If you’ve been following the blog recently, you’ll notice that I am asking questions. Questions are good, and they need to be asked. More, the right questions need to be asked, and further – discussed and wrestled to the ground with the Lord.
I’ll likely be writing about more, because asking questions of the Lord is a significant part of abiding in Him for me. When I ask, He begins to answer, He teaches. He shows. I am in school, learning, absorbing – and attempting to pass along what I hear and see. So, thanks for asking with me, and adding to the dialogue.
Today I’m reflecting on the Gospel. What is it?
Ask most Christians and you’ll likely find that we talk about the Gospel in terms of the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; or, we say that the Gospel is the plan of salvation. Romans Road or another similar tract takes us through the story of sin, death, Jesus, the Cross, the Resurrection…ending with salvation by Grace through faith in Christ.
And a beautiful story it is! Good News (which is what “gospel” meant in first century culture) even!
And so we tell this story. We preach it. Often. But could the Gospel be more than something to tell? Could it be bigger than a story? Can we define what the Gospel is without telling it? Does it end at being “saved?”
In the Roman 1st century, when a new ruler had ascended to the throne, this “good news” gospel was “heralded” throughout the land. It signified that peace and justice and reign and rule were established. It proclaimed a king, and a kingdom. It required a bent knee of submission and reverence.
With this backdrop, it can be seen that the Gospel that John the Baptist began to prepare a way for, that Jesus Christ proclaimed as being fulfilled in Himself, and that the Apostles took into the world – was the same – but more.
This Gospel proclaimed a new Ruler had ascended to His throne. This was Good News because this King was ushering in a Kingdom of eternal Peace and Justice, and an Invitation to rule and reign with Him. This Gospel heralded more than a transition between systems of rule and life, though, it heralded a permanent death to all worldly systems, and a resurrection into a New Divine Life.
It is in this distinction that we do wise to set down the stale cracker that is a watered down gospel of simply the story of salvation, and take our place at the banquet table that is the Feast of Jesus Christ.
The gospel that is often preached and told is a component of the Gospel, but it does not complete It.
You know what? At the risk of causing your panties to bunch… the reason the Church generally only tells a partial gospel is because we can more easily get comfy with the idea of having our sins forgiven and escaping an eternity of damnation. But proclaiming ourselves dead to the political, national and religious systems and their leaders – to be alive in the Kingdom of God and It’s Leader – is uncomfortable.
We want Jesus and His gift of salvation (our gospel). We don’t always Live like we want Jesus’ Life as a citizen of His Kingdom, under His Kingship (the Gospel). We have fiefdoms, and we hold on like Hell (yep) to protect and keep them.
But the narrative of the New Testament unveils a Gospel that requires death to these fiefdoms and everything else that is… us. This is the very essence of baptism. When the Apostles proclaimed the Gospel, and there became new believers, the first acts included a baptism in water – to signify a death to the system and ruler of the world – and a Resurrection into the Life of Another and His Kingdom, the Kingdom of God.
When Jesus taught and worked He proclaimed a Kingdom that was “near” and “among you” and “at hand.” He was God incarnate, the Word in flesh. His Kingdom was declared in Him, and His teaching, work and Person all pointed to His Gospel, Himself.
When the Apostles were sent out, they were so with One, singular message, one Gospel – Jesus Christ is Lord and His Kingdom is open to be entered into via It’s King.
The Gospel is the Pledge of Allegiance that Jesus is Lord and Christ is All.
The Gospel means Jesus is yes, Savior, the Fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets, the Sacrifice, the Temple, the Promise, the Messiah, the Light, the Word, the Way the Truth and the Life.
The Gospel is “the mystery” of the Eternal Purpose of God, that in Christ you have seen God, and that God is fulfilling His Purpose from before time through the Eternal establishment of His Kingdom in the earth – via Divine Life in those who have died to their world, to receive His.
The Gospel is God’s future crashing into the present. It is simultaneously here, but not fully here. We see it where there are no other idols. We see it when the poor are fed and clothed, when the sick are healed, when the blind have eyes opened, when the oppressed captives are set free and when the works of evil are undone.
We see it when the Church is the Church.
When old worlds and old lives are left and crucified. When a New Kingdom and New Lives are entered into – that subversively stand in contrast to the predominant old operating system, the Gospel is at work. Jesus is at work.
In Christ we live a new Life. In Christ we have our King. In Christ we dwell in a Kingdom.
In Christ we find… the Gospel.
What do you think? Agree or disagree? What would you add? What is the Gospel to you?