The Gospel in Brief

This page is organized around four vital questions and their Biblical answers.  These questions are:

1.  Who is the God of the Bible?

2.  What is the condition of man?

3.  What has God done about man’s condition?

4.  What is man’s only sensible response?

Along with answers to these questions are provided a few of the very many Bible references that stand behind the answers.  The Christian faith is correctly defined only in terms of what God has revealed about Himself and His will in the Bible.  So you are encouraged to work through this page with a Bible in hand.

Question 1

Who is the God of the Bible?

God is personal (i.e. He has all the attributes of personality.  He thinks, He acts, He loves, He speaks, etc.).

Ephesians 1:4, Genesis 1:1, John 3:16

There is only one true God, who has eternally existed in three distinct but completely harmonious persons: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  (God’s triune nature is most obvious from the New Testament, but is also discernible from the Old Testament.)

Deuteronomy 6:4, James 2:19, Genesis 1:26, 11:7, Isaiah 6:8, 44:6, 48:16, Matthew 3:16-17, 28:19, I Peter 1:2, John 1:1-3 and 14-15, 10:30, 17:5 and 24, Titus 2:13, Luke 12:12, Mark 1:10-11, Psalm 18:31

God is the “first cause.”  He created everything that exists out of nothing.  He presently sustains all that is.  The order that is obvious in the universe is a reflection of His character.

Revelation 4:11, Colossians 1:16-17, Psalm 33:6 and 9, Genesis 1:1 and 31, Hebrews 1:3, 11:3

God is constant/unchanging.

James 1:17, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, Psalm 90:2, Psalm 102:25-27, Isaiah 40:6-8, Numbers 23:19

It is His character that provides a basis for human morality.  His nature is the very definition of goodness (i.e., that which is morally excellent) and provides an absolute standard of righteousness.

Revelation 15:3-4, Psalm 14:1, Romans 3:23, I John 1:5,6, Habakkuk 1:13, John 17:17, Psalm 119:151, Psalm 18:30

God is both perfectly loving and perfectly just.

I John 4:16, Exodus 34:6-7, Psalm 136, Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 33:5, Psalm 107

God is infinite, without any inherent limitations.  He is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present.

Genesis 18:14, Jeremiah 32:17, Luke 1:37, Psalm 139, Daniel 4:34 and 35, Isaiah 40:18, Jeremiah 23:23-24

God is transcendent.  He is distinctly “other,” above and independent of His creation.  In particular, He is not the sum of all created things or some kind of “universal consciousness.” Nor are our own thoughts alone adequate guidance in matters pertaining to Him.

Exodus 3:14, Hebrews 1:3, Isaiah 40:18,25, Isaiah 55:8-9

At the same time, God is immanent, present and working in His creation.  He is not simply a spectator.  He stands and works in a linear history, that had a beginning at His creation of the world and will pass into an eternity at the point He chooses.

Daniel 2:20-21, Isaiah 55:10-11, John 5:16-19, Romans 8:28, Matthew 24, Luke 21

God has chosen to reveal Himself to man.  He has done so in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and most completely in the person of Jesus Christ, God the Son who lived in space and time as a man.

Hebrews 1:1-3, John 1:1 and 14, I John 1:1, II Peter 1:16

Question 2

What is the condition of man?

Man is one of God’s creations.  He is, was and always will be finite.  (Expectations of eventual “godhood” or self-generated perfection are not Christian expectations.)

Genesis 2:7, 1:26, Isaiah 55:8-9, Proverbs 9:10

Nevertheless, man is the highest of God’s created beings.  The Bible says that man was created “in God’s image.”

Genesis 1:31, Psalm 8:5-8

As such, he was endowed with worth by his Creator and in a limited way shares some of God’s characteristics:

  1. Man has personality.  He can think, act, will, love, speak for himself.  He is not a bionic “robot” or automaton, preprogrammed by God or an impersonal “nature.”  (His actions therefore have meaning.)   Genesis 2:16,17, Joshua 24:15, Matthew 22:37-39
  2. Man has an eternal soul.  Matthew 25:31-46, Jude 7 and 21, II Thessalonians 1:6-10

God created man good.  He was made for relationship with God Himself.  He originally had the ability to live in accord with God’s character and standards of conduct.

Genesis 1:31, Genesis 3:8a, Hosea 6:6, Jeremiah 9:23, 24

In space and time the first two humans consciously chose rebellion/evil over relationship with their Creator and then tried to conceal their real guilt.  As a consequence of their actions, they lost their desire and ability to live righteously, and decay and physical death were introduced into the world.

Genesis 3, Romans 5:12

Man’s fallen/rebellious nature and tendency to deny guilt has been passed down to every human being born since of a man and woman.  As such, men are beings unfit for the presence of a holy God.

Psalm 51:5, Genesis 6:5, Psalm 130:3, Isaiah 6:1-5, Luke 5:8

The Bible calls men sinners by nature, and the outworking of that nature is that men regularly individually choose rebellion against the revealed nature and desires of their Creator.  In doing so, they fail to live up to even their own meager standards of right and wrong, let alone to God’s absolute standard.

Genesis 6:5, 8:21, Isaiah 53:6, I John 1:8,10, Jeremiah 17:9, James 4:17

Every aspect of man’s being is touched by corruption.  Any good that he attempts to do on his own is both colored by that corruption and selfishness, and is inadequate when compared to the character of his Creator.

Job 14:4, Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:9-20, 23, Ecclesiastes 7:20

God will not abide evil/rebellion against Himself.  Every individual human being is justly under a sentence of eternal condemnation and exclusion from His presence and all that is truly good.

Psalm 5:4-6, Exodus 34:6-7, Hebrews 10:30,31, Nahum 1:2, Ephesians 5:5,6, Isaiah 59:1-2, Romans 1:18, 2:1-11

Question 3

What has God done about man’s condition?

God loves fallen man.

John 3:16-17, I John 4:10, Ephesians 2:4-6

God’s completely righteous character dictates that man’s rebellion and corruption can not simply be overlooked.  God hates man’s sin; it has no place in His presence.

Hebrews 10:30-31, Isaiah 59:1-2, Matthew 5:48, Exodus 20:1-20 and Matthew 5, Luke 5:8

Man is incapable of either changing his nature or making right his past wrongs.  If there is to be a way of restoring relationship between God and man, it must be at God’s initiative.  God has acted to provide such a way and save men from the just consequences of their rebellion.

Jeremiah 13:23, Mark 7:21-23, Romans 7:21-25, Psalm 49:7-9, Romans 8:1-3

In time and space God the Son was born into the world as the human baby of a virgin.  This person, Jesus (the “Christ” or “anointed one”), lived an absolutely perfect life, in spite of suffering every temptation to evil faced by man.  At all times and in every way Jesus acted in harmony with the purposes and character of the Father.

II Peter 1:16, I John 1:1, 4:14, Matthew 1:18-25, 16:15-17, Luke 1:26-2:7, John 1:14, 10:30, 14:10-11, 5:19, 6:38, Hebrews 4:14-16

Jesus was fully God and fully human.  In the place of every human, Jesus willingly bore the just penalty for man’s rebellion.  He suffered abuse and physical death on a Roman cross, and separation from the Father.

Colossians 2:9, I John 2:2, 4:8-10, Galatians 2:20, Romans 8:32, II Corinthians 5:21, John 10:11, I Peter 2:24, 3:18, Matthew 27, 27:46, Mark 15, 15:34, Luke 23, John 19, Isaiah 53:4-5

But in a demonstration of His great power and His complete dominion over evil and its consequences, the Father raised Jesus bodily from the dead.

Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20, Romans 4:25, I Corinthians 15:3-8, 16-20, Acts 10:39-43

Now God offers undeserved pardon, relationship and a new nature to man, on the merits of the completed work of Jesus.  To those individuals who will give up their rebellion and self-righteousness and rely solely on the sacrifice of Jesus as full payment for their real guilt and setting right their relationship with God, He offers adoption and unending life in His presence.

Romans 3:21-26, 5:9-11, 6:5-11, Luke 15:11-24, Galatians 4:4-5, Philippians 3:7-11 and 20-21, Colossians 1: 12-14

Left to his own fallen devices, no man would humble himself to respond to God.  But God the Holy Spirit is presently at work in the lives of individuals, wooing them in a way that leaves their freedom (to refuse) intact but also makes it possible for them to respond.

John 6:44, 16:5-10, Ephesians 2:8-9

Question 4

What is man’s only sensible response?

Every individual is by nature and active choice a rebel against God, his Creator and rightful Sovereign and is justly condemned to eternal separation from all good because of his rebellion.  Nevertheless, God has acted on man’s behalf and through the person and work of Jesus offers individuals a restored and never ending relationship to Himself, and gently but actively woos them.

Individuals have the choice to respond or not.

John 3:16-18

The New Testament statements of Jesus are exclusive in the sense that He makes it clear that He is the only way to relationship with God.  They are also comprehensive, demanding no less than one’s complete allegiance.

John 14:6 and 9, I Timothy 2:5, Mark 10:17-31, Matthew 8:18-22, Luke 14:25-33

Those who genuinely grasp the greatness of God, the desperateness of their situation and the magnitude of God’s mercy ought to immediately abandon themselves to God in Christ in every way.  This is more than intellectual assent to revealed Truth or request for pardon for past evil devoid of fundamental change in attitude.  It is the complete, awed and grateful surrender of a humbled rebel subject before a King and Father who at great personal expense invites him into relationship.

II Corinthians 5:20-21, Romans 12:1-2, I Corinthians 6:20, Philippians 3:7-11, James 2:19, John 3:3, Acts 2:36-38, Matthew 16:24-25, Psalm 73:25-26, Proverbs 9:10, I Peter 5:6

In those who respond and truly repent of their own real evil and guilt, God puts a new nature.  He offers continual opportunity of audience with Himself through prayer.  He works through the balance of their lives to “conform them to the likeness of Jesus.”  In place of fallen rebelliousness, they begin in varying degrees to reflect God’s character.

Romans 6, Ephesians 6:18, I Thessalonians 5:17, Hebrews 4:14-16, Romans 8:28-30, Galatians 5:13-25

Acting in accord with God’s character and revealed will becomes possible and joy.  The witness of Scripture and testimony of 2000 years worth of Christian history is that there is an attractive wholesomeness, contentment, energy, joy and strength in lives rightly related to God.

I Peter 1:8-9, Colossians 4:6, I Timothy 6:6, Philippians 4:11-13

The Bible speaks of God’s redemptive acts towards men as “adoption.”  The Christian church is the family of those who are so adopted and the visible “body of Christ.”  The pattern and instruction of scripture is that God’s adopted children are to have relationship with each other as well as with Him, and corporately worship Him and proclaim the good news of the reconciliation He offers through Jesus.

Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:23, John 13:34-35, Hebrews 10:24-25, Ephesians 4:1-16, Acts 5:41-42

Summary Statements

Who is the God of the Bible?

The God of the Bible is the infinite, eternally self-existent Creator and Sustainer of everything that is.  This one God has always existed in three distinct but completely harmonious persons we call the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  God is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present and completely without peer.  His character is the very definition of goodness, love and justice.   God is unchanging.   He is transcendent yet immanent.  God has revealed Himself to man through the scriptures we call the Bible and through the person of God the Son who lived in space and time as a man.

What is the condition of man?

Man is the highest of God’s created finite beings.  The Bible says that he was created “in God’s image”.  He shares with God the aspects of personality and will and has an eternal soul.  As created, he was good, made for relationship with God Himself and had the ability to live in accord with God’s character and standards.

In space and time the first two humans chose rebellion over an eternal relationship with God and in the process lost both the desire and ability to live in accord with God’s character and introduced physical death and decay into the world.  Their fallen/rebellious nature has been passed down to every human being born of a man and a woman since.  Men are beings by birth unfit for the presence of a Holy God, who regularly individually choose rebellion against His revealed law and fail to live up to even their own meager standards, let alone His absolute ones.  There is no aspect of man’s being untouched by this corruption and every individual human is justly under a sentence of eternal condemnation for this.

What has God done about man’s condition?

Because of His great love for men, God has provided a way of escape from our condition that satisfies His just requirement that rebellion be punished and yet saves individuals from the eternal consequences of their nature and actions.

God the Son became a human being, born of a virgin in time and space, who lived an absolutely perfect life in spite of suffering every temptation to evil common to man.  Jesus, fully God and fully human, willingly suffered the just penalty of all human rebellion in the form of physical death on a cross and separation from the Father.  He then proved His divinity and God’s complete dominion over evil and its consequences through His bodily resurrection.

Now God offers undeserved pardon, a new righteous nature, relationship and unending life in His presence to all who will give up their rebellion and in humility rely solely on the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus as full payment for their real guilt.  The Holy Spirit is presently at work in the lives of individuals, making it possible for them to do this.

What is man’s only sensible response?

Individuals must respond to God or not.  But the claims of the Bible are exclusive in the sense that Jesus is shown as the one and only way to God.

The Christian response to God’s action on man’s behalf is for men to individually abandon themselves to Him in every aspect of their lives, living in personal relationship with Him with thankful hearts, and in everything endeavoring to bring Him the honor that is rightly due Him, acting in accord with His nature and laws.

As “adopted” members of the family of God, those responding to God in Christ are “conformed to the likeness of Jesus” and made part of the Christian church.

Some More Reading

The authoritative source for what Christians believe is the Bible.

Some useful summary statements about the God of the Bible and basic Christianity can be found in:

The Universe Next Door: A Basic World View Catalog, James Sire, InterVarsity Press

Basic Bible Studies, Francis Schaeffer, Tyndale House Publishers

Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, Macmillan Publishing Co.

Knowing God, J.I. Packer, InterVarsity Press

Know What You Believe, Paul Little, Victor Books

Basic Christianity, John R. W. Stott, InterVarsity Press

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