Sitting in a restaurant one day, my friend asked me, “So what is Christianity all about?”
He was a friend I had often talked with about Jesus and now he was asking me point blank in simple terms what do you believe? My answer was, “Christianity is about the Gospel of Grace”, but my answer was really a foreign language to him. The word Gospel was not really in his vocabulary and had only come into mine since I had become a Christian the previous year.
The word “Gospel” in Greek simply means, “a message of good news.” The Christian Gospel then is Good News from God to man about Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Let me explain that from an Old Testament book of Hosea.
The Love of the Redeemer
Hosea is a book in the Old Testament of the Bible which records the story of the prophet Hosea.
Hosea was told by God to marry an unfaithful woman called Gomer. They had several children together, but then Gomer decided to leave her husband and children for the luxuries provided by other men.
In simple terms, Gomer cheated on her husband, Hosea, with lots of men:
Hosea 1:5 “For their mother has played the whore: she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, “I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”
How God tells Hosea to respond to Gomer’s unfaithfulness is both surprising and challenging. God tells Hosea to take Gomer back and love her again, just as God loves his people even though they are unfaithful to him:
Hosea 3:1 “And the Lord said to me, “go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love the cakes of Israel.”
This woman left Hosea and her children, causing him embarrassment and shame, but now he is to go and love her again. This is the opposite response than what the Old Testament law called for. In the Mosaic law the penalty for adultery was death (Deuteronomy 22:22).
Hosea’s love for Gomer pictures God’s love for us
God’s response is not, “go stone her”, but “go and love her.” Why? Because this is how He loves Israel and here is where we see Gospel love on display.
Let me explain.
In God’s eyes mankind is very much like Gomer. We are sinful. This means that we do, think, say things which are against the laws of God (1 John 3:4) What does that mean? It means that there is a moral disease that affects the whole human race of every rank and class and name and nation.
The disease of sin is one from which no one is born free or lives free of (Romans 3:23). Before God the Just Judge we are all in the same boat: Morally guilty. The just punishment for our sins is death. So what is God’s response to us in this life. Not punishment but Love.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
God’s response came at a cost, but this cost was borne by God for our benefit. In the next post, I’ll explain some more of what the Bible says about the cost of redemption, which God bore for our sake.