“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
The Gospel of Jesus Christ. And so, we now come to the heart of the matter (pun intended). All of the prior chapters have been building up to this point; they have given you the elements and foundation of the gospel “message of truth,” and this chapter brings it all together in review and summary form and then asks you to make a decision if you want to choose (accept) Christ, for while God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” and “for all to come to repentance” so that none are lost (perish) in judgment, He doesn’t force anyone – you must choose for yourself.
To recap, you have read so far in this book the truth that:
- There is a God: who created all things in heaven and on earth (“In the beginning God Created…,” “all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him”),
- We are God’s creation: we were created “in the image of God” with an eternal spirit that lives on forever, even after the body dies (“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”),
- Man disobeyed God: and sin entered the world, and we now live in a cursed, fallen world with sin, suffering, and death (“through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all mankind, because all sinned”), and Satan as “ruler of this world,”
- We are all sinners: and the punishment for sin is eternal death, which is separation from God for all eternity (“as it is written: “There is no righteous person, not even one,” “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”),
- The great Day of Judgment is coming: in which we all will stand before God to give an account of ourselves, and when all sin is judged and eradicated forever by God (“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive compensation for his deeds done through the body, in accordance with what he has done, whether good or bad,” “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”),
- God desires that none perish in the coming judgment: He desires that all have eternal life with Him (“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”),
- So God sent us a Savior: the “Christ of God,” the “Messiah,” the Anointed One of God, who was “Jesus of Nazareth,” “Immanuel” (God with us), “God manifest in the flesh”: God incarnate, the “Son of God,” the “Son of Man,” fully man and yet also fully God (“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” “He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God”),
- Jesus was born of a virgin (“‘Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and they shall name Him Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’”),
- He lived a perfect and sinless life (“He who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth,” “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin in our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”),
- He died (was crucified) on the cross (“He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”), and
- He rose again after three (3) days to life (“Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”)
You have also read how Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were foretold hundreds of years in advance, with those prophecies being completely fulfilled and evidenced in history. These fulfilled prophecies give us complete confidence and confirm to us that:
- The Bible is indeed true, and we can rely on what it tells us, and
- Jesus is indeed the “Son of God,” “God manifest in the flesh.”
This chapter further explains that:
- His death on the cross was as an atoning sacrifice (full payment) for your sins ( “although you were previously alienated and hostile in attitude, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His body of flesh through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach,” “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” “By this will, we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.”), and
- It is only through Jesus’ shed blood on the cross that you can stand before God on the Day of Judgment and declared righteous (your sins forgiven) and saved to eternal life as a child of God, and even more, a fellow heir with Christ (“There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among mankind by which we must be saved,” “…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved,” “‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord [through Christ in the manner specified in Scripture] will be saved.’”)
THE “GOOD NEWS” OF THE GOSPEL
Remember from the chapter on The Coming Great Day of Judgment that not only is God a God of love, but He is also a God of justice, and He will punish (judge) all sin (that has ever been committed) on that Day. He has further told us that “the wages [punishment] for sin is death” – eternal death, and that those who die in sin (the wicked) “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction [death], away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” This eternal death is separation from God for all eternity, for nothing sinful will be allowed to enter heaven – if you die in sin (i.e., without your sins being forgiven), you cannot enter heaven. It is sin that separates us from God. All things (and everyone) sinful will be cast into hell, “which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” who sinned for all eternity. Recall that hell was created for “the devil and his angels” who sinned, but we will also go there if we choose to remain in sin (and disobedience of God).
But the “good news” (or “good message”) of the gospel is that God in grace out of love and “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” has provided a way for us to stand before Him on That Day with our sins forgiven, declared holy and blameless (righteous and justified), and receive the gift of eternal life with Him in heaven. That way is through His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, “Jesus of Nazareth,” the Christ, the Messiah, your Redeemer, who was born of a virgin, who was both fully man and fully God, who lived a perfect and sinless life while being tempted in all things as we are, and who died (gave His life) on the cross. God tells us that He will accept His Son’s death as an atoning sacrifice (full payment) for your sins (all of them) if you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. [Note: I explain what accepting Christ means in the next section of this book and how Scripture tells us it must be done – for we must approach God on His terms, not however we feel like it].
God sent Jesus into the world to save sinners, those who are “in darkness” wandering through “the valley of the shadow of death” of this fallen world, to offer them forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” – John 3:16-18
And you were dead [spiritually] in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. – Ephesians 2:1-10
For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. – 1 Peter 3:18
…and He Himself [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. – 1 John 2:2
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. – Galatians 1:3-5
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:13-14
Jesus was hung on a cross at a place called Calvary, a hill commonly used for executing thieves and criminals by crucifixion, located just outside of the city walls of Jerusalem. This is why the “cross of Calvary” is used as another expression of referring to the death of Christ. Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice for you – for your sins. Jesus willingly surrendered His life for you; He didn’t have to, nor was He forced to. While Jesus hung on the cross (or even before), He could have called on “twelve legions of angels” out of heaven to save Him, but He chose to die on the cross out of His love for you!
Furthermore, it is only through the death (shed blood) of Christ on the cross that one can obtain forgiveness of sins – it is not by the works of man or anything we do of or for ourselves, but by the grace of God alone. Grace means “undeserved favor.” It is only the grace of God (out of love) that put Christ on the cross – so forgiveness of sins is not earned; it is a gift of God through the blood of Christ. Nor can forgiveness of sins or eternal life be bought through money, wealth, fame, or power.
God then raised Christ from the dead after three days to life so that all those who believe in and “call on the name of the Lord [Jesus]” can also have that same hope of eternal life:
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which 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 according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. – 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
At the cross, Jesus was victorious over sin, Satan, and even death itself:
…the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. – 1 John 3:8
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, so that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. – Hebrews 2:14-15
But when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Corinthians 15:54-57
… but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel… – 2 Timothy 1:8-11
“Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” – Revelation 1:17b-18
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. – Romans 8:2
So, Christ can redeem you from death and bondage under sin and Satan to have new life in Him, for all who choose to accept that gift and to accept Him. To be redeemed means to be purchased – God actually had to buy you back from bondage under sin, Satan, and death by the blood (death) of His Son.
Adam Clarke writes on the gospel message: 
A message, signifies good news, or glad tidings in general; and is evidently intended to point out, in this place, the good message or the glad tidings of great joy which God has sent to all mankind, preaching peace and reconciliation by Christ Jesus, who is Lord of all: proclaiming that he, as the promised Messiah, has, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man – for he has died for their offenses, and risen again for their justification; and that, through his grace, every sinner under the whole heaven, may turn to God, and find mercy. This is good news, glad tidings, a joyful message; and it is such to all mankind, as in it every human spirit is interested.
God “in these last days has spoken to us in [through] His Son” – through what Jesus spoke and taught as recorded in Scripture, His divinity being confirmed by the many miracles He performed, by His command over nature and by many witnesses and fulfilled prophecies. God asks you to place your complete faith, trust, and hope in Him by believing in His Son Jesus Christ and that if you do so, you will obtain eternal life. Jesus came the first time as a Savior and Suffering Servant to save those who are sick with sin but also sick of sin. He didn’t come dressed in the fine purple linen attire of kings nor the business suit of commerce. He came as a shepherd to gather the lost and broken, and He died for those who are still sinners so that they could be saved:
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly [the lost, those who are in sin] … God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. – Romans 5:6-11
The next time Jesus comes (when He returns) will be on the Great Day of Judgment when “Jesus is revealed with all His holy angels in skies of fire” in power and glory to judge the world.
Below is an excerpt from the book The Pilgrim’s Progress; it is a book I highly recommend reading soon after you finish this one: 
Then Christian began, and said, I will ask you a question. How came you to think at first of doing what you do now [becoming a Christian, following Christ]?
HOPEFUL: Do you mean, how came I at first to look after the good of my soul?
CHRISTIAN: Yes, that is my meaning.
HOPEFUL: I continued a great while in the delight of those things which were seen and sold at our fair [this world]; things which I believe now would have, had I continued in them still, drowned me in perdition and destruction.
CHRISTIAN: What things were they?
HOPEFUL: All the treasures and riches of the world. Also, I delighted much in rioting, reveling, drinking, swearing, lying, uncleanness, Sabbath-breaking, and what not, that tended to destroy the soul. But I found at last, by hearing and considering of things that are divine, which, indeed, I heard of you, as also of beloved Faithful, that was put to death for his faith and good living in Vanity Fair, that the end of these things is death, [Rom. 6:21-23]; and that for these things‘ sake, the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience. [Eph. 5:6].
CHRISTIAN: And did you presently fall under the power of this conviction?
HOPEFUL: No, I was not willing presently to know the evil of sin, nor the damnation that follows upon the commission of it; but endeavored, when my mind at first began to be shaken with the word, to shut mine eyes against the light thereof.
CHRISTIAN: But what was the cause of your carrying of it thus to the first workings of God‘s blessed Spirit upon you?
HOPEFUL: The causes were, 1. I was ignorant that this was the work of God upon me. I never thought that by awakenings for sin, God at first begins the conversion of a sinner. 2. Sin was yet very sweet to my flesh, and I was loth to leave it. 3. I could not tell how to part with mine old companions, their presence and actions were so desirable unto me. 4. The hours in which convictions were upon me, were such troublesome and such heart-affrighting hours, that I could not bear, no not so much as the remembrance of them upon my heart.
CHRISTIAN: Then, as it seems, sometimes you got rid of your trouble?
HOPEFUL: Yes, verily, but it would come into my mind again; and then I should be as bad, nay, worse than I was before.
CHRISTIAN: Why, what was it that brought your sins to mind again?
HOPEFUL: Many things; as,
- If I did but meet a good man in the streets; or,
- If I have heard any read in the Bible; or,
- If mine head did begin to ache; or,
- If I were told that some of my neighbors were sick; or,
- If I heard the bell toll for some that were dead; or,
- If I thought of dying myself; or,
- If I heard that sudden death happened to others.
- But especially when I thought of myself, that I must quickly come to judgment.
CHRISTIAN: And could you at any time, with ease, get off the guilt of sin, when by any of these ways it came upon you? HOPEFUL: No, not I; for then they got faster hold of my conscience; and then, if I did but think of going back to sin, (though my mind was turned against it,) it would be double torment to me. CHRISTIAN: And how did you do then?
HOPEFUL: I thought I must endeavor to mend my life; for else, thought I, I am sure to be damned.
WHY DID JESUS HAVE TO DIE?
I have explained that we must rely on what God says (as recorded in the Bible) about sin, life, and death, not on what man (or the science of man) thinks on such matters. What we think should be the punishment for sin is not what God says is the punishment for sin because our mortal, finite minds cannot fully comprehend, and grossly underestimates, the nature and severity of sin, particularly when compared to an absolutely holy God:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” – Revelation 4:8
God’s justice can only be satisfied by a perfect, sinless, sacrificial offering as payment for your sins. There is nothing you can do to earn (e.g., through “meritorious works”), achieve through your own merits, purchase (God can’t be bribed), “be good enough,” “be religious enough,” or “be spiritual enough” to be called blameless, sinless, righteous, and holy in God’s eyes. You can only be saved from the coming judgment by having someone else (who is without sin) pay your penalty for sin. In order to do that, you would have to be without sin yourself (i.e., live a perfect and sinless life), and no man, not a single one in all of human history, has been able to do that – except Jesus. Prior chapters have explained that you simply cannot live a perfect and sinless life yourself – it is impossible, for we are all sinners! Someone else needs to make atonement for you to God; this someone must be perfect, without sin (holy and blameless) themselves before God.
Scripture tells us that God accepts Jesus’ death as full payment for your sins – for He was “holy and blameless,” and “without sin,” “the [spotless] Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus was born of a virgin, and He lived a perfect and sinless life while still being tempted in all things as we are, and He still willingly laid down His life. It is therefore only through Jesus’ sacrificial death that our sins are forgiven, and we are redeemed (purchased) from (spiritual) death to life.
God allows you to be covered by Jesus’ perfect righteousness, so you can stand blameless before God. In effect, you “put on” Jesus’ own righteousness like a “white” garment by believing in Him – so you will be clothed in His righteousness on Judgment Day. Christ’s righteousness is counted as your own! Jesus took your sins on Himself: “He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him [God] holy and blameless and beyond reproach.” What this all means is that your sins are erased and completely forgotten “as far as the east is from the west” (i.e., as if they never occurred), and you are declared “NOT GUILTY” of sin, and therefore not deserving of the punishment for sin, which is eternal death. Amazing and amen!
“‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.’” – Revelation 3:4-5
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean” …
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow.” – Isaiah 1:16,18
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us. – Psalm 103:12
Even further, it is through Jesus that we become “children of God” – in fact, “fellow heirs” with Christ. We are actually adopted into the family of God:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:12-13
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. – Romans 8:14-17
Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. – Galatians 4:1-7
Yes, you choose (through free will) whether you want to be in either the family of God or the family of Satan. Scripture indicates that those who don’t explicitly make a choice are by default a child of Satan (“you are of your father the devil”) – so no action or choice on your part will in actuality turn out to have been a choice on Judgment Day. You must actively choose to disown Satan and accept Christ to become a child of God. And just like here on Earth, adoption is a costly process. In human terms, we must spend considerable amounts of time, effort, and money to complete the process of adopting a child. And for God to adopt us as sons, He had to redeem us from sin, and to do that, He had to sacrifice His own Son to death!
That paragraph goes by so quickly, but please take a moment to stop and reflect more deeply on what it means: The eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, all-powerful God and Creator of the entire universe, the One who simply spoke all creation into existence, the Source of all life itself, wants to adopt you as His son, so that you can live with Him forever in eternal life! And He wants that so much so that He died for you.
THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Jesus is also described as the “Good Shepherd” with us as His sheep who are “lost” and have “gone astray”; He willingly gave His life to rescue us:
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” – John 10:11-18
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him. – Isaiah 53:6
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. – 1 Peter 2:21-25
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” – John 10:27-28
Now, to be honest, when I first read that God calls us “sheep,” I felt offended. He created us, so why is He calling us mere sheep? Sheep are pretty dumb in reality. But the older I get and the more I see how we humans act and behave, the more I see that the analogy is correct – for we are in the endless pursuit of lustful and fleshly desires, without regard for others in large measure, and completely oblivious to the fact that we lost in sin, wandering aimlessly in the “darkness” and “the valley of the shadow of death” of this fallen world under bondage to sin, Satan and death. What results is man’s endless behavior of fraud, greed, corruption, lying, cheating, stealing, raping, pillaging, fornicating, never-ending wars, and the constant lust for power, fame, and fortune and the things of this world.
And have you ever watched sheep? They do, in fact, wander aimlessly without direction and are oblivious to any danger that might be around them – they are entirely helpless and without defense. We are also defenseless against the spiritual forces of darkness and evil which are arrayed against us under Satan; without God, you have no chance whatsoever of withstanding your enemy. That is written about in the book of Jude, where men “reject authority, and revile angelic majesties” out of ignorance and pride.
Friend, I urge you to stop being a “sheep,” wandering aimlessly and lost in the “darkness” of this world and addicted to sin.
JESUS CAME TO SAVE SINNERS
Jesus came to save sinners (not the self-righteous), no matter what they have done:
“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:32
To approach God, you must admit you’re a sinner and come to God in humility – right now, today – and receive His wonderful gift of eternal life in Christ offered through God’s “kindness,” “compassion,” “mercy,” “grace,” and “love.” It doesn’t matter what sins you’ve committed, nor how long you’ve committed them. No sin is too great to be forgiven. God’s “lovingkindness,” “grace,” and “mercy” are massive! Remember that God used:
- A murderer to lead the Jews out of Egypt (Moses),
- A prostitute to help protect the Jews (Rahab),
- Another murderer who became a great New Testament apostle (Paul), etc.
No matter what you have done, Jesus offers forgiveness to you, unlike men who keep a grudge and seek revenge for years (decades even). The apostle Paul had persecuted and even helped put to death those who believed in Christ, and yet Jesus forgave him, and then Paul went on to become one of the greatest saints of all time! He can do just the same for you. Don’t decide for yourself that you cannot be forgiven for what you may have done – let Jesus decide.
Peter once asked Jesus how many times he should forgive those who sinned against him (see Matthew 18:21-22), probably expecting to hear the number three, or five and even suggested the number seven (i.e., a small number of times, a number that we humans think is reasonable). However, the Lord answered with the number “seventy times seven” (i.e., 490). Now the actual number given here isn’t the important part (we are not to interpret that as a literal 490 times we are to forgive sins); what’s important is the magnitude of the number – it’s an ENORMOUS number which was far, far above anything that Peter might have even remotely imagined in his own mind! This again demonstrates that the depths of the “love,” “mercy” and “grace” of God are very great indeed – far greater than what the mind of man thinks or expects is reasonable!
ENTER THROUGH THE NARROW GATE
It is written:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14
It is further written:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” – John 14:6
“…let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:10-12
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. – 1 Timothy 2:5-7
The gate to heaven and eternal life is called narrow (strait, difficult) because there is only one “door” through which you can enter (that door is Christ), and you will have to stop pursuing the things of this world, repent of your sins, and turn from your own selfish, lustful, sinful desires and instead pursue the things of God and His Christ. Jesus is that narrow gate – The Son of God, the Son of Man, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Hope, our Lord, our God, and our King!
So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. – John 10:7-9
Accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is the only way designated by God for all men to obtain eternal life. There is no other way to heaven, despite the many false/popular teachings of man and the myriad of mysticism, religions, “traditions,” and man-made schemes that abound in the world! The various man-made religions of this world offer no path to eternal life. Know also that simply going to church, being a “good person,” doing “good deeds” (i.e., “meritorious works”), performing religious rituals, or “traditions” will not save you to eternal life.
The easy (wide) way is to simply go on in life as you always have in sin, without regard for God or others. That is also the worldly, popular way: “I’m gonna get what I can get now, by any means possible, for I only care about ‘me and mine’…and when I die, so what…it’s just all over, and I go into nothingness.” But that broad way leads to eternal death, and as I have explained, you will not go into “nothingness” at death. Death is not an extinction event (our ending); it is the separation of the soul from the body. Your soul lives on forever; the only question is where – in heaven or in hell.
Please pay close attention to the fact that the verses above specifically say that Jesus is the only mediator between man and God – not Mary, or the Pope, or the dead, or angels, or false spirits, or idols, or men, or man-made religions. Also, we are not to pray to Mary; that is a false teaching of Roman Catholicism (see Beware the Wolves).
TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION
The gospel message of hope is open to all who are “thirsty!” “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” so that none are lost in judgment. Do you want the “water of life” offered by Christ?
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. – Revelation 22:17
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. – 1 Timothy 2:3-4
Today, if you find these words stirring your heart, please don’t ignore them. That is a sign that God is calling out to you, right here and right now. For it is written:
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—for He says,
“At the acceptable time I listened to you,
And on the day of salvation I helped you.”
Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation.” – 2 Corinthians 6:1-2
“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.” – Hebrews 3:15
The verses above remind you that there may not be a tomorrow for you (or me or any of us). I urge you, therefore, to take it very seriously if you feel God calling you and moving in your heart. Don’t harden your heart to that calling (like Pharaoh did); such hardening is the result of pride. We should also greatly heed the dire warning that is given to us in Scripture, for there comes a time when God will no longer strive to reach those who have hardened their hearts beyond the point of no return:
Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh.” – Genesis 6:3
YOU HAVE A CHOICE
So, friend, you now have some choices to make which will stand for all eternity. You must first decide whether God exists or not, for He is the author of all life. You will have to choose between God (and life) or sin, Satan, and death:
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” – Psalm 14:1
Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6
“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15
And will you choose to follow the ways of man and the ways of this world (which lead to eternal death) or the ways (and wisdom) of God which lead to eternal life?
There is a way which seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death. – Proverbs 14:12
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
Fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. – Proverbs 3:5-7
Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar. – Romans 3:4
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts on them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and its collapse was great.” – Matthew 7:24-27
Will you continue to think yourself wise in your own eyes, or will you humble yourself and get down on your knees before God and acknowledge Him for Who He is and admit that you’re a sinner in need of a Savior, repent of your sins, and ask for forgiveness with a contrite heart? It is human pride and arrogance that in large measure causes us to deny God and His Christ. Furthermore, do you want Jesus to be your Attorney on the great Day of Judgment, or do you want to go before God on that Day and try to plead your own case? Remember, Jesus is also going to be the Judge – and this Judge knows every single thing you have ever thought, said, and done! You can ensure yourself a verdict of “NOT GUILTY” of sin even before the trial starts by choosing life in Christ! Amazing!
Are you willing to become “as a child” again and realize that you don’t know the truth and that you must start out again as a “child of God” instead of a child of Satan, learning God’s truth instead of man’s truth? And as a child trust’s their parents, are you willing to trust in the Lord? We are told:
At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” – Matthew 11:25-27
…and [Jesus] said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3-4
Or will you continue on as you always have, thinking that all this God, Bible, Jesus, and Judgment to come stuff is “foolishness”? Yes, it is written that many will, in fact, consider the gospel “message of truth” to be “foolishness”:
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. – 1 Corinthians 1:18-21
You must decide for yourself whether this gospel message is “foolishness” or “truth.” You must pick one or the other, for there is no middle ground. You will have to decide whether you wish to continue in darkness or light. The Lord says “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever”; it is the Holy Spirit who is trying to “convict” you of your sin(s) and it is He who is “striving” with you to come to repentance and turn to the Lord Jesus as your Savior. If you continue to resist the pleadings and “striving” of the “Spirit of Truth,” you are “blaspheming” the Holy Spirit and there remains no other recourse for you to be led into truth (e.g., that Jesus is Lord and Savior, the gospel message of truth, etc.) and salvation. This is what Scripture refers to as “blaspheming the Holy Spirit.”
We are told that the “fear of the Lord” is the beginning of wisdom, for it is only from God’s wisdom that you can obtain life, and we can only find God’s wisdom in the Bible. Scripture also tells us that “men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” You can continue your sinful behavior if you choose to, but God through Christ can bring you out of that darkness and into the light. When you accept Christ, He sets you free from bondage under sin and all those behaviors; this is what He means when He says His “burden is light.”
Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:21-23
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” – John 8:31-36
Truth be told, I also thought the “Word of God” was nonsense and “foolishness” for many (many) years, but I have come “out of darkness into His marvelous light,” and I’ve learned that there is more wisdom, life, and power in a single syllable of Scripture than there is in all the atom bombs created by man and all the books written throughout history and stored up in the great libraries of the world. While mankind seems only intent on endless, nonstop destruction and killing, Jesus came to give life, and to give it “abundantly”:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10
IT TAKES COURAGE
Friend, if you’ve read this far, it’s right here, right now, at this very place in the book, that you face the greatest danger. The Bible tells us that the way forward to eternal life takes courage, strength, boldness, and perseverance! It’s right here also that you can decide to reject all this “God and Jesus stuff” as “nonsense” and “foolishness,” stop reading, and turn back, thinking to yourself, “I’m just going to live my life how I want to – and when I die, that’s it; it’s all over to nothingness.” I again remind you that that just isn’t the case! All of us will stand before the Lord God on that great Day of Judgment! God’s Word is truth, and nothing we think or do will alter that fact. You are responsible for your own soul; all I can do is try to help you understand the truth of Scripture through the preaching of “the message of truth.”
So, what do you do now? Do you still continue denying that God even exists? Do you continue in sin taking “the way [which] is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it,” or do you choose to “enter through the narrow gate” to eternal life, which is through Jesus Christ? It’s also at this very point that you are most likely to make up excuses for not believing, for continuing in your own way, however you want, living as you always have. I’ve been there. I’ve told myself whatever lie or excuse I wanted to so I could continue to live how I wanted to. But you’re only fooling yourself. You may even try to talk yourself out of believing this stuff – I’ve been there too. Maybe you are different than me, but I doubt it. Or maybe you’re trapped in an addiction like I was. It doesn’t matter what kind, for they are all the same at the core: lack of hope combined with chemical dependency. But Christ can take that from you also and give you hope in return!
It is also right here and right now where you will face doubts – as to how could all of this be true? Now it’s natural to have questions and doubts about all this, for this is a very weighty matter we are discussing here. Even the great John the Baptist had to face his doubt at one time. Of John, we are told that “among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” John was even “filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb,” a prophet of God, wholly set apart to be the forerunner for Christ. John had even seen Jesus confirmed by the voice of God Himself at Jesus’ baptism (which John had administered personally): “…and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him [Jesus] in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came from heaven: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased.’” And yet, even John had a moment of doubt, for we see it written:
Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” – Matthew 11:2-6
While in prison, John inquired of Jesus again as to whether He was truly the Christ as foretold in Scripture. Jesus reminded John that the miracles He performed matched Old Testament Scripture and confirmed His deity claim. We are not told, but it is likely, that John went back through Old Testament Scriptures to re-confirm his belief that Jesus was, in fact, the Christ, the Messiah. But here is the important part: John addressed his doubt head-on; he didn’t let it overcome and defeat him, or worse, cause him to not believe.
Please review the previous chapters of this book and even seek out other resources if needed to address any lingering questions or areas of doubt that you may still have. Maybe you still have questions on Science vs. the Bible, on Jesus and His life, death, and resurrection, or on His claim to be God. But, at some point, you will have to decide whether you believe the words of man (the “wisdom of this world”) or the “Word of God.” You will find that in nearly all cases relating to the spiritual war we are engaged in with the forces of evil/darkness, it is the popular, trendy, and majority opinions of man that are actually the wrong way – following the herd will lead you to eternal death. Following God leads to life.
Know it is also at this time if you decide to keep going and accept Christ that you will almost certainly come under the most ferocious (spiritual) attack of your life. Others will try to talk you out of it. They will mock you and try to tell you this is all “garbage,” “sheer nonsense,” and taunt you saying, “Why are you dumb enough to believe all that religion stuff?” You will almost certainly face ridicule, taunting, insults, jokes against you, and maybe even persecution and tribulation(s) in going forward to eternal life. But forward in courage you must go – if you want eternal life with God and His Christ!
While it always seems to be “cool” for man to be part of the “rebels” (the resistance, if you will), in this particular (spiritual) war, it is eternally wiser to be one of the “saints”; for God and His Christ (and His saints) will prevail – indeed, He has already prevailed. Christ has already won final victory over sin and death at the cross (“it is finished”). There is nothing whatsoever that anyone or anything on, under, or above the earth can do to change that!
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:37-39
To continue on further from this point, you must be fully convinced in your own mind that Jesus is, in fact, who He said He was: God in the flesh. We each have free will to choose Christ or not. If we don’t want to be with Jesus in this life, we don’t have to be. But also understand that if you don’t want Him in this life, you won’t be with Him in the next life either – which is eternal.
Hopefully, you are now asking: How do I accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior? It’s a huge step you are about to make. It is the biggest step you will ever take in your entire life, and it will change your life forever – in a good, even great, way! In the next section of this book, I show you how to accept Christ and be “born again” – the first step, and by far the most important step, on your path to eternal life.
FALSE TEACHING(S) YOU WILL ENCOUNTER:
- Atheism (there is no God)
- The Bible is simply fictional “myths, folklore, and poetry”
- Universalism (i.e., any name, or any religion, even one you make up, or even no belief at all, can save you to eternal life)
- Annihilation after death
- Cults that deny Christ
And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:9
“I love those who love me;
And those who diligently seek me will find me.” – Proverbs 8:17
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:8
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” – Matthew 5:6
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!”
However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. – Romans 10:11-17
“But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4:23-24
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My [Jesus] word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” – John 5:24-29
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him [you] up on the last day.” – John 6:35-40
“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. For David says of Him,
‘I saw the Lord always in my presence;
For He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.
‘Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted;
Moreover my flesh also will live in hope;
Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades,
Nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
‘You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.’
“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’
Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. – Acts 2:22-42
…knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He [Jesus] was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. – 1 Peter 1:18-21
But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He [God] would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:21-26
Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” – John 4:13-14
The Lord performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust. – Psalm 103:6-14
Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” – John 7:37-38
 Clarke, Adam. (1810-1826), The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ/Commentary on the Whole Bible, A Commentary and Critical Notes, New York.
 Bunyan, John. (1678/2018), The Pilgrim’s Progress, (London/Holy Spirit Prints).
Anderson, R. John. "2.3 The "Good News" of the Gospel." EachDay.org. Access date: June 4, 2023. https://eachday.org/part-ii-our-hope/2-3-the-good-news-of-the-gospel/