The Gospel: Where We Find Our Hope

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." 
- 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NIV)

In my first two posts, I discussed what it means to have a confident "even if" faith and what it looks like to live a life which reflects that kind of faith.

In the second post, I stated: 

The two things that should compel us to live with bold faith are: 1) Christ paid the ultimate price for our reconciliation and has made us His ambassadors, and 2) this world desperately needs to know the hope of Jesus Christ because it is dying in utter hopelessness without Him.

In this third post, I want for us to consider the Gospel and ask ourselves these questions: What is the hope we have in Christ and How has it made a difference in our lives?

Our Hope

Let's first look at the first question. What is the hope we have in Christ?

Most of us have heard the Gospel story of Jesus' birth, death, resurrection, and ascension many times before. 

We know that He was born in Bethlehem, that He walked this Earth for thirty-three years, and that He died a cruel death on a Roman torture device known as a cross. We also know that the story does not end in His death and burial, but that three days later, He rose from the dead and later on ascended into heaven to sit at God's right hand.

But sometimes, I think, we lose sight of the weight of the Gospel. Sometimes we seem to forget that the reason Jesus did those things is to restore our sinful souls. And the good news somehow seems to lose its luster - and maybe even appear irrelevant. 

As a result, we begin slipping away from the Gospel and dwell more on the temporal things of this life (money, cars, even relationships with other people) and less on the Truth of God's Word. We start moving toward sin instead of fleeing from it. We forget our calling to be God's representatives (or "ambassadors," as Paul puts it in his second letter to the Corinthians) to the world. And as we lose sight of the Truth of the Gospel and the weight of what our Savior sacrificed for us, the commission Jesus gave to make disciples of all nations becomes less and less important.

We develop a faulty hope.

In the verses I shared at the beginning of this post, Paul tells the Corinthian church that the Gospel message he had passed on to them was of first importance. Above everything else he taught them, the good news of Jesus was his priority, and he wanted them to see it in the same light.

Why is the Gospel of first importance?

Let's start at the beginning and look at the story of Scripture with fresh eyes.

Creation. Fall. Redemption.

One of the most significant things I learned in my Bible college studies was how to understand the overarching Story of Scripture. If you are not familiar with the concept, it entails viewing the Bible as a whole through the lens of narrative structure, or as having a main plot that carries through from Genesis to Revelation.

The plot goes like this:

  • Creation (Introduction, Setting of the Story)
    • Genesis 1-2: God creates the universe in all its beauty and perfection. He places plants and animals on the earth. And He creates these unique beings, called humans, who are made in His Image. The way He sets up His creation is parallel to the imagery used to describe ancient constructions of temples, leading some scholars to say that the Earth was to be like a Temple for God. In this "Temple," God places "living Images" (not to be confused with the lifeless images placed by men in temples to their "gods" later on) of Himself which would function as caretakers and representatives of His character and self.  He creates a Garden and places two trees in it, one containing fruit that would bring "the knowledge of good and evil" and the other being the "tree of life."
    • Fall (Conflict)
      • Genesis 3:1-6: God tells Adam not to eat any fruit off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan, once an angel with a high position, disguises himself as a snake and convinces Eve (and technically also Adam, who was present for the whole conversation) that God was fooling His Images into thinking they were true representatives of Himself, when in fact they could not possibly be like Him since they did not know both good and evil. He tells them that the only way to be like God was to eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So they ate it.
      • Genesis 3:7-24: Adam and Eve, realizing what they had done, hid in the Garden. And God came along and asked them what had happened. Both of them made excuses, blaming someone other than themselves for their disobedience. Due to their decision to disobey His command, and the fact that their eyes were opened to evil, He banished them from the Garden so that they could not have access to the "tree of life" and gain the ability to live forever in their sinful state if they were to eat it.
      • Redemption (Resolution)
        • Genesis 12-50: Generations went by and along came a man named Abram. God called Abram out of a pagan nation and away from idol worshipping to follow Him. So, Abram took his wife and nephew to follow where God told him to go. In the midst of leading them to the land of Canaan, God promised Abram that he would become the "father of many nations" and that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan as their own in the future. Abram's name was changed to Abraham and God promised to give him and his wife a son, who would be named Isaac. As the years went by, the family expanded in each generation, finally resulting in the twelve sons of Jacob, who would later become known as the tribes of Israel. They eventually ended up in slavery, which is seen in the first several chapters of Exodus.
        • The remainder of the Old Testament: God called Israel out of slavery and back to His Promised Land. After a long journey full of trials, disobedience and a lot of lessons taught, they arrive and begin conquering the nations in the land. Over time, throughout Israel's history, there is a pattern of disobedience, exile and reconciliation. And through it all, the love and mercy of God are shown to a people who wavered with every chance they got and forgiveness was extended to a nation that would fall into unrepentance within a short while afterward.
        • New Testament: God sent His Son Jesus into the world to walk the dusty roads of Earth and to show the way to Him. Why? Because no longer would He allow mankind to continue in the cycle of disobedience, exile, and restoration anymore. He desires a total restoration in which the bent toward disobedience is no longer present and people can live reconciled lives for eternity, no longer consigned to an eternity as outcasts. 
      This is why the Gospel is so important. We are sinful, fallen human beings with no hope in and of ourselves. We are incapable of making totally pure and good choices. We are broken in every way, and on our own, we are irreparable. 

      We are like the Prodigal Son, who took his inheritance before his father died, and threw it away on worthless things. And all we have to show for it is pig slop.

      But God. In His wisdom, and deep compassion, chose to reach down to the world He created, the disobedient people He formed, and provide a way for us to be reconciled to Him.

      His kindness draws us, just like the memories of his kind father drew the Prodigal Son home. And when we start walking toward Him, He sees us from where He's been watching down the road the whole time, and He takes off running toward us.

      That's the Gospel. That's the Good News. That is the message of Hope we have to share with a world that is crumbling under the weight of sin, shame, and exile.

      He Makes All the Difference

      The second question we need to ask ourselves is how has the hope we have in Christ made a difference in our lives?

      I think all of us who are followers of Christ can look back on our lives and see the changes that have come as a result of submitting our beings to Him. We all can see the shift in attitude, in motives, even in the interests we pursue.

      Or at least, we should be able to see these things.

      Friends, let me suggest that if we have truly grasped the height, depth and width of God's love for us and the grace He has extended to us through the work of Christ on the Cross, our lives would be completely changed.

      2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that in Christ, we are made new and the things of the past are gone. In the context, this verse is rooted in the concept that we are now ambassadors for Christ's kingdom and our lives should reflect His ways because we represent Him to the world.

      Titus 2:11-13 tells us that the grace of God trains us to live holy lives and to turn away from worldly things.

      Romans 12:2 says that we should no longer act in ways like the world, but that we should be transformed.

      So, let's think about and ponder the changes that have occurred in our lives since coming to Christ. And let's consider whether our lives reflect the reality that Jesus Christ is Lord of our lives.


      1. Listen to this song by Ryan Stevenson and think about how the Gospel has impacted your life:

      2. How has the Gospel made a difference in your life? What things have changed? What has not changed?

      3. Is there anything that still needs to change? How might your life be different if those things change? How might your relationship with God change?

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