The good news of the gospel begins with bad news!
The bad news is that you are a sinner, like everyone else who ever lived on this earth except the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sin is any violation of or failure to carry out God’s holy law, summarized in the Ten Commandments.
To be an unsaved sinner is to have a heart that is enslaved to sin, that loves sin, and that pursues sin as its inclination. That sounds bad enough as it is, but the bad news gets worse…
If you are truthful enough about it to admit it to yourself, you must recognize the sinfulness of sin—that sin is an offense against the infinitely holy, just, and eternal God who created you and requires your obedience to His law. You must also recognize the seriousness of sin—that it makes you, the sinner, deserving of the infinite and eternal punishment of God’s wrath and judgment that He pours out upon sinners in hell.
The Bible says:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18).
The bad news presents the problem!
As a sinner, you cannot enter into the presence of the holy, one living and true God, either in this life in a relationship and communion with Him, or in heaven after you die. For that, you must somehow be counted perfectly acceptable in His sight, with no guilt, a clean record, and completely fulfilled duties.
There is the problem!
No one is perfect, we all say! But that isn’t quite true. There is One who was and is perfect in every way—Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God who became man. If only you could have His perfect record counted as yours, and your bad record wiped clean. That is where the good news comes in.
The good news is very good!
Jesus Christ went to the cross and suffered the wrath of God as a Substitute and Sacrifice for all of those He came to save. He died under the wrath of God to pay the penalty they owe to God for their sins.
More than that, Jesus Christ also lived a completely perfect life without one sin in thought, or word, or act, perfectly obeying all of the law of God every second of His life. He had no sinfulness or ability to sin (Hebrews 4:15).
God requires perfection to be in His presence, but a sinner can never have his own perfection. So the sinner must have the perfection of another counted as his own. Jesus Christ provides that perfection, and God counts it as ours when we believe and trust in Christ. Through the same faith, God counts our sins to Christ’s record so that He has paid for them by His death, and we can be counted perfectly innocent in God’s sight.
We aren’t actually innocent or righteous in ourselves, but Christ provides His record to be ours. “The just One went in place of the unjust” (1 Pet. 3:18), “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation (atoning sacrifice) in His blood through faith” (Romans 3:25). “[God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
The proof that He actually accomplished our salvation by this is His bodily resurrection from the dead. If He had sin of His own, or if He had failed to satisfy the penalty for any of our sins charged to Him, He could not have arisen from the dead, because death entered the world through sin.
“How can I be saved?”
Admit before God that you are a sinner who deserves hell, and hate your sinfulness. All our sins are against God.
“Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak, and blameless when Thou dost judge” (Psalm 51:4).
Then, recognize that “Salvation is from the Lord,” as Jonah found out when he was in the worst situation of his life in the belly of the fish that swallowed him. In other words, it is God who saves us; we don’t save ourselves.
Salvation isn’t a matter of your decision, or asking Jesus into your heart, or any of those other things you may have heard. But that doesn’t make it a hopeless matter. Rather, when you realize how sinful your sins are, and that you deserve hell for them, it should drive you to depend on God alone for salvation from sin and hell. You can have salvation only through simple faith in Christ alone. Receive His gift of salvation; trust in Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.” Because you can’t save yourself, God must save you; trust in Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully man, to be your Savior.
“For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3-7).
It doesn’t matter how bad or how many your sins are. You can still be saved from the eternal hell you deserve for them, saved from the power of sin over you, saved to be raised from the dead and have eternal life in heaven’s glory. Just receive God’s gift of it to you.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” “Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved.” “Confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved.” “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (from the burden of your sins and guilt before God). “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Romans 5:1).