The gospel message is God’s plan to bring a broken world and broken people (you and me) back into a right relationship with Him. If you are reading this because you have experienced the death of a young child, know with certainty that your precious little one is now in heaven. He or she is now being held safely in the arms of Jesus. God has provided for them. The following is God’s plan for you to be reunited with your little one in Heaven.
The gospel message is centered on the life and completed work of God’s son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ (Christ means “Messiah” or “Savior”) was born into this world to destroy the barrier of sin that separates us from God. Sin is the rebellion of man against God, and all of us have chosen to rebel against Him. The consequence of sin is a physical and spiritual death. This death results in eternal separation from God. By ourselves there is nothing we can do to prevent this separation. However, God sent His son, Jesus, to bear the consequences of our sin. Jesus lived a blameless and sinless life. He paid the price of our sin, physical and spiritual death, through His death on the cross. He took our place. As a result of His actions it is now possible for us to have a right relationship with God. Three days after He died, Jesus rose from the grave. He demonstrated that He had power over even death. He promises that all who turn away from their sin and place their trust in Him do not need to fear death. They will live eternally with Him. For those of us who have experienced the death of a little one, a great reunion is planned when we place our trust in Jesus.
While we will do our best to explain God’s plan for salvation, it is our sincere hope that you do not simply take our word at face value. Instead we encourage you to search the scriptures yourself. Let God speak to you through His Word.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. ~ Genesis 1:1
The Bible teaches us that in the beginning God created all things. It teaches that plants, animals, oceans, stars, and everything else originates from God. On the final day of creation, God created man and woman. The Bible explains that God formed man from the dust of the ground. The man’s name was Adam. God placed Adam in a deep sleep. While sleeping, God removed one of Adam’s ribs and used it to create a woman. The woman was named Eve. Originally, God created the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve to live in. God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden and they lived in perfect relationship with Him. In the middle of the garden, God placed two trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told Adam that he was free to eat from any tree in the garden. However, he wasn’t to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for if he did, he would die.
In addition to creating the world and humans, God also created the angels. God’s highest ranking and most prominent angel chose to rebel against Him. This angel was cast from His presence and is known as Satan, or the devil. He is also known as the serpent, the father of lies, and the destroyer. Satan approached Eve in the Garden of Eden and deceived her. Eve was deceived into eating fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She also offered the fruit to Adam. Adam, fully knowing God’s will for his life, deliberately chose to disobey God and eat the fruit. It is recorded in the Bible as follows:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. ~ Genesis 3:1-6
God immediately knew what Adam had done. Adam had chosen to deliberately rebel against God. This choice ultimately resulted in a broken relationship between humanity and God.
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return…” So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. ~ Genesis 3:17-19, 23
When Adam and Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit, they chose to turn their back on God. They rejected God’s perfect plan for their lives, believing that they had a better plan. As a result, God removed them from the garden, the earth was cursed (cursed is the ground because of you), death came into existence (for you are dust, and to dust you shall return), and sin separated humanity from God.
It is obvious that our world is not a perfect place. In fact, it is easy to see that much of our world is incredibly broken. News headlines are filled with stories of natural disasters, political scandals, murder, and so much more. It makes one wonder, how can the world be so messed up? The Bible tells us the reason our world is so broken is because of sin.
But what is sin? The Bible teaches us the essential nature of sin is making ourselves (or anything else) out to be God. It’s putting anything or anyone, most often ourselves, above God. It occurs when we turn away from God and follow our desires instead of His. Sin occurs whenever God’s will is violated.
Sin first entered the world when Adam and Eve ate the fruit which God had forbidden them to eat, and it has been present ever since. The Bible teaches that as a result of Adam’s sin, all have a sinful heart. In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul writes:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned. ~ Romans 5:12
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. ~ Romans 3:23
Another way to understand what Paul is saying is to view our hearts as having the “disease” of sin. The symptoms of our disease might be gossip, hatred, adultery, etc. However, those symptoms stem from a heart infected with the disease of sin. Our sinful heart seeks to rebel against God. The Bible tells us that ALL of us are born with sinful hearts. We are all born with a bent toward evil.
God is 100% good. He is moral, just, loving, compassionate, kind, true, merciful and without fault. When we sin, or turn our backs on God, we turn away from what is right and true. When we sin, we invite pain, sorrow, and evil into our world. We also invite it into the lives of those around us. Often times the pain and sorrow caused by sin does not appear to have any rhyme or reason as to whom it impacts. The drunk driver seems just as likely to kill a passing family in an accident as he does himself. The Bible teaches us that all evil, sorrow, and death in our world is the result of sin. Earthquakes, famines, disease, and poverty are all the result of sin. God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you.”
One might ask why an all loving and all powerful God would ever allow sin into this world. The answer lies in the fact that God wants to have a genuine relationship with us. If God were to eliminate the possibility of sin, or rebellion against Him, He would in essence eliminate our free will. He would be forcing us to love and honor Him, which really isn’t love at all. Just as we can’t force others to love us, God doesn’t choose to force us to love Him. Thus He gave us the ability to reject Him. This allows for the possibility of a genuine loving relationship to exist. However, given enough time, all of us have chosen to reject God.
God, our Heavenly Father, is an all-loving God. He is the true embodiment of love. He is also completely holy and completely righteous. He is morally perfect in all ways. As a result, He cannot and will not tolerate any evil or any sin. His holy and perfect character requires that judgment be brought upon all sin. The Bible tells us what the result of sin is.
For the wages of sin is death. ~ Romans 6:23
Any and all sin results in both physical and spiritual death. The consequence of living our life apart from the will of God is that we disconnect ourselves from the source of life (God). Just as a branch withers and dies when it’s cut away from the vine, we also die when we separate ourselves from God. When sin entered the world, death also entered the world. The Apostle Paul writes that even creation itself is warped and distorted under the weight of sin.
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay. ~ Romans 8:20-21
Physical death is everywhere in our world. Everything living eventually dies. All are born with the condition of sin, and as a result all will face a physical death. More importantly, sin results in a spiritual death. Spiritual death is the separation from God for all eternity. It is the removal of ourselves from everything that is right and good. Hell can rightly be defined as a place that is completely and utterly separated from God. Jesus Christ describes hell, or separation from God, as a place of torment and agony (Luke 16:22-24), a place of darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 22:13), and a place of fire (Revelation 20:15). The Apostle Paul also speaks of the fate of those (all of us) who rebel against God:
He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power. ~ 2nd Thessalonians 1:8-9
Often we seek to compare ourselves against others in an attempt to win God’s favor. We might say, “I’m not as bad as Hitler.” We might also hope that if our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds we can avoid God’s judgment. However, the Bible teaches that we are not held to a worldly standard but instead to God’s perfect moral standard. A single deed, thought, or omission in rebellion of God results in our eternal separation from Him. God’s perfect morality and perfect righteousness demands that He judge the sin in our lives.
The worst part of our sin condition is that there is nothing that we can do about it. We cannot fix it. We cannot be “good enough” to earn right standing in God’s eyes. By ourselves, there is nothing we can do to avoid judgment and eternal separation from God. There is nothing we can do to avoid both physical and spiritual death. Sin is a humanly incurable disease. However, the wonderful news of the gospel is that God can do something about this problem of sin. Through the birth and death of Jesus Christ, God has provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him. Jesus Christ came into this world to save the lost. He came to pay the wages of sin. He came to conquer death itself.
God’s solution to the problem of sin is found in the person, life, and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches us that not only was Jesus the son of God, but that He was actually God himself. God loves us so much that He descended from the highest heights of heaven and wrapped himself in human flesh. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. The creator of the universe entered our world as a fragile little infant. The Apostle John states:
The Word (God) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. ~ John 1:14
The Bible tells us that if we want to know what God is like, we are to look to the identity, character, and claims of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul describes Jesus in the following way:
He is the image of the invisible God… For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form. ~ Colossians 1:15, 2:9
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being ~ Hebrews 1:3
Jesus Himself said:
I and the Father are one. ~ John 10:30
While the Bible teaches that Jesus was 100% God, it also teaches that He was 100% human. As we read the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life we see that He thirsted, hungered, cried, laughed, loved, grieved, bled, and even died. God entered our world so that He might undergo all of the joys and sorrows that we, His children, experience.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity. ~ Hebrews 2:14
Jesus was also tempted. He too had the choice to rebel against His Heavenly Father. However, instead of choosing rebellion, Jesus chose submission. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the only person in all of history to live a perfect, blameless, and sinless life.
For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. ~ Hebrews 4:15
The Bible teaches us about the character of Jesus. By looking at Jesus we are able to know how God thinks and acts. We are able to see what God values and how he responds to different situations. As one reads through the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus, we see that He is incredibly compassionate. Jesus protects the weak and the oppressed. He is angered by injustice. He demonstrates the full power of His Godhood through the performance of miracles. He healed the sick, calmed the sea, and raised the dead amongst many other miracles. He is a friend of sinners. He condemns the self-righteous and hypocrites. He seeks to be in relationship with people. He submits to the will of His Heavenly Father. He loves sacrificially, even onto death.
We are also able to understand Jesus by the claims He makes. Jesus claims to be the only way through which we can regain a right relationship with our Heavenly Father. He claims to be the only one who can solve our problem of sin. Jesus claims to be the only source of hope in an otherwise hopeless world. He claims that only He has the power to conquer death, grant everlasting life, and restore our relationship with God. The Bible records the words of Jesus:
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~ John 14:6
“I (Jesus) am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” ~John 10:9
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” ~ John 11:25-26
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” ~ John 10:10
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. ~ John 6:35
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” ~ Matthew 16:15-16
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” ~ Revelations 21:6
Jesus Christ is 100% God and 100% human. He demonstrated both compassion and power. He lived a perfect and sinless life. He is the only avenue through which any of us might regain a right relationship with God.
Jesus entered this world and healed countless people, displayed the attributes of God, and demonstrated perfect living. However, none of these are the primary reason Jesus came to walk among us. Instead, Jesus entered our world to provide the means for us to regain a right relationship with God. He came to destroy the barrier of sin that separates us from God. The Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death. Jesus came to pay those wages. The physical and spiritual death reserved for us, as a result of our sin, was instead placed on Him. Jesus Christ entered this world to die on our behalf.
Jesus knew His purpose in life was to die for the sins of the world. Jesus was executed by crucifixion. During the lifetime of Jesus, the Roman government ruled the land. The Romans utilized crucifixion as a deterrent against all those who would rebel against their rule. Crucifixion was developed to be the most painful and tortuous manner in which one could be executed. Those sentenced to be crucified were first severely beaten and whipped. They were then forced to carry a large wooden beam to the place of their execution. Once reaching the place of crucifixion, the carried beam was fixed to a second beam, creating a cross which was laid on the ground. The person to be crucified was laid on the cross with their arms stretched wide. Large spikes were driven through his wrists into the wood. Their legs were crossed and another spike was driven through both ankles. Once the person was fixed to the cross, it was lifted up and secured in the ground. The crucified person would then hang on the cross until death overtook him. The process generally lasted several hours to several days.
As Jesus neared the end of His teaching ministry, there were many who despised Him, particularly the religious leaders of the day. Jesus had exposed them as hypocrites who were more concerned with themselves than they were with God. These religious leaders were jealous of Jesus because so many people were following Him instead of them. They began to devise ways to kill Jesus. They approached Judas, one of Jesus’ 12 disciples. Judas was asked to betray Jesus and deliver Him into their hands. Judas agreed.
While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.” Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” At that time Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. ~ Matthew 26:47-56
Jesus knew this was going to happen. He knew these men were coming to arrest Him and eventually take Him to be crucified. Yet He did not resist. Jesus had the ability to call 12 legions of angels to come to His defense. This is the man who had calmed the storm, walked on water, and raised the dead. Those armed guards could pose no threat to Him. It is very important to understand that Jesus willingly chose to go to His death. Jesus was not a victim. Jesus was a willing participant so that “the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Jesus chose to go to His death because He loves you. He loves you more than you will ever be able to understand. He went so the barrier of sin separating you from God would be destroyed. He willingly chose to go to His death so that you might regain a right relationship with God. Jesus said,
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep… No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. ~ John 10:14, 18
After Jesus was arrested, He was brought before the religious leaders. The chief priests put Him on trial but could find nothing against Him. Finally they asked Him if He claimed to be the Son of God. Jesus replied, “Yes, it is as you say.” This infuriated the religious leaders and they accused Him of blasphemy. With that they brought Jesus before the Roman governor, Pilate, seeking His death by crucifixion. Pilate was unable to find anything against Jesus and sought to release Him. However, the chief priests riled the people against Jesus. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him,” they shouted. With that, Pilate yielded to the crowd and handed Jesus over to be crucified.
Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. ~ Matthew 27:27-36
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”… And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split… When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” ~ Matthew 27:45-46, 50-51, 54
When Jesus was crucified, He experienced both a physical death and a spiritual death. When Jesus shouted, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” our Heavenly Father turned His back on His only son. In that moment, God, who cannot tolerate sin, allowed the full judgment of the world’s sin to fall on Jesus. Jesus paid the wages of sin for us. At the same time, all of Jesus’ righteousness and perfection was credited, or transferred, to us. The Apostle Paul writes,
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21
With His last breath, the gospel of John records Jesus shouting out the Greek word tetelestai. This means “it is finished,” or “paid in full.” The wages of our sin were paid. With His death on the cross, Jesus accomplished the primary purpose for His life. He destroyed the barrier of sin that separates us from God. By virtue of His taking our sin upon Himself, there is no longer anything that can keep us from God.
The death of Jesus on the cross is the ultimate love story. He loved us so much that He willingly took our place on the cross. He loves you so much that He took your place on the cross. It is proof of God’s amazing love for us. The Apostle Paul writes,
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~ Romans 5:8
The purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross, simply put, was to bring us to God. The possibility now exists for us to have a right relationship with God (where it did not exist before). The sin barrier is gone. Jesus loves you more than you will ever know, and He wants to be in a relationship with you.
The most exciting part of God’s love story is that this isn’t the end. Jesus doesn’t remain dead. Three days after His crucifixion Jesus, conquers death itself.
Throughout His ministry Jesus told His disciples that he would face death. He also told them that three days later He would rise from the grave.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests