Thus far we’ve seen that the old, old story is a lot older than we usually think. But what is that old story about? What is the Gospel – the Good News – of Jesus Christ?
Well, the shortest and easiest answer is given to us by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:16…
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Beloved, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God for salvation. It’s God’s answer – his response – to our sin and sinfulness, our fallenness, our brokenness, our rebellion, our foolishness, our hurts, our pain, our suffering, our lostness.
You see, God doesn’t sit in heaven detached from his creation. Even though he created us in his image and declared that his creation was good – very good in fact – we along with (and because of) our first parents Adam and Eve – have gone our own way. We’ve rebelled against God. We’ve declared ourselves in charge and have resisted him.
And even though God in his perfect holiness and righteousness would’ve been justified in pouring out his wrath upon us, in his grace he poured out his love upon us instead.
As the Scriptures that we’ve already read tell us, God sent his deeply beloved, one and only Son… to live, to die, and to be raised for us. Here’s how Paul describes the Gospel…
Romans 3:21-26 – But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–  he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
So, you see, our sinfulness, and our rebellion, and our foolishness, and our willfulness, were paid for (atoned for) on the Cross by the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scripture says that Jesus who knew no sin became sin for us.
And so, because of that great expression of love, we can know God. We can enter into a personal, deep, and abiding relationship with God. We can actually start becoming more and more like Christ in our daily lives. We can be made whole. We can receive both abundant and everlasting life. But it’s not automatic.
This is where we have to choose to enter into the story. You see… we must respond. We can’t just hear the old, old story of God’s good news and simply smile and say, “Well, that’s a nice story.” There’s no place for indifference to this story. We must BELIEVE the story.
We must place our faith – our trust – in Christ: in who he is (the very Son of God – Son, Savior, Lord).
We must trust in his Work on our behalf – his death upon the Cross for our sin and in his resurrection from the dead for our salvation.
We must repent – which means to turn away from our sinfulness, our own way, our selfishness, our rebellion, and we must turn toward God in love and faithfulness. Now, turning away from sin and turning toward God doesn’t earn us our salvation. Our salvation is a gift from God, just as Jesus is a gift to us. But it’s a gift we must open, so to speak. We must respond to it. We must receive it.
And when we do, not only are we declared righteous before a holy God, but our lives will begin to bear fruit. We’ll show that we really love and trust God and his Son Jesus Christ by seeking to live for him, desiring him, obeying him, and by loving our neighbors.
Faith and Repentance aren’t two separate things. They are two aspects of the same thing. They are, if you will, two sides of the same coin.
That’s why Jesus says in Mark 1:15, …”Repent and believe the good news!”
Beloved, this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and there is no other.
Next time we’ll conclude by showing how the old, old story of the Gospel and Holy Communion connect.
Grace and Truth,