You don’t have to teach children to lie, be greedy, hit, or hurt others. They do that all on their own. It is ingrained right in their cute little DNA. You do, however, have to teach children to be honest, to share, and to be kind to others.

     5. How could a loving God punish someone in hell forever?

We must properly understand love if we desire to understand how a loving God could and should punish people in hell forever. Let’s look at an example. Suppose a man ruthlessly murders another man, who is a husband, father, and valued employee. Now suppose that this man is arrested and is standing before a judge for sentencing. The judge looks at the man and he says, "Because I am a loving judge, I am not going to punish you. I love you so much that I am going to let you go without any consequences for your actions." Would we ever agree that such a judge is loving?  Of course not. We would say that he is a horribly unloving and unjust judge. A wife has lost her husband. Children have lost their father. An employer has lost a valued employee. A terrible injustice has been done. Understanding this helps us get to the heart of understanding God’s love. God’s love is a holy love. This means that it is a perfect love that cannot tolerate sin or the abuse or misuse of God’s good creation or those within it. It is a love that cares about the well-being of everyone involved, and it is a love that does not minimize justice for the sake of mushy sentimentality.  

You might think this is an extreme example. I mean, you’re not a murderer, right? But the truth is that any and every sin is a blatant rejection of God and His good design for His world. Jesus emphasizes the seriousness and depth of sin when He says, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to
the hell of fire” (Matthew 5:21-22). God is perfectly holy, which means that sin and sinfulness cannot be in His presence. And God is the perfectly righteous judge, meaning that He will always do what is right. God’s holiness and righteousness guarantee that He must punish every sin or He would no longer be the perfect God of the Bible. He would be something
less than the perfect God of the Bible. So you see, God’s very nature demands that there
be hell. Sin cannot be in God’s presence, and it must be punished. Hell is the place where people who have sinned against and rejected God live forever under His holy and just wrath and punishment for their sins. But how could God be loving if that is true? The next question will provide an explanation for this.

     6. Why was Jesus killed and punished in our place?

As we learned above, every human being was created in God’s image to worship Him. But since Adam and Eve first sinned, every human being has been and will continue to be born with a sinful nature. This sinful nature causes people to reject God and His good and loving purposes for His world. Because God is holy and righteous, He must punish all sin. Hell is the place reserved for those who have sinned against God and rejected Him. But if every person has a sinful nature and sins against God, then everyone would have to go to hell. You are absolutely correct. That would be true if God didn’t act to change the situation, which is exactly what His love motivated Him to do. The Bible says that “God so loved the world (sinful humanity), that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  

God’s love compelled Him to send His Son, Jesus, into the world to die in our place. Jesus lived the perfectly obedient and sinless life that we are supposed to live, and He took the punishment that we deserve upon Himself when He died on the cross on our behalf. God poured the holy and just wrath that we deserve for our sins on His Son, Jesus, so that if we believe in Jesus, we can receive forgiveness and new life in Him. Our broken relationship with God will be restored forever! The Bible says, “For our sake [God] made Him [Jesus] to be sin who knew sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God’s holiness and righteousness demand that our sin be punished, but God’s love compelled Him to send His Son to be punished in our place so that we could be forgiven and have a relationship with Him. What a great, gracious, and generous God!

     7. If Jesus is sinless and innocent, as you say He is, isn’t it unjust for God to kill innocent Jesus for our sins?

That is a great question. God would be unjust if He created an innocent human being and then punished that innocent human being for someone else’s sin.  But that is not what God did. Jesus is not a human being created by God.  Jesus, as the Son of God, is fully God and fully human. The Bible teaches that God is one God, but He exists in three co-equal and co-eternal persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. These three persons of the one God work together to provide salvation for sinful human beings. Let me explain.

Sin has to be punished, as we discussed above, and God is the only one who can offer forgiveness for the sins committed against Him. Because of this, God the Son became a human being in order to represent humanity in His life, death, and resurrection from the dead. Jesus is God, so He can take on the punishment of our sins without making God unjust. It is not unjust for God the Father to punish God the Son, who willingly desired to take the punishment of our sins upon Himself so that we could be saved. And because Jesus was fully human, He could fully represent us and die in our place. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead demonstrates that He truly was God, and that His death on our behalf was effective in providing salvation to those who put their trust in Jesus.

     8. How do we know that Jesus actually rose from the dead?

First, the Bible teaches us that Jesus rose from the dead, and we can trust the Bible because it is the accurate Word of God. Second, all of the available historical evidence points to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead.  

     9. Why do I have to believe in Jesus to have a relationship with God?

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). We must believe in Jesus to have a relationship with God because Jesus is the only one who made a way for sinful human beings to have a relationship with the holy God of the universe. If you recall from above, our sin separates us from God. God is holy and so sin cannot be in His presence. Every human being is sinful, and so every human being is separated from God. Jesus is the only one who became a human being and died for our sins so that we could be in relationship with the holy God of the universe. Because Jesus paid the penalty for the sin that separates us from God, when we put our trust in Him, God credits us with Jesus’ righteousness, and we are able to be in relationship with Him. No one else lived the perfect, righteous life that God’s holiness demands and died for the sins that God’s justice demands. Therefore, trusting in Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection is the only way to have a relationship with God.

     10. Aren’t all religions different ways to God?

It is a common misconception that all religions are fundamentally the same but superficially different, meaning that all religions are the same in the most important areas but only differ in unimportant details. The truth is that all religions have some superficial similarities but are actually fundamentally different. All religions differ at their very core, the most important areas of belief that make them distinct from other religions. To say that all religions, which contradict one another on primary core teachings, are different ways to God, would be illogical and nonsensical.  For example, some religions teach that there are multiple gods. Other religions teach that there is only one God. How can there be only one God and multiple gods at the same time?  This is illogical. In addition, some religions teach that God is an impersonal force, while other religions teach that God is a personal being. How can God be both an impersonal force and a personal being at the same time? This is also illogical. These are just a few of the many fundamental differences that exist among various religions. To say that they are all essentially the same is to deny their core teachings.

Interestingly, there is one very important way in which Christianity differs from all other religions. Every other religion aside from Christianity teaches that human beings must follow a certain set of rules or complete certain steps or do certain works in order to earn salvation. The Bible teaches that human beings can never earn their salvation because human beings can never work off the bad, sinful things they have done. No amount of good deeds can make someone’s sinfulness go away, and the holy God of the universe cannot and will not allow sin in His presence. But, the good news of Christianity is that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus Christ to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. God sent Jesus to live the perfect life that we cannot live and to die on the cross for the punishment of our sins. The Bible teaches that we must trust in the work of Jesus on our behalf, not trust in our own empty works. Every other religion says “Do, do, do.” Christianity says “Done.” Jesus has done for us what we could never do for ourselves, and it is only through turning from our sins and trusting in Him that we can gain a relationship with the God of the universe and receive eternal life.

In addition, Jesus is the only religious leader in history who has proven that His spiritual teaching was true. Every other religious leader throughout history has taught spiritual things that cannot be verified. They have claimed to have the spiritual truth that others need to embrace. And then they died, and they stayed dead. There is no verification that the spiritual truth they have taught is actually true. Jesus, on the other hand, said He would prove that his spiritual teaching was true by dying and then rising from the dead. Jesus demonstrated that He truly is the only way to God by fulfilling His promise to rise from the dead.