– The Gospel as Christian World View –
The Gospel has become one of those things that could mean several things to several people. If you would like to prove that, just read few sentences that people write or say that have the word ‘gospel’ in it. If the gospel is a sort of fuzzy word that means different things in different context, then the gospel becomes nothing. If something all of the sudden means everything, it losses its meaning. We must resist the temptation to make the gospel as something faddish. That is going to domesticate it and the glory of the one who is revealed in and through the gospel. For example, is life in the Spirit the gospel? is having faith the gospel? is the call to a holy living the gospel? No! These are the absolute necessary entailments of the gospel. These are what a genuine gospel produces in us! If we say to have faith is the gospel, then we have faith in faith. It is meaningless. Remember the gospel is news. it is a content, a proclamation that we have come to believe. So what is the gospel? After having examined closely for some time now (this original article was written back in 2010) what we mean when we say the ‘Gospel’, usually means one of following. It’s either used too loosely, almost like a cliché, to implicitly mean the basic core of the Christian faith. As a result, the Gospel can not possibly be qualified as the over arching reality that covers our whole Christian existence (that which is big enough to meet our daily needs by itself) But the Gospel of Christ is that over arching worldview through which we see all of life. Second, sometimes we used the word gospel to mean the cross almost divorced from everything else, such the kingdom. It is impossible to separate the kingdom from the cross. Christ preached the good news saying ‘the kingdom of God is at hand’. However this kingdom is a saving, redemtive kingdom. Hence, cross work is integral to kingdom work.
As a preliminary remark, let me also suggest that getting the gospel right demands that we understand God as truine. The gospel is in direct continuity and solidarity with the work of the truine God (Ad Intra/ Ad Extra). That is to say, the gospel is good news about the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. As such therefore it is not first and foremost about the Father or the Spirit. However this gospel is what the father promised through the prophets in the holy scripture to be accomplished through the Son and applied by the Spirit. Therefore, just as there is one God, there is one redemtive act of the one God. Just as there are three person in the one God, the gospel is what the person of the Son accomplished as the Father ordained through the Holy Spirit. We shall examine this later when we expound (Rom. 1:1-4). My point here is modest. To get the gospel right is to get God right. To get God right is to get the gospel right.
Therefore what we usually call “The deep things of God” have turned out to be anything else but the Gospel. For most of us the gospel, accurately understood, is the beginning of the Christian life and believers should then graduate to the more “deep things of God” as quickly as possible. This point of view does not measure Christian growth primarily by how much one is progressively seeing “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Cor 4: 4 ” or by how much one grasped the bottomless-depth of the deep mystery of the Gospel, to which Paul prays:
“that you may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth” (Eph 3: 14-19).
of the Gospel which is :
“…the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed to his saints. (Rom 16:25-26, Col 1: 26).
To which the Apostle Paul was commissioned to:
“impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory (1 Cor 2: 7).
“to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory….This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Col 1: 27, Eph 3: 6)”.
And all that was done by:
“Christ [who] brought life and immortality to light through the gospel“ (2 Tim. 1:10).
Paul then concludes boldly:
“I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation… (Rom. 1:16)”
This is just to sample what the scriptures testify about the Gospel. The fact of the matter is that the gospel is the mystery of God, which was kept secret but has now been gloriously revealed at the coming of Christ Jesus, in his person and his works (who he is and his miracles, death, resurrection- respectively).
Regardless of the testimony and the evidence of the scriptures, we are constantly minoring on what the New Testament locates at the foreground, that is the gospel and majoring on what the New Testament places at the background. To prove this one needs to rewind a bit back, so as to reflect to what have always been the most exciting topics that have been recycling amongst us. I can spot more than a dozen with out much straining of my brain. We’re persistently seeking the missing “key” for victorious living. Several keys have been discovered and then once more replaced by new ones. Methods and techniques are taught and cherished with out realizing that we have geared towards legalism long time ago. Our hearts are looking for the next to “do-list” with out recognizing that is the old self-righteousness (self help) being recycled as new- imported from the back door.
The aggravating question is: “how can I be transformed in conformity to the Image of Christ?” The answers given are diverse, Method after method, technique after technique, movement after movement… I have been involved in few of those “around the corner solutions” to the transformed life. Some of us suggest if the church once more were to be reorganized and realigned change would come . Still for others, the solution lies with small groups and follow ups. All of the above have their own proper places in the kingdom of God; but none of them is remotely close to what the New Testament mandates through which the transformed life is to be mediated. In other words we are confusing the means with the end. Without deep understanding of the gospel, everything else is simply a mere act. With all of our probing of the options at hand, the elephant in the room remains unresolved. With all of our techniques and methods, we are still unchcanged. The lingering question remains the same: “Isn’t then the Gospel powerful enough to transform us from inside out? Is not the Gospel the power of God…is not the word of the cross powerful enough to bring about transformation apart from our petty techniques?”
On the other hand surveying Paul’s own use of the word –gospel– proves to us that we are on the wrong and yes the Gospel is all that we need, that which can’t be over emphasized enough in every context of life:
For Scripture, the Gospel is that all-encompassing reality for the Christian. It’s the big tent that holds and covers everything! It is the sky that drips life and light. We can never graduate from the Gospel. We can never out-know the depth and the mystery of it.
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”
Therefore my own personal call and journey have brought me to this conclusion. Above all, what we need to do is to set aside enough time to get to know the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God (1Tim 1: 11). And come in term with it until we locate our Christian existence around the gospel as the center and source of motivation for everything that we do in this life. So I write this to you, in the words of Peter:
“Beloved, I now write to you…in both of which to stir up your pure minds by way of reminder”
So What’s the Gospel: The good news of the Kingdom
Behind every invention there is an innovator. An innovator creates something in order to resolve a difficulty. Therefore, behind every invention not only there is an innovator, but also a predicament. So to better understand an invention one needs to grasp what the machine is created to resolve. That’s the logic of the invention. Let me give another example, probably that’s one closer to our discussion. Behind great leadership, usually there is not one who is born to be a great leader. Great leaders are shaped by the crisis they were called to resolve. Therefore behind great leadership there is a Story. A story of crisis, pain, suffering, sacrifices…
In the same vein, therefore, to know what the Gospel is all about and how it works, we need to know what the Gospel is here to resolve. This story then provides us a context to see why the Gospel is a good News. Unless we understand this context (what makes the good news –good news) the Gospel would mean very little to us. The scripture is best understood as a story.
Therefore the story of the Gospel presents the story of Creation, the Fall, the Promise of Redemption (Israel and Jesus), and the consummation (End). This is the story of the scripture, the story through which our redemption story emerges. This is the Story of the the Gospel of of the glory of Christ, who is the image of the glory of the blessed God!
Let me then first give you the definition and work our way into the definition.
As faithful stewards of God’s holy Word, as one who rightly divide the word of truth, we should first examine how “gospel” is presented in both testaments in the progress of God’s self-revelation in Salvation History. The second post focuses on the use of the word -gospel- in the Old Testament and the third on the New Testament. Keep on reading!
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