Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
—1 Corinthians 15:1-5
Death for Sin
We are all born with consciences, knowing good and evil (God’s law). The man who keeps God’s law perfectly is innocent. But the rest of us fail, committing evil, and so sinning against God Himself. This is punishable by death — eternal separation from God.
Christ for Us
Jesus came and kept God’s law perfectly. God, the just judge, punished Christ for our lawbreaking.
Burial and Resurrection
Christ died, and the Father raised Him from the dead. This is our model for Christianity: death and resurrection.
This is It
When we die and stand in God’s court, on what basis will we have God judge us? Will we point to our own imperfect lives? Will we say that we were good enough?
The gospel is not that you can have your “best life now.” It is not that there is a new law for you to keep, and thereby save yourself. The gospel is that God offers the free gift of salvation through faith in Christ.
In Jesus’ Words
John 3:16 is a powerful and popular verse, but few people have read the rest of Jesus’ explanation to Nicodemus of His purpose and His diagnosis. Even the immediate context is eye-opening, so I’ll close with the Savior’s own words.
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.”
— John 3:14-21