Content of the Gospel and Discipleship[1]

Ticket to Heaven
(courtesy ChristArt)

Compiled by Spencer D Gear [1a]

Some people ask me questions such as these:

  • What must I accept and do in order to become a Christian?
  • What’s the difference between a real Christian and one who goes to church?
  • What must I do to receive salvation?
  • How can I get to heaven and avoid hell?

 The following broad outline is designed to answer these questions.

A. You must understand God’s holiness.

 “God’s holiness means that he is separated from sin and devoted to seeking his own honor.”[2]

Proverbs 9:10; Psalm 111:10; Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7; 15:33; Micah 6:9.

1. God is utterly holy and His law, therefore, demands perfect holiness.

See Leviticus 11:44-45; Joshua 24:19; I Samuel 2:2; 6:20.

2. Even the New Testament gospel requires this holiness.

See I Peter 1:15-16; Hebrews 12:14.

3. Because the Lord God Almighty is holy, He hates sin.

Exodus 20:5.

4. Sinners cannot stand before Him

¨ What is sin? “Sin is any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature. . . Sin is more than simply painful and destructive–it is also wrong in the deepest sense of the word. . . Sin is directly opposite to all that is good in the character of God.”[3]

Psalm 1:5

B. You must understand God’s righteousness/justice.

In English, the terms “righteousness” and “justice” are different words. This is not so in the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. There is only one word group behind these two English terms.[4]

1. What is God’s righteousness/justice?

  • “God always acts in accordance with what is right and is himself the final standard of what is right.”[5]
  • What is right or just? “Whatever conforms to God’s moral character is right.”[6]
  • Deuteronomy 32:4; Genesis 18:25; Psalm 19:8; Isaiah 45:19; Romans 9:20-21.

2. Christ’s sacrifice was to show God’s righteousness

When God sent Christ as a sacrifice to bear the punishment for sin, it was to show God’s righteousness. See Romans 3:25-26.

C. You must understand that you are a sinner who sins & God hates sin.

  • Gospel means “good news.”
  • What makes it truly “good news” is not only that heaven is free, but also God’s Son has conquered that sin.
  • Jesus said: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). What do you think Jesus meant by that?

1. Sin is what it is that makes true peace impossible for unbelievers.

Isaiah 57:20-21

2. All have sinned.

Romans 3:10-18

3. Sin makes the sinner worthy of death.

James 1:5; Romans 6:23

4. Sinners can do nothing to earn salvation.

Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16; Revelation 21:8

D. You must understand the wrath(anger) of God.

“If God loves all that is right and good, and all that conforms to his moral character, then it should not be surprising that he would hate everything that is opposed to his moral character. God’s wrath directed against sin is therefore closely related to God’s holiness and justice.”[7]

1. What is the wrath of God?

“God’s wrath means that he intensely hates all sin.”[8]

Exodus 32:9-10; Deuteronomy 9:7-8; 29:23; 2 Kings 22:13; John 3:36; Romans 1:18; 2:5, 8; 5:9; 9:22; Colossians 3:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:16; 5:9; Hebrews 3:11; Revelation 6:16-17; 19:15.

2. God is slow to inflict his wrath on people. Why?

See Psalm 103:8-9; Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9-10.

E. How can God’s wrath be pacified/appeased?

1. God has provided a way through blood-sacrifice.

Leviticus 8:15; 17:11

2. By Christ’s death (blood-sacrifice), he appeased the wrath of God.

Hebrews 9:7, 12, 20, 22, 24.

3. God calls this “propitiation” and it makes God favourable towards sinners.

Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; I John 2:2; 45:10 (atoning sacrifice/sacrifice of atonement = propitiation)

  • Propitiation is important “because it is the heart of the doctrine of the atonement. It means that there is an eternal, unchangeable requirement in the holiness and justice of God that sin be paid for. Furthermore, before the atonement ever could have an effect on our subjective consciousness, it first had an effect on God and his relation to the sinners he planned to redeem. Apart from this central truth, the death of Christ really cannot be adequately understood.”[9]

  • “The atonement is the work Christ did in his life and death to earn our salvation.”[10]

F. Who is Christ and what has He done for you?

The solution for the sinner is found in the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. Christ is eternally God

John 1:1-3, 14; Colossians 2:9

2. Christ is Lord of all

Revelation 17:14; Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 10:36

3. Christ became man

Philippians 2:6-7

4. Christ is utterly pure and sinless

Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22-23; 1 John 3:5

5. The sinless one became a sacrifice for YOUR sin

Corinthians 5:21; Titus 2:14

6. He shed His own blood as an atonement for sin

Ephesians 1:7-8; Revelation 1:5

7. He died on the cross to provide a way of salvation for sinners

1 Peter 2:24; Colossians 1:20

8. Christ rose triumphantly from the dead

Romans 1:4; 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

G. What does God demand of you?

“Repentant faith is the requirement. It is NOT merely a ‘decision’ to trust Christ for eternal life, but a wholesale forsaking of everything else we trust, and a turning to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.”[11]

1. Repent

What is repentance? “Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.”[12]

Ezekiel 18:30, 32; Acts 17:30; 26:2

2. Turn your heart from all that you know dishonours God

Thessalonians 1:9

      3. Follow Jesus

Luke 9:23, 62; John 12:26

4. Trust Jesus as your Lord and Saviour

Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9

5. Repentance and faith continue throughout your life

Repentance and faith must start together at the beginning of the Christian life. See Acts 20:21. Repentance and faith must be lived by Christians throughout their lives.

Concerning faith, see Galatians 2:20; I Corinthians 13:13.

Concerning repentance, see Revelation 3:19; 2 Corinthians 7:10

H. You must count the cost of following Jesus with much thought.

  • Salvation is absolutely free.
  • So is joining the army; you don’t have to pay to get into it. Everything you need is provided.[13]
  • Following Christ is like joining the army. It will cost you daily. It will cost you freedom, family, friends, doing things your own way (autonomy), and possibly even your life.[14]
  • I must tell you, a prospective believer, the full truth and nothing but the truth.
  • Read what Jesus said about this in Luke 14:26-33; Matthew 10:34-38; Romans 6:6.

A.W. Tozer wrote:

“The cross is the most revolutionary thing ever to appear among men. The cross of Roman times knew no compromise; it never made concessions. It won all its arguments by killing its opponent and silencing him for good. It spared not Christ, but slew Him the same as the rest. He was alive when they hung Him on that cross and completely dead when they took Him down six hours later. That was the cross the first time it appeared in Christian history. . . The cross effects [i.e. brings about] its ends by destroying one established pattern, the victim’s, and creating another pattern, its own. Thus it always has its way. It wins by defeating its opponent and imposing its will upon him. It always dominates. It never compromises, never dickers nor confers, never surrenders a point for the sake of peace. It cares not for peace; it cares only to end its opposition as fast as possible.

With perfect knowledge of all this, Christ said, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’ So the cross not only brings Christ’s life to an end, it ends also the first life, the old life, of every one of His true followers. It destroys the old pattern, the Adam pattern, in the believer’s life, and brings it to an end. Then the God who raised Christ from the dead raises the believer and a new life begins.

This, and nothing less, is true Christianity. . .

We must do something about the cross, and one of two things only we can do – flee it or die upon it.”[15]

  • Read Mark 8:35-37.

I. I urge you to trust (have faith in) Christ alone for your salvation.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:11, 20; Isaiah 55:7; Romans 10:9-10;
  • What will you do with Jesus?

J. After you trust Christ alone, what should you do? Where do good works fit in?

  • Good works: See Hebrews 5:9; Titus 2:14; Ephesians 2:10;
  • Baptism: See Acts 2:28; 8:36-39; Mark 16:16; Romans 4:10-11;
  • Join with a local church. See Hebrews 10:25.

K. What was the first creed of the early church?

See Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 4:5.

L. How will you know that you are a Christian?

1. You presently continue to trust Christ for salvation

Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 3:14; 6:12; John 3:16 (“believes” means “continues believing in him.”[16])

2. There will be evidence in your heart of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit[17]

  • Through the subjective testimony of the Holy Spirit within your hearts. Romans 8:14-16; 1 John 4:13.
  • Your life will produce the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23
  • You continue to believe and accept the sound teaching of the church. 1 John 2:23-24
  • You will have a continuing relationship with Jesus Christ. John 15:4, 7
  • You will have a life of obedience to God’s commands. 1 John 2:4-6, 10, 19; 3:9-10, 14, 17, 24; 4:7; 5:18; James 2:17-18.
  • You will give to needy people. Matthew 25:31-46

3. You will have a long-term pattern of growth and obedience in your Christian life

2 peter 1:5-7, 10; John 6:40

M. How will other people know that you are a Christian?

By the fruit in your life

Galatians 5:22-23; Matthew 7:16-20; 25:31-46; James 2:17-18

N. Do you want to repent and trust Christ alone for your salvation and live eternally for and with him?

O. What happens to those who reject God’s offer of salvation?

Because God is an absolutely just God, if you reject his offer of salvation you will receive the consequences God has decided. At death, God sends you to hell.

1. Hell forever

“Hell is a place of eternal conscious punishment for the wicked.”[18] David Kingdon writes: “Sin against the Creator is heinous to a degree utterly beyond our sin-warped imaginations’ [ability] to conceive of. . . Who would have the temerity to suggest to God what the punishment . . . should be?”[19]

Matthew 25:30, 41, 46; Mark 9:43, 48; Luke 16:22-24, 28; Revelation 14:9-11; 19:3

2. Is hell just?

Revelation 19:1-3


[1] This summary of the content of the Gospel is based on John F. MacArthur Jr., Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles. Milton Keynes, England: Word Publishing, 1993, p. 247ff.

[1a] Spencer D Gear PhD is ordained with the Christian & Missionary Alliance Australia, is an independent researcher, Bible teacher and Christian apologist, based in Brisbane, Qld, Australia.

[2] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994, p. 201

[3] Ibid., p. 490, 492.

[4] Ibid., p. 203.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid., p. 204.

[7] Ibid., pp. 205-206.

[8] Ibid., p. 206.

[9] Ibid., p. 575.

[10] Ibid., p. 568.

[11] MacArthur., p. 252.

[12] Grudem, p. 713.

[13] MacArthur, p. 253.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., pp. 254-55, from A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous. Harrisburg, Pa.: Christian Publications, 1955, pp. 61-63.

[16] Grudem, p. 803.

[17] Ibid., p. 803-806.

[18] Ibid., p. 1148.

[19] In ibid., p. 1151

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 14 December 2015.