GOSPEL BASICS: CHRIST IS THE ANSWER
As we present the gospel to youth, we find that they are looking for answers to many questions. We believe that through Christ they can find the only truly fulfilling answer to these questions, and therefore we seek to address these questions. But we also know that often they are not aware of the biggest problem they face, and we seek to highlight this problem and show how Christ is the answer to it.
The problem I am talking about relates to human beings in their natural state missing the purpose for their existence, which is to have a love-relationship with their Creator that will go on for eternity, and to live for and serve this Creator. The problem is that, though God created us to live dependent on him and in loving relationship with him, we have followed the parents of the human race by choosing to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When Adam and Eve chose to eat this fruit, they succumbed to the serpent’s word that if they eat of this tree they will be like God knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:5). That was a decision to dethrone God and rule their own lives by themselves deciding what is good and what is evil.
So, in essence, the basic sin of humans is the pride of saying that we can look after ourselves and the rebellion of rejecting the offer of our Creator to save and care for us. That is a very serious sin because it is treason against the government that God set up for this universe to be the beautiful place he intended it to be. The Bible teaches that the other sins which people commit derive from this basic sin of choosing to be independent from God (Rom. 1:18-32). The result of this rebellion is that we are headed for the punishment that such a serious sin deserves. The good news of the gospel is that God sent Jesus into the world to give us a way out of this predicament.
Jesus said that he came to this world “to give his life as a ransom for” us (Mark 10:45). He did that by dying on the cross and bearing the punishment for our sins. Peter described what Christ did saying, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet. 2:24). This provides an answer to the most serious problem facing human beings. People who were headed for eternal punishment and now headed for heaven after the forgiveness of their sins. But it also provides an answer to the other two major problems facing humans: the pride of independence from God and the unfulfilment of missing the purpose for which we were created.
The Bible teaches that by believing in Jesus we can receive what Jesus did for our salvation (John 1:12; 3:16). Some people question how as simple act as believing Jesus could have such a huge impact on a person. It may be a simple act but it has enormous implications. We are not simply talking about giving intellectual assent to what Jesus did. Paul describes it as “believing in your heart” (Rom. 10:9). The reference to the heart shows that belief affects the inner person. It is accepting that what we are doing to save ourselves does not work; it is depending on what Christ did for our salvation and entrusting ourselves to God to save us and lead us through life. This is the opposite of what happened in the garden. It is like giving the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil back to God and asking God to be the one who decides what is good and what is evil for our lives. So belief is the solution to the basic sin of humans, the sin from which all other sins spring. When we believe we give up the pride of choosing to live independent of God and entrust ourselves to God.
Belief also opens the door for us to discover the purpose for which we were created. John 1:12 says that those who believe in Jesus are given “the right to become the children of God.” Jesus describes this as knowing God; that is, entering into a personal relationship with God (John 17:3). This is the only way to a fulfilling life. This is why Jesus said that he came to the world to give us a completely fulfilling life (John 10:10). The great French Mathematician and inventor Blaise Pascal said that there is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator. So when we believe in Christ and enter into a relationship with God, we find the purpose of life—the deep hunger in our hearts is taken away. The Indian evangelist Sadhu Sundar Singh described it like this, “Without Christ I am like a fish out of water, with Christ I am in an ocean of love.”
This is why evangelism is so urgent today. We need to pay attention to the many needs that people have and see how we can help meet those needs. As a youth movement we are involved in education, healthy, social welfare, counselling and seeking justice for Sri Lanka’s youth. We encourage youth to consider vocations which seek to meet these needs. While all of these are important, it is sobering to think that believing in Christ results in eternal salvation. Eternal means for ever and ever. This is why the work evangelism is so urgent. Paul underscores the urgency of evangelism when he says,
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Rom. 10:13-14).
John Wesley told his preachers:
You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work…. Observe: It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance, and with all your power to build them up in that holiness without which they cannot see the Lord.
We know that Wesley was involved in many other things besides saving souls. He is known for the marked impact he had upon society. But he knew that the most urgent business is introducing people to the salvation God offers them. In that he was like Paul who said, “For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16).