The gospel begins with a story. It begins in a garden. It begins with an all powerful, holy, sinless God creating a perfect world, and placing man in that world. Man and woman were to steward the flawless world that so beautifully reflected the flawless God who created them. They were given free reign over every part of creation. They had access to everything. Everything except for one. One thing alone was forbidden. It was the fruit of the tree called the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” That tree was off limits. That tree was the clear line in the sand that separated created from creator. For God to impose a restriction would mean that He had the authority to do so. It would mean that He was God, and they were not. Every time they saw that tree, it would be a visual reminder that there is someone above them, to whom they are responsible and whom they are to obey.
Imagine a world where there is literally only one rule. One law. One restriction. That is it. Everything else is freely and fully yours to delight your heart and cause you to worship the God who made you. You would think that Adam and Eve would have been able to handle one restriction. They could not. That is where Satan, the enemy of God and all who love Him, comes onto the scene. Having been thrown out of heaven himself because he wanted to exalt himself above God (Isaiah 14:14), he decided to try to tempt man and woman to do the very same thing that had just cost him everything. He lies to them. He tells Eve that if she eats the fruit, she will be like God, knowing good and evil. She believes that lie, eats the fruit and also gives the fruit to her husband. He eats it as well. That was the moment where everything fell apart. Paradise was truly lost. The open clear fellowship with God was lost. Innocence was lost. Eternal life was lost. All things began dying. From the earth itself, to true relational intimacy, things that were created and called “good” were being touched and broken by this death that was now permeating everything. Their first impulse was to hide. They tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. They had never before experienced shame. Now it was all they felt. In their new state, their new state of sin and death, they could no longer have open access to God. In their sin, they could not survive the tangible presence of a holy God. They had to leave the garden. They began to experience the ramifications of sin in their lives and in their children. In the following generations, mankind would have a front row seat to murder, envy, lust, greed and every other dark thing that grows from our selfish hearts. This seed of sin, this nature that is opposed to God and that desires to be ruled by no one, would be in all of us from birth. From then on, our thoughts would be bent. Our motives would be selfish. Our souls would bristle against the thought of submission to God. Yet somehow, in the midst of our depravity, God would step into our world, in the form of a man, Jesus Christ. Once again, he would extend his offer of friendship and eternal life to a world that is actively dying. Jesus would come, be born of a virgin, endure the same kind of temptations that we face, yet do so without sin. He would live the perfect, holy life that we could not live if we had a thousand lifetimes with which to try. He then would go to the cross.
He, the sinless, one would be tried and convicted and crucified. Jesus, the innocent one would go to the place of the guilty and he would die the death of the guilty. As he hung on that cross, the Bible says that “The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). From Adam and Eve in the garden to you and me today, all of our sin, for all of our lives, God laid on the body of Jesus. And in that moment, the wrath of God fell on Jesus. God fully poured out the just sentence for every evil and violent and proud and selfish act that has ever or will ever be committed. The punishment for your sin fell on Jesus. The punishment for my sin fell on Jesus. He died. He was executed. He received a death sentence. The only truly innocent one ever to live. Why? Because that was the only way to save us. We could not die for our own sins. It would be deserved. We are guilty. We would still not be righteous. We would still be separated from a Holy God. So God did what we could not do. God did what the Law could not do. God did what “being a good person” could not do. Jesus did what religion could not do. He paid the price, the penalty for our sin, by dying for us. The Bible says that “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And that is not the end. God raised Him from the dead. The living Jesus provides the holiness needed to stand before God. He lived a flawless, sinless life, and he offers that life to us through faith. He offers us his own spotless record in exchange for our sinful one. He asks us to acknowledge that we are sinful and rebellious against God from birth and that we need a savior. He asks us to repent, to ask for forgiveness for that sin and to cry out for His Mercy. The Bible says that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). What does it mean to be saved? It means that when God looks at you, he sees the perfection of Jesus, and not your sin. It means that your sin and rebellion has been dealt with and punished at the cross. There is no judgment left for you. It’s been spent on Jesus. It means that your spirit is now alive and can never die. It means that the moment you exhale your last breath, you will awaken to eternal life with the God who loves you fiercely and delights in you. It means that there is a new King on the throne in your life and He is good and true and cannot lie. It means that you are a part of a new family that spans the whole earth, consisting of those who have called on the name of Jesus for salvation. It means that you have a Father in heaven who watches over every detail of your life and who cares deeply. It means that you are new. In every way. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away- behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Do you want to be saved? Do you want to receive the forgiveness of sin and new life in Jesus Christ? Cry out to him right now. Repent of your sin. Believe in what He has done for you. He will save you. He is the only one who can. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12)”
If you have questions about how to be saved, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .