A church that truly understands the implications of the biblical gospel will look like an unusual hybrid of various church forms and stereotypes.
Timothy Keller – Center Church p. 47
THE GOSPEL AFFECTS EVERYTHING
Even though the gospel is a set of truths to understand and believe, it cannot remain a set of beliefs if is truly believed and understood.
Leslie Newbigin states, “The Christian story provides us with such a set of lenses, not something for us to look at, but for us to look through.”
The Richness of the Gospel
Outline of the gospel by Simon Gathercole:
1. The Son of God emptied himself and came into the world in Jesus Christ, becoming a servant.
2. He died on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice.
3. He rose from the grave as the firstfruits of a whole renewed world.
THE INCARNATION AND THE “UPSIDE-DOWN” ASPECT OF THE GOSPEL
- Because Jesus was the king who became a servant, we see a reversal of values in his kingdom administration (Luke 6:20-26).
- The gospel creates a new kind of servant community, with people who live out an entirely alternative way of becoming human.
- Racial and class superiority, accrual of money and power at the expense of others, yearning for popularity and recognition – all are marks of living in the world. They represent the opposite of the gospel mind-set.
THE ATONEMENT AND THE “INSIDE-OUT” ASPECT OF THE GOSPEL
- God’s kingdom is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17).
- Jesus took our place on the cross and accomplished salvation for us, which we receive freely as a gift.
- Gospel is if I know in my heart that God has accepted me and loves me freely by grace, then I can begin to obey, out of inner joy and gratitude.
- Religion is outside in, but the gospel is inside out.
- Once we gain this understanding on the inside, it revolutionizes how we relate to God, to ourselves, and to others on the outside.
THE RESURRECTION AND THE “FORWARD-BACK” ASPECT OF THE GOSPEL
- Jesus is resurrected, but we are not.
- He has inaugurated the kingdom of God, but it is not fully present.
- The coming of the messianic King occurs in two stages:
1) At his first coming, he saved us from the penalty of sin and gave us the presence of the Holy Spirit, the down payment of the age to come.
2) At the end of time, he will come to complete what he began at the first coming, saving us from the dominion and very presence of sin and evil. He will bring a new creation, a material world cleansed of all brokenness.
- Evangelical-charismatic church: Because of the inside-out, substitutionary atonement aspect, the church wil place great emphasis on personal conversion, experiential grace renewal, evangelism, outreach, and church planting.
- Anabaptist “peach” church: Because of the upside-down, kingdom/incarnation aspect, the church will place great emphasis on deep community, cell groups or house churches, radical giving and sharing of resources, spiritual disciplines, racial reconciliation, and living with the poor.
- Kuyperian Reformed church: Because of the forward-back, kingdom/restoration aspect, the church will place great emphasis on seeking the welfare of the city, neighborhood and civic involvement, cultural engagement and training people to work in “secular” vocations out of a Christian worldview.
- A comprehensive view of the biblical gospel – one that grasps the gospel’s inside-out, upside-down, and forward-back aspects – will champion and cultivate them all.
The Gospel Changes Everything
Unlike legalism or antinomianism, an authentic grasp of the gospel of Christ will bring increasing transformation and wholeness across all the dimensions of life that were marred by the fall. The gospel addresses our greatest need and brings change and transformation to every area of life.
- Discouragement and depression
Assuming the depression has no physiological base, the gospel will lead us to examine ourselves and say, “Something in my life has become more important than God – a pseudo-savior, a form of works-righteousness.” The gospel leads us to embrace repentance, not to merely set our will against superficialities.
- Love and relationships
Without the gospel, the choice is to selfishly use others or to selfishly let yourself be used by others. We selflessly sacrifice and commit, but not out of a need to convince ourselves or others that we are acceptable. We can love a person enough to confront, yet stay with the person even when it does not benefit us.
The gospel shows us that sexuality is supposed to reflect the self-giving of Christ. He gave himself completely without conditions. Sex is to be shared only in a totally committed, permanent relationship of marriage.
The gospel frees us from making parental approval a form of psychological salvation by pointing to how God is the ultimate Father.
The gospel leads us to a whole-person approach that begins with truth descending into the heart.
- Race and culture
Christianity is universal in that it welcomes everybody, but it is also particular in its confession that Jesus is Lord, and culture and ethnicity (or whatever other identity) are not. Gospel-relying Christians will exhibit both moral conviction and compassion with flexibility.
We are compelled to share the gospel out of generosity and love, not guilt.
- Human authority
The gospel gives a standard by which to oppose human authority (if it contradicts the gospel), as well as an incentive to obey the civil authorities from the heart, even when we could get away with disobedience.
- Guilt and self-image
Without the gospel, our self-image is based on living up to some standards – either our own or someone else’s imposed on us. Only in the gospel can we be both enormously bold and utterly sensitive and humble, for we are both perfect and sinner.
- Joy and humor
If we are saved by grace alone, this salvation is a constance source of amazed delight. Nothing is mundane or matter-of-fact about our lives. Gospel gives us a far deeper sense of humor and joy since we don’t have to take ourselves seriously and we are full of hope for the world.
- Attitude toward class
The gospel leads us to be humble, free from moral superiority, because we know we were spiritually bankrupt yet saved by Christ’s free generosity. It leads us to be gracious, not worried too much about people getting what they deserve because we are aware that none of us deserve the grace of Christ.
Next week: Gospel part 2: Gospel Renewal