The Gospel is Not an Option

Whenever you see the word “must” in the Bible, remember that it is a word of divine necessity. It is not an option or a suggestion; it is not exclusive to some—it is universal to all. Belief or unbelief in its truth does not diminish its reality in any way.

There are three “musts” in the Gospel that will stand the test of time:

  • In John 3:7, Jesus said, “You must be born again.”
  • In John 3:14, Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.”
  • In John 4:24, Jesus said, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

All three of these Gospel “musts” are vital elements of the good news. The new birth, the cross, and the worship of God in spirit and truth are non-negotiables. The fact that we must be born again and given a new nature tells us that we can be, if God chooses to give us His divine life by His Spirit through the Gospel. The second “must” emphasizes the utter and absolute necessity of Christ’s work on Calvary’s tree. Without the work of Christ at Calvary, there would be no atonement or forgiveness for our sins, no heaven, and no salvation.

It is the work of Christ on Calvary and the work of the Spirit in our hearts, applying to us the work of Christ’s redemption, that makes it possible for us to worship the Father in spirit and truth.

Here is a fourth “must” that you must deal with. It’s located in Acts 4:12—

“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.”

 In Romans 1:16, the Apostle Paul declares,

 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God [not that it presents or suggests the power of God] for salvation [without human manipulation or invention] to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

 Is the Gospel an option for salvation? Absolutely not! Not according Jesus, Paul, or any of the other apostles! It is not an option for the man on Wall Street or the one on skid row. It is not an option for the municipal judge or the prison inmate. What about the man in the dark jungles of the Amazon or in the mountains of Nepal? If any man is to be saved, the Bible declares that Jesus is the one and only Savior, and the Gospel is the good news about Him. (Cf. Rom.2:11-16)


The Great Gospel

If an unbelieving friend came up to you and asked, “What’s so great about the Gospel, anyways?” what would you tell him or her?

It seems like a slam dunk kind of question, doesn’t it? And my guess is that most Christians would readily give a number of answers related to how they have been forgiven of all of their sins, saved from hell, given the gift of eternal life, and had their life completely transformed. What’s wrong with these answers? Absolutely nothing. We ought to bring up all of these amazing benefits and more. But there is more greatness to the Gospel than its benefits to me or you. The greatness of the Gospel, ultimately, is its unequaled display of God’s character and attributes. That is, the death of Jesus Christ for sinners and His bodily resurrection from the dead (1 Cor.15:3-4) reveal more about who God is than any other event or action in the history of the world. In the Gospel, God is shown to be:

  1. Holy—The cross demonstrated God’s hatred of sin, for His eyes are too pure to approve evil. (Hab.1:13)
  2. Just—The cross demonstrated God’s perfect punishment of sin. (Rom.6:23; 2 Cor.5:21)
  3. Righteous—The cross revealed God to be right in both punishing sin and justifying the sinner at the cross. (Rom.3:23ff)
  4. Merciful—The cross was the ultimate demonstration of God withholding punishment from those who deserve it by placing their punishment on another. (Is.53)
  5. Gracious—The cross was the ultimate demonstration of God freely giving life and joy and peace to those who do not deserve it. (Eph.2:8-10)
  6. Loving—The cross demonstrated His indescribable love in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. (Rom.5:8; John 3:16)
  7. Wise—The Gospel is the greatest demonstration of God’s unsearchable mind and inscrutable plans. (Rom.11:33)

These attributes of God, along with many others, were revealed in the progressive revelation of the Old Testament, but in the Gospel they are all put on full display in one moment, one event, one act of obedience that forever changed the world. In the end, the Gospel is great because it shows us our great God.


These Kids Are Driving Me Crazy

“Kennedy, you are driving me nuts,” says my 4 year old son, Kai, to his 6 year old sister. Um, where did he learn that from? That would be me, his mama. I have told my kids they are driving me nuts, crazy, insane! Parenting is not for wimps. Or, if you are a wimp, parenting will shake you out of that. It’s so tough constantly dealing with my own sin, let alone the sin of two little people in my home. There are two things I want my kids to see in our home: 1. They need Jesus; and 2. Their parents need Jesus. And, not necessarily in that order! As we go throughout our day, I often say to my kids, “Choose kindness! Choose love!” And then we talk about how it’s hard to choose kindness and love. And, really our natural bent is to choose to be mean and hateful. In those moments when my kids are at each other’s throats and I’m frustrated to no end dealing with attitudes and actions (my own and my children’s), right then is the perfect divinely appointed time for me to show my kids: 1. You need Jesus; and 2. Mommy needs Jesus. This is how I will pass down the Gospel to my children.

There is a children’s song I heard that has a line in it that says, “Love, love, love, love. The Gospel in one word is love. Love your neighbor as yourself…” Oh how wrong that song is. I don’t want my kids to think if they reach this expectation of always choosing kindness and choosing love, that makes them acceptable to God. No, no. I say, “Choose kindness! Choose love! It’s hard to do that, isn’t it? And this is why we need Jesus.”

So, when attitudes are flaring (including my own) and we are all driving each other nuts, THAT is the place where Jesus will meet us and where the Gospel will become real. After all, the Gospel is meant for the broken.


That money talks, that I’ll not deny, I heard it once: it said, ‘goodbye’”—Richard Armour, American Poet.

Our attitude about handling money is just as, if not more, important as our ability to earn it. Of all the subjects we are taught and forced to digest in our education system (primary school through university), finances is one of the most neglected. Some are experiencing financial difficulties due to poor decisions and recklessness while others have fallen prey to circumstances, e.g. legal woes, medical expenses, loss of employment, or a change in family structure. Providing reasonable and necessary care for family members who are unable to support themselves can add to the strain, but it is your responsibility. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).  No matter which category you find yourself in, bills and surprises come at us steadily. The stress of not having enough funds available to cover expenses can be very emotional. When this happens, it is easy to become distracted and discouraged.

The releasing of debt is a familiar theme throughout Scripture. Being in debt is equated to being in bondage (Proverbs 22:7). In particular, the New Testament illustrates this with parables about financial debt that highlight God’s mercy and forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35; Luke 7:36-50). Modern bankruptcy laws are derived from debt forgiveness laws contained in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 15:1-2). These provisions were in place to allow the members of society to restructure and regroup. Conversely, the Bible also addresses those who borrow money without any intention of repaying it (Psalms 37:21; Ecclesiastes 5:5). Peering through scriptural lenses allows us to properly view and examine our lifestyles and the condition of our hearts.

No matter where you find yourself on the spectrum—struggling or heading towards filing for bankruptcy—you have to remember that only you are able to take control through a well-devised plan and course of action. Do not succumb to feelings of guilt or shame. Treat it like a serious wound: stop the bleeding and work on healing. Take inventory of your needs vs. your wants. Be willing to give up some non-essentials and/or explore healthy opportunities for earning more income. Relying on your number to come in or trusting in debt consolidation companies will only add further insult to injury. The more you educate yourself about money and handling finances, the better equipped you will be to proceed. Many churches offer the Financial Peace University course, which will assist you with creating and sticking to a personalized budget while strategically attacking and extinguishing debt. Also, there are many books, workbooks, and templates that can be utilized as you seek to be a good and faithful steward of your resources.