The meaning of the gospel, the good news, is that Jesus Christ has finished the work of forgiveness. Because of the gospel, you are a forgiven person.
We heard the gospel message and we responded with faith: we believed in, relied on and put our trust in the gospel. Immediately, we were made into a new creation. We were born again!
We have not only received a second birth, but we have also been given a new identity. Our new identity is that of a forgiven person.
It is uncommon for a believer to understand this in the beginning of their new life with Jesus. Most of us spent years wandering in the wilderness of “works” trying to get forgiven. We spent years asking Him to forgive us; we continually repented and rededicated ourselves to a life of obedience.
But hopefully, by now, you have been set free from the legalistic way of life and have been set free from a religious mindset. Hopefully you have left behind the ‘wandering in the wilderness’ and have come to lie down in the green pastures of the Promised Land of Rest.
The book of Hebrews talks about this promised rest. The author tells us that there remains a rest, a Sabbath rest, for the people of God.
“For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remains therefore a rest for the people of God."
This rest occurs when we stop trying to get forgiven. You will find rest when you let go of that cursed life of wandering in circles in the wilderness of religion, of legalism, of Churchianity, of works-righteousness, or whatever you want to call it!
We enter His rest when we come to understand the true meaning of the gospel: that we are forgiven people.
Trust that Jesus has finished His work through His death, His burial and His resurrection: through the gospel. The work is finished, and He is RESTING!
Since God is resting, we may enter His rest as well.
For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.
P.S.: for more on this topic of forgiveness, please listen to this excellent audio series by Aaron Budjen of Living God Ministries.
Darren and Darryl were two gay guys that I once worked with at Café 66, the intracoastal restaurant located on the property of Pier 66, a 4-star-hotel and resort in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. They were both waiters. Darren was my best friend at that job, but Darryl didn’t like me at all.
Darren accepted me because he too was a Christian, but Darryl gave me these intense, scowling stares during our staff meetings in the kitchen. Other than the creepy looks, Darryl avoided me. Except for the day of his dream.
Disturbed by a dream he had the previous night, Darryl went from employee to employee asking their opinion. Finally, he approached me. He told me the dream and then asked if I had any idea what it meant. I was honest and said no.
I worked as the Administrative Assistant to the restaurant’s Executive Director, Steve Silverman. A highly polished and manicured Jewish man who had a legendary reputation for having his secretaries quit on him. After I got hired, I heard this phrase numerous times from employees all over the resort, “Oh, you are Steve’s new secretary? He’s awful to work for! You’re not gonna last long.”
However, I lasted a year and a half; I seem to have a knack for getting along with difficult people. I did quit, but it was to pursue my Biblical education in another state.
My office was down in the basement, but on the day of Darryl’s dream, I was up in Café 66 filling in for an absent hostess. After I told him I had no idea what his dream meant, I went back to my station at the hostess stand . . . and prayed.
I said hesitatingly, “God, if you want to give me the interpretation of his dream, you know, that would be cool.”
And then suddenly, with an almost physical sensation of something being dropped on my head, the meaning of the dream was downloaded into my brain. It was clear. And it was cool! God was preaching the gospel to Darryl!
So, I sheepishly walk over to Darryl. “Umm, this has never happened to me before, but like, God totally gave me the interpretation of your dream.”
In his dream, Darryl was driving a car. In the passenger seat was a toilet bowl filled with poop; it was raining out, and the steering wheel was shuddering. There were other details that I don’t remember (this happened almost 30 years ago), but the basic message was this: “Darryl, you have sin in your life, and you are trying to control your life with your own effort, but you are headed for destruction and therefore God wants to save you, and be the One who ‘drives’ your life.”
Darryl was thoughtful, but unsure. He said “okay, thanks,” and then I walked back to my station.
About an hour later, he excitedly came up to me and said, “I finally figured it out! I ate pizza late last night, and the pizza is what gave me the weird dream!”
“Oh. Okay, thanks,” I said. But, of course, I didn’t believe that for a minute; I knew that God had preached the good news to him through that dream, hoping to save him. Hoping to give Daryl new life and to begin a relationship with him.
I believe God occasionally speaks to us through our dreams. And I believe that God Himself gives the interpretation. I was thankful to be used by God to give Darryl this message about sin and salvation, about death and life. It is now 30 years later, and who knows, maybe by the time of this writing, Darryl has surrendered to God, and been reborn with the life of Jesus Christ.
God can and will teach the truth to His children. He explained the gospel to me without me even asking Him to. The following is a journal entry from December 9, 1991, just three months after my salvation.
God gave me understanding today as I was taking a shower. Thank You, Jesus, my God. My wonderful, loving God! I didn’t even ask for this – but I needed it. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for knowing my needs. God revealed to me the fall of man.
Before sin, Adam and Eve were in perfect union with God. They had a perfect relationship. That is why and how God created us to be. Adam and Eve lived in perfect peace and happiness. Then Satan came along, stealing God’s serpent to speak through and tempted Adam and Eve to commit sin.
“No, God’s word is that we can’t do that.”
Satan said, “Oh, c’mon, you believe God’s word? Would he really punish you? He’s God. Did he really say that? C’mon, do what I say and you will know what evil is. Your eyes will be opened. You will know all things.”
O.K., they said. They were tempted and they followed and they sinned against their father’s word. God was grieved – he was hurt. Now they could see good and evil. Now they were unclean, unworthy of God.
God could not change what happened. He created us with the free will to choose him or to reject him. Adam and Eve chose to reject God. So the punishment for sin is death. Sin would have to lead to death. Sin had to be killed.
As Adam and Eve procreated, all their children were born as they were – separated from God by their sin. Nothing they could do could change that fact. We are born ungodly creatures. We are born as children of the devil. Our bodies are destined to death. Sin is contained inside our flesh and our soul. But God desires and yearns for his creation.
God does not want any of us to perish. But when he saw how sinful we had become, he sent a great flood and wiped out most everyone. That didn’t work. Then he sent us the 10 commandments and the Law spoken through prophets. It was written down and called Scripture. But the law couldn’t save us or take away our sinful flesh. God told us that he would send us a son. He said a child would be born by a virgin.
This child was born and he claimed to be God himself. But his words were rejected. He was hated and eventually was killed. The blood He shed on that cross fulfilled God’s word. That blood took away our sins. God rose from the dead and therefore overcame death. Satan was defeated, forever. But since we are sinful, we must now turn from our sin and accept God.
If we don’t believe that God’s blood was shed on the cross as a sacrifice to us, then how can we be saved? If we don’t believe, we are still living in sin. We remain as simply a creation that has rejected God.
When we come to believe in Jesus’ sacrifice and that God rose him from death, then we become God’s adopted child and heirs to his kingdom.
How are we saved? All one has to do to be saved and to have eternal life in Jesus Christ is to truly believe that Jesus was sent to save us from our sins. That takes a leap of faith. Believing that is all you have to do. Then, to secure your salvation he sends the Holy Spirit to live inside of you.
Once you have the Holy Spirit – you are saved and you know it. You may not realize it is the Holy Spirit at first, but you will feel a rebirth. You are no longer the same person. You have been made whiter than snow on the inside. God now can see us and have a relationship with us. Because, when God looks at you, he sees the pure blood of Jesus. You are now justified. You have been born-again.
All you have to do to be saved is to believe that Jesus was sent from God to die for us, and that he was raised from his death. You believe by faith, and you are saved through God’s grace. Ask God for the faith to believe. Ask God to reveal your sin to you.
God, help me to understand salvation. I want to share it with everyone. Lord, I want to be with you in heaven. I desire to love you, God. I want to obey.
(End of diary entry / December 9, 1991)
Again . . . I had only been saved for three months when I wrote this down. This diary entry from 1991 was inspired by God — He gave me His insight — yet, at the time, I did not have a complete understanding of the gospel; I did not fully understand Law versus Grace or the Old Covenant versus the New Covenant. And because I did not have a complete grasp on our total forgiveness in Christ Jesus, I would end up being led astray by legalistic teaching. I would end up spending the next 15 years trapped in a cage of deception. I explain my story of being led out of that cage here. (And for a much more detailed version, check out my testimony here.)