It’s been an interesting few weeks. This might be the most in-depth look I’ve ever taken at a specific book of the Bible — it most certainly is, but I want to come across as more learn-ed than I am, so we’ll just stick with, “might be” for now.
As we’ve talked through and shared our own stories of our own relationships with the Gospel, it’s made me look at my own.
Growing up, the Gospel was something you shared with non-believers in an attempt to win them to Christ… you know, get them saved. And that’s a good thing, we should be talking about the Gospel with people we know.
But I always got the impression that the Gospel was just the entry point into Christianity. Something for non-Christians. It was something you learned and then jumped into more meatier subjects like the Rapture or angels or speaking in tongues or other biblical topics that mostly only mature Christians know about.
But as we’ve been learning together, the Gospel is not just the basic ABCs of the Christian life. Not at all. The Gospel is the A to Z of the Christian life. It’s not only how you enter the kingdom, but how you live as a part of the kingdom. (this is spelled out in the introduction of Tim Keller’s Galatians for You… the book we’re working through).
But what is the Gospel? At its most simple, the Gospel answers four questions.
Who are we?
We’re helpless and lost. We’re not people who need to be taught the right way to live. We’re in a helpless condition. We’re far worse off than we even know. We’re people in need of rescue.
What did Jesus do?
He rescued us by sacrificing himself. It wasn’t just a general sacrifice, though. It was a substitution… for us. It’s not a second chance for us to go out and try to do good a second time, it was ALL we needed to do but couldn’t do on our own.
What did the Father do?
God accepted the work of Christ on our behalf by raising Christ from the dead and granting us the grace and peace that Christ achieved for us.
Why did God do it?
For his own glory. Not because we earned it or deserved it, but for his own pleasure. He gave something we couldn’t even ask for because we didn’t realize we even needed it. It was just purely and simply… grace.
And that was the gospel that Paul received when he was the Christian persecutor, Saul on the road to Damascus. This was a miraculous conversion that happened after Jesus’ crucifixion.
And it became clear to Paul that the gospel was revealed TO him so that it could be revealed THROUGH him.
And it’s the second word there in all-caps that I’ve been the most selfish with.
Somewhere along the way, I perverted the gospel to something that answered these different questions:
Who am I?
What did Jesus do for me?
What did the Father do for me?
Why did God do it for me?
And while it’s probably important for me to have a personal understanding of the Gospel and know how it works for me, it really should’t stop there.
With Paul, the gospel didn’t stop with him receiving it.
So, what does it look like to be selfish with the Gospel?
Well, for me, the gospel answered all four of those questions. But when it came other people, I tended to get stuck on the first one. This is a really hard and sad place to live because it causes me forget that the gospel answered the other three questions too.
But if you don’t go there with other folks and don’t preach the full gospel to each other at every step of the Christian life, you become an angry person in the middle of a bunch of people that just need to do better.
Howdy. Nice to meet you.
But now, for the first time in my life. I think I have real friends. I have friends now who intimately and personally know the answer to the first question. They can also, unfortunately, confirm that about me. But thankfully, we can walk through the other three questions together too.
I’m new at this and the walking is awkward and wobbly and I feel like I can’t catch my breath most of the time. But as we answer that first question and confirm that answer time and time again, the answers to the other three questions become more and more beautiful. Like a sunset that just keeps getting better and better and better and the sun never quite sets.
And like a beautiful sunset, it’s better with company.
Somethings aren’t as good when you’re selfish. The gospel is one of those things.
Here’s the link to the book we’re working through. You should look at it too. It’s good: http://smile.amazon.com/Galatians-You-Gods-Word-ebook/dp/B00BEIPSMC/