I fear a startling number of believers have embraced a Christianity that feels like this:
There’s a groaning inside many of us for a greater experience with God. You might catch glimpses of its fulfillment during a worship service or maybe while listening to a song on the radio. Then, whoosh, it’s gone again. Replaced by the familiar tug. There has to be more to life than working and raising my family, doing the best I can, keeping the lawn mowed, and gas in the car.
The Gospel – the whole Gospel – is the answer to our emptiness.
Many gospel presentations start and end with, “You’re lost. Jesus saves.” That is, of course, unbelievably good news. But I have become convicted it is an incomplete gospel and it has led to incomplete believers.
David Platt, popular author of the “Radical” franchise of books, is making headlines by questioning the traditional “sinner’s prayer.” While I won’t go that far, I applaud the movement in our understanding of the gospel. Is it a past decision, necessary only for non-Christians? Or is it an ever-present need, even for those of us who “walk with Jesus” every day? Biblically, it is, without doubt, the latter.
If the gospel is reduced, as it often is, to a one-time, past decision, discipleship becomes voluntary and optional. I can’t believe that’s what Jesus meant when He challenged His disciples, “Follow Me.” In contrast, Acts 14:21 reports, “They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples.” By its nature, an incomplete gospel doesn’t make a difference to anyone but you, and therefore doesn’t touch the world. Relegated to the past, it often leaves a person wondering if “abundant life” is real and reachable in the present and leaves the rest of the world wondering why they should bother with Christianity.
Biblically, there are 5 interlocking pieces to the whole gospel: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Reconciliation, and Restoration. Those are all significant words and we’ll have to dig into each one in the coming weeks.
For now, let me attempt to give you the big picture in about 100 words.
The gospel starts before your sin. God’s plan for you began at creation. As with Adam, He designed for us to be alive by His own breath. He placed us in a very real environment, and from that place we are to expand His Kingdom. Because men love darkness, we rejected every aspect of God’s design. Each one of us falls to sin, leaving us in the terrible position of being lost in the darkness. Jesus entered that darkness, lived a sinless life, and died on the cross, thus redeeming us and reconciling us back to the Father. Through this grace, we are now new creations, with a new desire to serve and honor Him. We also have a new Presence, Holy Spirit, who empowers our restoration to the One we now revere so deeply.
While “You’re lost, Jesus saves,” is certainly sufficient, the whole gospel moves our Christianity from a one-time decision, made how many ever years ago, to a daily reality. It’s the difference between a wedding license, a marriage, and a great marriage. Each of this “interlocking pieces, wed to one other, will make an unbelievable difference in our…
Walk WITH Jesus,