September 5, 2015 (20th Elul 5775) I’ve mentioned “preaching the gospel” in my previous blog – here it is as I expressed it last year. As mentioned in the introduction, it’s kind of a pre-obituary (I’m not dead – yet)… OK, I hope I’m dead to sin, but alive in Jesus!
Let it be Clearly Stated: (June 21, 2014)
Following in the footsteps of my younger brother, Mike, earlier this year… because he was having a very serious operation with open-heart surgery, and because we had experienced the passing of our father, Michael J. Scotto in January, he decided to write his “pre-obituary” of a sort. It was not because he expected to die in the operation (although it was a possibility, but not likely), but because he wanted to set the record straight about the most important realities in his life. Like him, while there’s no doubt that I have sort of enjoyed baseball in my life, and am known to be a Phillies fan, that is not at the center of my being. I will not die for the Phillies (although, at times, they do try to kill me), but I will die for my beliefs. Although mine will be shorter, it will be, nonetheless, just as much from the heart. So here it is:
Let it be clearly stated: I, Joseph Nicholas Scotto, age 57, love the Lord Jesus, the Messiah of Nazareth. Despite being, in my own flesh, a weak sinner, the Savior has poured out His undeserved mercy on me. It is not due to anything that I have done (other than, by His enabling power, to repent and believe the gospel), but, rather, simply because of grace – the unmerited favor I have received as a precious gift (Ephesians 2:8 – 10).
Let me explain: Jesus made the plan of salvation very simple – “Repent and believe the good news” (or gospel). Repent means to admit that I’m a sinner and confess my sins to Him. The gospel is simply the good news that Jesus Christ, the only sinless man who ever lived, God in human flesh, came to earth to be crucified, so that the blood He spilled with His death can pay the price for the sins of human beings who believe in Him. It is not only that He died, but also that He rose victoriously from the grave in the Resurrection. All we have to do to be saved – to receive the eternal life He promised us (John 3:16) – is to believe that, making Jesus our Savior and Lord. Those who are His demonstrate that by their love for their Risen Lord. This is the faith that I embrace.
And, because of all this, I know God – not just know of Him, but actually know Him. There’s not one religious work I need to do; I don’t even have to join a church (although I should because the true church on earth is the Body of Christ). It’s very simple. And Jesus summarized all this beautifully in Matthew 11:28 – 30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
And, the best part is: the gospel is for everyone. As in Revelation 5:9, the church will have “persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.” Anyone can go through the simple steps – Repent (admit you are a sinner) and believe the gospel (the good news that Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sin and was raised from the dead in victory over death). The proof? Love! Do you love others in the Body of Christ? Do you love Jesus? Jesus said that we will be known for our love.
I believe that the Bible is the Living Word of God – it’s the written truth that God wanted us to have so that He can communicate with us.
I believe the truth taught in the Scriptures in numerous places that God is the Creator of all the universe, and that it was done as stated plainly in the Bible – in six literal days about 6000 years ago.
I believe that believers in Jesus receive the Holy Spirit, to give us all the power to live the Christian life.
And I believe He is someday going to return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
As Peter preached (through the power of the Holy Spirit) on the day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 4:12 – “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Amen to that!