In order to understand why we need the Gospel we have to appreciate what was lost. The need for the Gospel is that we, those with broken fellowship with God, must find a way to have that relationship restored. However, we are not in a position to make that happen. We also do not have the authority to do it.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us needing someone or something that has both the authority and the ability to change the situation.
This is where the Gospel comes in. The Gospel is the remedy we need, but may not always fully appreciate. I can say that without a doubt in my own life.
Growing up Christian is Not Enough
I’ve been a Christian my entire life. There has never been a time when I did not see myself as a member of the Church or as a follower of Christ. But, as I grew in my knowledge of the Gospel, God, and my own sin, I realized that was not enough.
Just because I grew up in church and in a Christian home, that did not make me a Christian. I did not receive faith by osmosis. I had to learn I had a need. A need only God could satisfy.
Over the course of my life, I have thought about why I “forget” that I need the Gospel. Why do I slip into this mindset where I think “I’m good to go. I don’t need anything,” at least spiritually speaking?
Where does this come from?
At least for me, it comes from taking for granted the circumstances that require a Gospel to be proclaimed at all. I fall into this way of thinking when I simply do not consider how the trajectory of human history has been toward selfishness and pride.
Sure there have been moments of altruism and even self-sacrifice. Examples of men and women who have given their lives for others. But, on the whole, the reason those examples stand out is that there seem to be so few of them.
Communion with God was severed
The principal issue that necessitated the Gospel was humanity’s communion with God was severed. It was broken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
There have been debates about what exactly happened. Some are more interesting than others. A few are more entertaining than others. Regardless of the point of view, the reality remains: Adam and Eve’s disobedience disrupted humanity’s communion with God.
As a result, paradise was lost. Innocence was forever tarnished. And the brokenness that entered in by that disobedience has been inherited in each successive generation.
Whether or not we will ever know what happened is not really the point. We can look at the world around us and know something is not right out there. We all seem to have become calloused to the way life is devalued. We want to believe otherwise. But it is hard to escape the influence of this broken fellowship with God.
God’s Holiness was challenged
But why was the punishment for disobedience exile?
That is a good and fair question. The best analogy that has been shared with me can be found in many judicial systems. It is the idea of restitution. That what was stolen or destroyed must be restored. But if the item itself cannot be returned, then some form of compensation is paid to the injured party.
One of the challenges with restitution is that only the one who has been harmed can be repaired. Only the one who has been deprived of what was taken can determine what will satisfy the injury. At a basic human level, we all can understand this. If a window is broken, a new window is installed and/or paid for.
But how does this work with God? How do we, who are finite and now broken by sin, pay restitution to God? What was damaged by our disobedience was the holiness of God. Not in the sense that God was hurt or diminished. God’s holiness was challenged by Adam and Eve’s disobedience and God, because he is perfection itself, cannot abide such behavior in his presence.
The Grace of God was still on Display
And even in his punishment, God showed mercy. He told the first couple that the result of their disobedience would be death. But before he passed that judgment, God sent them away so that they might be restored in some way. So, death became the result of their sin, but it was delayed because of grace.
In the first, chapters of the Bible, we see the gospel in seed form. God in his perfection must act to address the reality of sin, but he does so by giving those who have sinned against him every opportunity to be restored.
The Gospel’s need is seen from the very opening of God’s word. We see how much was lost; how badly humanity was affected by sin. And yet, God does not merely destroy his creation. God acts according to his character. And God acts in such a way as to advance his goal of preparing the way for the Gospel.