Thursday, May 14, 2009

What is the GOSPEL?

To many people, this is the Gospel message that we should share with others:
  1. God created you to live in relationship with him.
  2. However, you have a sin problem that has separated you from God.
  3. Jesus died to save you from your sins.
  4. If you put your trust in him, he will forgive your sins, you will become God's child, and you will go to heaven when you die.
Is there anything wrong with this "Gospel"?

I'd love to hear what you think.


Damaris said...

What's wrong with this is summarized in the egregious hymn refrain, "And He walks with me, and He talks with me, And He tells me I am His own, And the joy we share as we tarry there None other has ever known." Really? Not even the Apostle John? Not even Peter? Or Mary Magdalene?

We are not only children. We have a huge family, the body of Christ, and one of our most important tasks is getting along with them. The Lord's Prayer doesn't say "My Father," but "Our Father." This Gospel implies that the work of salvation has no need of the Church and can be completed in a moment.

I have always found this summary of the Gospel frankly boring. If I accept it, what is my goal in life? I seem just to be putting in time until Heaven. Instead, I have found great delight in daily "being saved," not just in having been saved and being done with it.

Don't be so thought provoking, and I won't write so much!

AZ said...

In addition to Damaris' very good answer, I'd add:

1. "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works that he prepared in advance for us to do." The brief gospel given in the question leaves out the acts of sacrifice that ought to typify our lives after we are saved. Good works are not necessary for getting over, but they are necessary to living on the other side. The person needs to know that he won't be the same person after he gets to the other side.

2. Romans describes the getting over as dying to sin. The true gospel requires us to die, too, in order to be reborn. I don't think that is evident in the words, "you have a sin problem." The gospel is only good news to someone who is aware of the bad news of their own sin and inadequacy. (An awareness that is more evident in the words of Who Are You? by the Who than in any of the choruses presented at "seeker-friendly" churches.)

3. The gospel as given in the question is 55 words long. It may be as good as any other statement of the gospel as brief as that. But should the gospel be presented in brief? If it is about the fate of one's immortal soul, and about the Will of God Almighty, it deserve as much time as necessary it to tell it fully. Few of us would tell a movie plot or describe our weekend in just 55 words.