2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation
In these verses from 2Corinthians chapter 5, the gospel-the message of Christianity is summarized quite beautifully. Here, the vital components of the gospel are put together wonderfully with the responsibility that the knowledge of the Gospel places upon one clearly stated.
The very first phrase destroys every doctrine that seeks to elevate man's ability, his worthiness or his efforts in securing salvation for his soul. Salvation is entirely a gift of God. God is the source... The one who initiated the plan of redemption. All things are of God. All things concerning reconciliation between a Holy God and a sinful world can only be by the sovereign Grace of a loving God.
Man may boast of the Educational Institutions he has built or the elite military that holds everyone in awe. He may talk about scientific discoveries and medical innovation, however when the discussion turns to the matter of salvation and redemption and a meaningful relationship with God, he can only exclaim, "all things are of God".
If Salvation is a gift- a gift from God like this text and others claim, ("and all of this is a gift from God..."2Cor5:18 NLT; "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:" Eph2:8;etc)
Then, How was this gift given?
The next phrase tell us exactly how. God reconciled us to himself By Christ Jesus. Christ is the "How" of Reconciliation. He is our mercy seat(Rom3:25)and in Him, a Holy God can meet with redeemed humanity.
In the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the barrier between God and Man was destroyed and man can boldly approach God on the basis of Faith in Christ. Jesus Christ is the one who took our place, died on the cross and in Him, our sins were paid for and we can stand before God righteous when we trust in Him.
Religion is man's attempts to either win over a displeased God who has no personal interest in man or his affairs or work up enough good acts or right words and rituals to make up for man's unworthiness to approach a living God; in contrast, the message of the Gospel starts with a real God, a personal God who designed a plan of redemption, meets the righteous demands of his justice, justifies sinful humanity and tells man, "hey, let's be friends"! And all of that was done apart from man's efforts or his goodness or his prayers! It is entirely of God from first to last!
In Christ, God doesn't hold our misdeeds or trespasses or sins against us, note that he doesn't overlook them either, but while he confronts us with the reality of sin and its pernicious consequences, he puts those sins on Christ and charges them to His account! To not impute sin to us means to not reckon us as sinners. Instead, the sin of the whole world becomes the sin of Christ. And his righteousness becomes our righteousness! Sounds too good to be true!
This is what God has done for us all. The whole world has been reconciled to God in the reconciliatory work of Christ. But the whole world is yet to hear the message of reconciliation. To hear is to know... To know is to believe. The Gospel is simply the message that God apart from our efforts or prayer or rituals offers us forgiveness of sins and a relationship with Himself in Christ who took our place and died in our behalf.
This is the message of Christianity. Not a proclamation of condemnation or a proclamation of man's unworthiness; it doesn't tell man to clean up his act and he'll be fine neither does it focus on a supposed inherent goodness of man, instead it is a message of reconciliation between a Holy God who goes all the way and redeems humanity. It does not ask man to try and stop sinning and make peace with God, it proclaims that God has made peace with the world and it requests a personal response in faith to this sovereign gift of Grace.Eph2:8
Become friends with God; he's already a friend with you. Accept the gift of his righteousness! Stop trying so hard to please him. Get a new start in Christ. A new life in Him. God has taken the initiative to end the feud. He has made peace by the blood of the cross of Christ. That is the message!