We’ve learned that the Gospel is the story of Jesus coming to rescue His people from their sin and its consequences–eternal separation from God. He did this by living a perfectly sinless life, dying for our sins on the cross, and rising from the dead, which proved that His sacrifice was pleasing to the Father. However, there’s more. There’s more, you ask? Yes, much more. The Gospel is much more than just a ticket to heaven. The Gospel is not just another way to live with its own set of “rules.”
Jesus told the people of His day, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The central concept of the Gospel is life. The word used for ‘life’ in this verse is the Greek word zoe, which denotes spiritual life (as opposed to purely physical or biological life). It is the ‘life’ that Christ has in Himself (John 1:4) and the life He offers to those who receive Him (John 1:12-13). What are the elements of this life?
First, we are united with Christ. The phrases “in Christ” and “in Him” occur some 150 times in the New Testament. The Bible tells us that when we place our faith in Christ, we are united with Him in His death, burial and resurrection. Those things that happened to Christ can now also be said of us. His righteousness becomes ours. We are told, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death . . . . For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:3-5). The baptism Paul mentions here is not the physical act of baptism. Rather, it is what happens to us at the moment of salvation; we were ‘immersed’ into Christ, sharing in His life, death, and resurrection.
Second, we are given a New Identity – The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Once we are saved, we are “in Christ,” and are remade into a new creation. We’ll go into more detail about what this means later, but for now, it is enough to say that once saved, we are not the same.
Third, We are released from Sin and Death – When we “died with Christ,” that death released us from sin’s power over us. Before we were saved, our only inclination was to sin. We could not choose to live righteously. (Even our “good acts” were and are polluted by sin and the flesh.) Now, we are no longer slaves to sin, we have the ability to to obey God–indeed it is now our inclination to do so.
The Gospel changes everything. Including who we are.