The gospel has become a buzzword for many Christians. In some people’s minds (or perhaps just their mouths) it is used like the word itself is a panacea for all Christian ills. What’s ailing you today? Are you discouraged about your health? Try thinking more about the gospel (yes sir, that should help). Do you need joy? Well, you should just let the gospel help generate that in your life (enter a knowing look, as if you should know what I mean). Are you lacking patience? Here, take a dose of the gospel and call me in the morning.
There is a certain lack of clarity about what the gospel is and how the gospel speaks into those real life situations (and it does!). As we start off Gospel Wednesdays, then, I’d like to cast the gospel as a story of hope. As the “good news” you’ve been waiting for today.
The Gospel as Story
The gospel is first and foremost a story. It’s the true story of the promised savior and it’s a story that’s integral to the main story of the Scripture. The whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation is telling one story about how God sought (and is seeking!) a relationship of love with people for his glory and our good. He offered this relationship to Adam and Eve, but they rejected this relationship of love in favor of human autonomy. Thus, sin entered into the world. Though sin gave (and continues to give) glowing, luminous promises of a better life, it delivered what it always delivers: death and destruction. Adam and Eve’s decision placed them and the rest of humanity in the enemy camp, helpless to want God and condemned to die for their sins. But God, who is rich in mercy, promised a way forward for them and us in Genesis 3:15—there is one coming who will triumph over the chaos caused by sin and set things right. Since then, God has offered this relationship of love to countless people, a relationship which was to be worked out in various ways in various times. In each era, individuals (Adam & Eve, Job, Abraham and Sarah, Moses, David, etc.), cities (Nineveh), and even nations (Israel) had to decide if they would enter into a loving relationship with God on his terms, a relationship offered on the basis of the rescue coming from the Messiah. Finally, the Son of God became the Messiah of history by being born as a human baby (the incarnation). Jesus came as the second Adam to live a perfectly righteous life under the law (active obedience), to submit himself to a shame-filled death (crucifixion) sufficient to cover the payment for all the guilt of all the sins from Adam and Eve onward. He then unexpectedly and powerfully came back to life (resurrection) and gloriously returned to heaven to sit at the right hand of God (ascension) and to begin his heavenly prayers on our behalf (intercession). Even now Jesus is preparing a place for all believers which will be given to them when he comes again (second coming). Yes, the gospel is a story, and each of these elements (incarnation, his active obedience, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, intercession, second coming) means something for the story you are living right now! This is the story of the gospel.
What does it mean? It means more than this post can unpack (hence Gospel Wednesdays). But perhaps it means these two things first of all:
God Is Offering You a Relationship of Love Right Now!
First, that God is offering you a relationship of love with him, right now. Think of it, the God of the universe is offering to love you personally forever! If this is your first time hearing this, please pay attention to the good news of the gospel. Sadly, the Bible is filled with stories of people who either misunderstood or refused God’s offer. You are invited to believe the gospel and start this relationship today. But believe what, exactly? Here is the way to salvation through the gospel: Believe that you are a sinner (Rom 3:23) as we all are. Believe, that each time you sinned, you were breaking God’s law and that the penalty for breaking that law is spiritual death forever (Rom 6:23). Believe, that God, because of his great love for you, offered his Son, Jesus (and Jesus agreed to come!), to erase your guilt by taking your penalty. Jesus agreed to die instead of you, so that you don’t have to die and be separated from God forever. Finally, you need to believe that no grave could hold Jesus. He overcame death by coming alive again! So, God is now offering to the whole world (and you specifically!) a relationship of love with himself forever. You can’t do enough good things to save yourself. So instead of trying to earn your way to heaven, believe the gospel and begin your relationship of love with God. Put your faith in the gospel today. You don’t need anybody with you, just between you and God, ask him to save you from your guilt and sins on the basis of what Christ has done for you and tell him that you believe all of these things, the gospel.
God Wants You to Go “Further Up and Further In”
Second, for you who already believe, do you know what all of the components of the gospel story mean for you? Could you tell someone about how the ascension affects your everyday living? Could you explain how you got through the difficulties of the day through hope in the second coming? What does Christ’s intercession mean for your prayers? Unfortunately we can’t answer all of these today, but this is what Gospel Wednesdays will be about. Going forward we will look into and meditate on these truths. And as God is pleased to meet with us, we will treasure Christ together.
Next Week: The Gospel As Study