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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What is the Gospel?

All believers know the good news about Jesus, and most are able to sum it up in a few phrases. “Jesus loves you and has a plan for your life… All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” These things are true, and part of the gospel, but they are not the gospel. I once had a discussion (read: arguement) with a friend over “sharing the gospel in its entirey vs. sharing it in bits and pieces.” You can imagine how it went: he was of the opinion that due to the urgency of the message, and the uncertainty of our immediate futures, we ought to make the most of every opportunity to share the complete gospel with every person we could. Mostly, I disagreed with his interpretations of the concepts of urgency, opportunity, and gospel. Yes, we are in the last days of life as we know it, and time is short. Yes, we need to be ready at all times to give a reason for the hope we have, and make the most of every opportunity. But how much information must a person know in order to be saved? What is required understanding for a follower of Jesus?

No, the gospel is not information. It is a person. Jesus. He is the way, truth and life. A person knows the Most High God by meeting Jesus. Telling other people about Him, no- introducing others to Him is a huge part of who we are. But loving people unconditionally is sharing Christ. Feeding the hungry and caring for the sick is indeed being Jesus to people. It is incarnation of the Word.


Anonymous said...

I just found your blog today and I'm so glad I did! I've only read about 10 of the posts, but with every one I read, it feels more and more like I'm reading back over my journals!
I am a former ISCer in Western Europe and we are currently in the career process. A lot of our two years was spent dealing with these same issues and it's awesome to see that you have come to some of the same conclusions (questions?)that we have.
Speaking to this specific post, I remember having serious guilt for two days over not "giving the FULL gospel" during a conversation with one of our friends, but instead just spoke what I felt led to share at that time. I finally just began to pray through the guilt and during my prayer, the focus shifted to praying for my friend. When I finished, I realized the previous two days the Spirit was burdening me to pray for HER, not to confess my "guilt." How arrogant I was!
What is wrong with our "evangelism?" Where is the personal relationship, like you talked about? It's not about giving a rote list of ideas, but about sharing our lives and sharing out of the fullness of what Christ has done in US!
Thank you for this blog and I appreciate your willingness to put yourself out there.

stepchild said...

Welcome! I'm excited to have people from within and outside the IMB participating here! (I hope the outsiders hang with us even though it seems most of us insiders want to stay anonymous for the time being.)

Yeah, I think we've tried to boil the gospel down to "just the facts." In the process, it actually loses a lot of power and meaning. When Jesus told stories, there were a lot of times when he didn't cut it up into bite-sized pieces for his audience. I think a lot of us feel the pressure to share "the whole gospel." I guess I'm not sure what that means anymore.

drawnbylove said...

When we came back from WE, I asked my mother-in-law, "To you, what is the gospel?" She said, "Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and was resurrected, and because of that I can go to heaven to live with Him." I remember thinking, "Is that it?" And then I thought what a heretic I was for thinking the gospel was more than Jesus' selfless sacrifice.
I am not at all trying to take away from the preciousness of what Jesus did, because I feel that I appreciate it more than ever! But it seems to me that there's more than just being able to go to heaven. If that was the only point, wouldn't we just be taken up to heaven, the moment we accepted Christ? And why would Christ have spent all that time teaching about how to live as "citizens of heaven" on earth?
I am reading "The Greatest Thing in the World" by Henry Drummond, and I love this passage:
"We hear much of love to God; Christ spoke much of love to man. We make a great deal of peace with heaven; Christ made much of peace on earth. Religion is not a strange or added thing, but the inspiration of the secular life, the breathing of an eternal spirit through this temporal world."
I am learning that the gospel is much more than we ever dreamed, yet at the same time just one simple thing: "and these three remain: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is LOVE."

stepchild said...

Thanks for sharing that Drummond quote. I'll have to check out that book.

Our team has been talking a lot lately about how our faith plays out in social issues. It's a shame that anyone who starts to talk about being concerned for lost people's present instead of focusing only on their "eternity" is labeled a liberal. It's like the Republicans saying "We don't care about the homeless; that's a Democrat's issue."

Thanks for reminding me about the complex simplicity of the gospel.