The Gospel is Simple
As the years have passed by, I have reflected more and more on what the Gospel is and what it is the answer to. The Gospel is a response to a specific issue in the God-human relationship. There are other things that could be discussed about the Christian faith, but those should be brought up after the Gospel has been shared and accepted. To do it earlier would confuse what the Gospel is and why it is needed. (A problem quite common in our day.)
Too often we think that all the content and ideas that we now know as part of the body of knowledge of the Christian faith must be also received and accepted in order to share the Gospel. This is not correct. All of the theology and concepts that make up orthodox belief are learned after faith in Christ. A faith in Christ that is initiated through an acceptance of the Gospel’s call to repentance.
The Question the Gospel Answers
So, what is the focus of the Gospel? It is to pinpoint the issue that is keeping any person from having a relationship with God.
And what is that issue? It is our sin.
The Gospel is God’s answer to the question of what is keeping me separated from God.
That’s it. The Gospel is not answering any questions about theological quandaries, social problems, or any other questions we might have about life in this world.
The Gospel tells us what needs to be addressed and how God has chosen to address that issue.
We Must Know the Gospel
Several weeks ago I spoke on the theme that would be the focus of this year. Our theme, like this series of reflections, is on knowing the Gospel. In order to be effective disciples we must become experts in the message that saves. If we are not, then we will be unable to effectively engage with the world around us.
Any deficiency in our understanding of the Gospel will find its way into how we think about God, ourselves, and others. When we do not have a firm grasp of what the Gospel is about, we can make it about almost anything. This is a danger to all involved.
It may not appear to be so, but the temptation to “help” the Gospel will increase over time. The singular problem with this drift is it reveals a presumption we have. It is the belief that we know how to best communicate to others what God has perfectly designed.
There are two specific effects of sin that the Gospel addresses as it answers the question of sin. We will look at them now.
Our Identity was contaminated
The first effect is that our identity was completely scrambled by sin. When Adam and Eve accepted the serpent’s version of what God had said, they lost their identity. They were made in the image of God. That means they were reflections of God, not copies of God.
Humanity is not, and was never supposed to be, gods. But, by accepting the serpent’s false promise they have up what they were. They were guardians and stewards of God’s creation. Entrusted with its care and authorized to enjoy its fruits. But when they accepted the possibility of being like God they could no longer enjoy the task they had been assigned.
And ever since then, we have been trying to refashion ourselves as if we were God. This is not only an impossible feat, it is a prospect only a fool would entertain.
Fellowship with others became adversarial
The second effect of sin is that our relationships with others became adversarial. We were not in competition with those around us.
We see this when Adam and Eve both blame someone else for their sin. But we also see it in what happened to the first sons born outside of the Garden. The older, out of jealousy, killed his brother. And then pretended not to know that he was in fact responsible to look out for his brother.
Both of these effects are the consequence of sin. And both of these are answered by the entrance of Jesus into the world. Through his life and example, Jesus begins to show us what a world without sin looks like. But he does it amongst sinners. Giving us hope that we too can someday, somehow do it as well.
The Gospel is God’s answer to the issue of sin. This is the focus of the message we have believed.
Everything else is what we learn as we continue to be thankful for God’s grace in Jesus.