This article forms part of a series aimed at introducing people to the message of the gospel, which is the Good News of Jesus. It is prompted and motivated by a number of reasons. First, in our post-modern, post-industrial world, the Judeo-Christian narrative which has informed and underpinned our lives for centuries is under severe attack. It is important that the story is told and re-told to a new generation.
My personal conviction is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is news that is worth sharing. It is worth broadcasting aloud because it is Good News. More on why it is good news in a short while. Second, Jesus calls all who follow Him to proclaim this Good News. Third, the gospel of Jesus changes lives. It has the ability to bring about radical transformation in the lives of those who believe.
Although Christmas is the most celebrated holiday in the Christian calendar the world over, Easter is the most important period, because it was the time that saw the fulfilment of Jesus’ life purpose on earth. He came to die for the sins of the world, be buried and rise again on the third day. That in a nutshell is the message of the gospel. Jesus came, lived, was crucified and buried, but rose from the dead on the third day – overcoming death and paying the price for the sins of the world.
As we approach Easter, I have chosen to use a question as the headline theme for the short articles that follow: ‘What is Easter all about?’ In seeking to answer this question, we find that the Bible gives us a number of perspectives to the gospel, all leading to the same end point. The first perspective that I want to present is that Easter is a message of God’s love. This raises a number of questions: What do we mean by God’s love? Why God’s love? So what? How does that apply to me? What, if anything, do I need to do?
The Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8). The implication of this simple statement is staggering. It means that God is far more than simply loving; He is love. Period! Everything about God is love. In other words, if you take love out of God you have something less or something other than God. The Bible also tells us that God has loved us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
Although God is love, He is also holy (that means totally pure), righteous and just (Isaiah 6:3; 1Peter 1:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:6). Because God is pure or holy He cannot tolerate that which is impure or sinful. Sin is anything – thoughts, attitudes, words, or actions – that violate God’s perfect standard. God is not only pure, He is also just. That means that He only does that which is right and good towards humankind. As one who is pure and just, God must punish everything that is sinful; if He is to remain faithful to His nature and character (Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23a; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
The Bible says that every human being is a sinner (Romans 6:23). Right from the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve violated God’s command to them, sin entered into the bloodstream of humanity. Even David, the greatest King that Israel ever had, recognised this in one of his Psalms (Psalms 51:5). Therefore all have sinned and come short of God’s glory or standard. There is none righteous. Sin is everything that God forbids. It is not so much what we do; it is what we are.
The picture that I presented earlier of the God who is love personified, yet one who is just and must punish sin; presents us with a big dilemma. How does God resolve that? That is where the message of His love shines through in the Easter story. He does this through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is God incarnate, fully man and fully God, lived a perfectly sinless life, willing went to the cross to shed His blood and pay the price for our sins. He did not have to come; He did not have to die. He did because of His love. That is love in extremis in action. That is the message of Easter. This well-known verse sums up what God has done for mankind through Jesus Christ His Son: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
The verse not only tells us about God’s love, but also the appropriate response that it demands. What are the key elements of that response? Let me summarise, based on this and other passages from the Bible. First, acknowledge you are sinner. Second, confess your sin to God. Third, ask God to forgive your sin because of the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross for you. Believe in your heart that Jesus died for you.
This is what the Bible says: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17). Another passage of the Bible says: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved (Romans 10:9-10)
Easter is about God’s message of love to you. What is your response to that message of love this Easter?
Copyright Emmanuel Mbakwe 2013©
If you have read this article and you are not a Christian, I would like to invite you to receive Christ as Saviour and Lord in your life by praying this prayer: ‘God in heaven, I acknowledge that I am sinner and deserve to be punished for all the wrongs I have done. I am truly sorry. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to this world. I believe He lived, died and rose again for my sins. I repent of all past sins and ask you to forgive me because Jesus. I confess and ask Jesus to come into my life and be my Saviour and Lord. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me to obey you and lead me to follow you all the days of my life. Thank you God for giving me eternal life through your Son Jesus; Amen!’
If you have understood and sincerely prayed that prayer, then visit this link and drop a message. One of our team of counsellors would be glad to contact, pray with and offer you further guidance on how you can continue with your new found faith in Jesus. God bless you.
PS: If you have been inspired, provoked or learnt something from this article, why not do any or all of the following: (i) leave some feedback or a comment, either positive or developmental; (ii) recommend it to a friend; (iii) share it with a friend. This will encourage and help me to serve you better, so together we can make a difference in our world.