By now you’ve noticed that we are known as the “Langstaff Gospel Hall”. What does that name convey to you? What does it tell you about who we are and what we believe?
Well, the first word, “Langstaff” is fairly simple to understand – we are located at 1350 Langstaff Road, so this is simply a geographic reference to our building’s location. The last word is also fairly easily understood – “hall” simply refers to the building we use for our public gatherings. So the really important thing to define is what “gospel” means! The gospel is what brings us together, binds us together, keeps us together, and provides us with a mission to reach others.
“Gospel” quite literally means "good news". At some point or another you have received good news and it is generally a very positive experience. Although not a rule, in general good news requires two things. Firstly it is necessary to have objective facts, things that have occurred, are occurring, or are going to occur. However objective facts are really only news. What makes news good is our subjective perception of that news. Think for example of the results of a football game. Whether or not that factual information is good news will largely depend on what team you were cheering for. School test results will be good or bad news depending on how they compare to the mark you were hoping for. A raise at work could be good news, unless you were expecting something far larger than you actually received.
So when we use the word “gospel”, what is the good news that we want to share? Let's start by looking at the historical, objective facts, and then move to the subjective.
Regardless of your religious beliefs there is no denying the historical reality of Jesus Christ. As is true with any historical event, your decision to believe it or not has no bearing whatsoever on its authenticity. The facts are that Jesus was born to a young virgin girl in the town of Bethlehem over 1900 years ago (Matthew 1:23). When He was a young child, His parents moved to Egypt for a short time before returning to the rural area of Galilee known as Nazareth (Matthew 2:14-23). There Jesus grew up humbly working with His father Joseph as a carpenter. At roughly age 30 He moved out, was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17), and gathered a small group of followers. He then proceeded to spend around three years healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, feeding the hungry, raising the dead, and offending all the religious leaders. The culmination of this was that He was betrayed by His friend and put on false trial before being sentenced to death by crucifixion. The Jewish crowd screamed out to have Him crucified, Pilate (the Roman governor) sentenced Him to death despite publicly acknowledging His innocence, and Roman soldiers led Him away from the judgment throne. He was then beaten, mocked, humiliated, despised, and ultimately killed. Following His death, He was taken down from the cross, buried in a tomb in a nearby garden and a guard of Roman soldiers was placed at the entrance to the tomb. However, three days later Jesus rose from the dead! He was seen by hundreds of witnesses over a period of forty days before returning to heaven from a mountainside outside Jerusalem. His disciples then proceeded to share His story and the news spread around the world and has been changing lives from the first century until now.
All of the above are historical facts, and while it is not the place here, if you have questions about the historicity of these events we’d love to hear from you, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss these things further.
The real question at this point, though, is - why is this news “good”? What does the death of a man over 1900 years ago have to do with you? Why should you care? That is where the subjective reality, or experience of the cross, comes into play. While the truth of the cross is a historical fact, the experience of this reality comes through faith.
The Bible never views Jesus' death as an accident. In fact, there are passages in the Bible predicting Jesus’ death that were written over 700 years before He even came! (Psalm 22, Isaiah 53). The reality is that His death was caused not by the action of the Roman authorities, nor even by the Jewish leaders who cried for His blood. Rather, His death was planned and purposed by God long before He left heaven to come into the world! In the book of Acts we read "in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, along with the gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do what your plan had predestined to take place" (Acts 4.27-28). What happened at the cross was part of God's plan. It was the absolutely deliberate outworking of God’s wonderful plan to rescue you and me! In 1 John 4:14 the Bible states “the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world”.
The question thus remains - Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? The answer is that He died for your sins and for mine. The Bible says that "Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15.3). This is the greatest news that has ever come to human ears. The problem of sin is both universal and also intensely personal. The fact that it is extremely unpopular in today’s society to talk about sin, in no way diminishes the reality of sin in each of our lives! As a society, we are quite comfortable talking about the sin that is "out there": the inequality in the world, the injustices that we see, the suffering of those in third world countries etc. Yet many are almost totally blind to the sin that is "in here", that is to say in our hearts. The problem of sin is more than just actions, it actually comes from the heart. We are not sinners because we sin; rather we sin because we are sinners! We have a serious problem! The Bible says "all we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way" (Isaiah 53.6). If you are honest with yourself, you know that you are a sinner, and the reality of that sin is that not only has it caused pain to those around you, and likely to yourself, but far more significantly, it has offended a holy and a just God. This puts every one of us as human beings into a desperately dangerous position - we are not right with God, and our sin stands in the way, separating us from Him. The justice of God demands a payment for sin, a payment that we are totally incapable of making.
But this is where the truly amazing good news of the gospel becomes so real! Jesus bore the burden of our sin, and Jesus made the payment that our sin demanded. The cross of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important event in all of human history - as it marks the place where we see perfectly demonstrated God’s love and God’s justice! It is there at the cross that we see God rightly judging our sins, punishing them, and pouring out his wrath on them – but God’s love is unmistakably displayed in the fact that this judgment was poured out on His perfect Son instead of on us. We are then offered salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. We don’t deserve it, and we can never earn it – but we are offered forgiveness, peace, life and joy as a free gift because Jesus Christ fully bore our sins when He died on the cross for sinners.
Surely you can see how offensive it would be to try to earn salvation or merit God’s forgiveness. What we deserve is hell, and what we have been offered is forgiveness, reconciliation and a new life with Jesus.
If you have never personally placed your faith in Jesus Christ and entered into the benefit of what He has done for you, consider the following verses from the Bible:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." John 3:16-18
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me' " John 14:6
"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6.23
"For by grace are you saved, through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:8-9
"Testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" Acts 20:21
We would strongly encourage you to repent of your sins and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work done for you on the cross. You can receive, as a free gift from God, all of the blessings of eternal life!
We would love the opportunity to discuss these things with you further. You are always welcome at Langstaff Gospel Hall. Remember the story of our name – “Langstaff” is just the name of the road where we’re located – the “Hall” is just the building in which we meet – the big thing is the “Gospel”! This is what we are all about - God’s good news for lost, perishing sinners – the message of life through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is God’s message for you!