From the start, probably the most important thing to be said is what we believe about the Gospel. In the Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:21 is one of the clearest statements you can find. Here it is in both English and Mandarin:
2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
哥林多后书 5:21 (CNVT) 神使那無罪的替我們成為有罪的，使我們在他裡面成為 神的義。
The basic premise of the Gospel is this, we are deeply loved by God because we are His creation, in essence His children and from the beginning, we were made to be in a relationship with Him. However, we broke that relationship. Breaking a relationship with God is unlike breaking a relationship with another person because the terms are so different. Creator and created is different than two equal partners. (Genesis 1-3)
Because the break in our relationship was so deep, there was no way for us (the created) to repair it. We did try however, through a lot of effort and good works, but it was never enough. We just didn’t understand the depth or magnitude of the break in our relationship with God. We were absolutely and completely loved by Him and therefore our rebellion against him was an act of cosmic betrayal. Therefore a few good works here and there could never compensate for the original betrayal and the ongoing rebellion.
What does that betrayal boil down to? Simply stated: There is only one God and it’s not us. But we wanted to be our own master, we didn’t want to live under authority. And not just that, we wanted to usurp the authority He held over us and take ownership of our lives, the world and everything else. This is what the Bible calls sin. One of my favorite people, Tim Keller, says it like this, “Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity apart from God’, so ‘according to the Bible, the primary way to define sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things. It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose and happiness than your relationship to God’.
In response to our rebellion, the Bible tells us that God, rather than write us off, in love took things in his own hands to restore our relationship. He sent His son Jesus Christ to pay the debt that our rebellion had created. This is why all of our human efforts had failed over the years. A cosmic debt could never be repaid with human effort. It could only be repaid with something of cosmic magnitude. So, only God himself could repay it. (Ephesians 2)
Jesus came and lived the human life we were meant to live. A perfect life without fault or sin. He never said, thought or did anything against the law of God. Actually, Jesus did the opposite, in every case. He always spoke, thought and did the right and perfect thing on the one hand so he could be a perfect substitue for us on the cross and on the other hand to build up a treasure house of good works that could be credited to our account.
So then, on the cross at the time of his death, his sacrifice on our behalf was accepted by God as truly perfect and pleasing. He had no debt of his own to pay for so he could willingly offer his perfect life as a substitute for ours – which because he was not just a man, but the God man, and not only that, but the Son of God – the most valuable thing in all the cosmos, his sacrifice was ultimately acceptable and pleasing to God in order to satisfy the debt we owed. And in addition, God takes the righteousness of Christ and transfers it to our account so that in God’s view we are now “counted” righteous in Christ.
So the verse means this: When someone believes and trusts in Jesus, God transfers their debt to the account of Christ where it is paid in full by his death on the cross and at the same time he transfers Jesus goodness to that person’s account so they are made right with God.
This is the good news of the Gospel!