What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

cropped-reactivate-faith.png

This should be a simple answer for Christians, but sadly there has been much confusion about the gospel. We seem to bring out what the gospel effects in Scripture and in life to being the gospel. The focus of the gospel will turn to the story of Scripture or to the implications of the gospel. The story of Scripture can be summed up as God created, Man sinned, Jesus saves, and God restores (peace with God in heaven). While the story of Scripture is biblical, God creating is not the gospel. Yes, all things have been created through and for Jesus (Col. 1:16), but creation is not the gospel. Gospel means good news, but creation is not the gospel Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 15. The gospel of John starts with creation, but good news comes to trump bad news and the bad news came after the fall in Genesis 3, not Genesis 1.

what is the gospelAnother focus on the gospel is the implications of the gospel. For instance, the gospel changes the way we live. One of those is racism. During the New Testament, there was hostility between Jews and non-Jews (Gentiles). The Jews even called those who were not Gentiles the uncircumcised. Name designation is hate, just like racism. But Jesus came to bring peace between us and God. There is no peace with God because of sin, but because of Jesus we can have peace with God. This peace transforms us to have peace with others. Christ tore down the dividing wall of hostility between the Jews and Gentiles to put hostility to death through the death of Jesus on the cross (Ephesians 2:11-16). Peace with others is an effect of the gospel, but that is not the gospel. Ending racism in one’s heart is good, but this is the not the good news that leads one to salvation. Not being racist toward someone can lead that person to salvation, but that is not the message we share. The gospel brings transformation, but the transformation is not the gospel. Peace with God comes before peace with others. The implications of the gospel are great when applied, but the implications are not the gospel.

So what is the gospel? The gospel is the story of Jesus. The story of Jesus points us to the person of Jesus and the works of Jesus. The gospel (good news) takes us to a person who made the way to fix the sin in our lives (bad news). The story of Jesus is as follows:

  1. Jesus came.
  2. Jesus died on a cross.
  3. Jesus was buried.
  4. Jesus rose from the grave.
  5. Jesus is coming back.

Simply put, the story of Jesus is Jesus came into this world to live a sinless life. While Jesus lived a life without sin, Jesus was betrayed by one of his own disciples and handed over to Jewish and Roman authorities to be punished to death, even though no one could find a fault in him. Innocently, Jesus was sentenced to die a criminal’s death on a Roman cross leading him to pay the penalty for our sins so we would have forgiveness of sins. Our sin is a serious offense against God with the wages of sin leading to death. This is why Jesus needed to die on the cross, so we would not bear the punishment for our sins and instead have our sins forgiven through the death of Jesus. It was at this moment that Jesus died on a cross. After Jesus died, he was buried in a tomb, but the story is not over. The tomb Jesus was placed in was on loan. On the third day of Jesus’ death, He rose from the grave! The stone in front of Jesus’ tomb was rolled away not so Jesus could escape, but so we would believe Jesus won the victory for our forgiveness of sins and fear of death. Jesus rose from the grave, is now with the Father, and is waiting until God’s appointed time to come back. Jesus is coming back, and when he does, it will be for another reason. Jesus came first to rescue us from our sins, but the return of Jesus will be to judge whether we have received or rejected Jesus. To receive Jesus is to repent of your sins and believe in Jesus as God’s Son to save you from sin. To reject Jesus is to see what Jesus did for you as hogwash. But this receiving of Jesus is not so you will have fire insurance, but so you would live the life you were created to live before sin entered the DNA of humanity. Jesus brings a change of life molding us to live like Him.

The story of Jesus is the gospel. Not the story of Scripture nor the implications of the gospel. The story of Scripture points to Jesus, but it is not the gospel. The implications of the gospel come from Jesus, but those implications are not the gospel. The gospel is Jesus and what He did to save us from our sins.

What Should Be The Next Trend In American Christianity?

If you were to google “Trends in Christianity” you would see a variety of tendencies. Trends will arise in the church’s relationship with culture, trends within the church, and trends within the culture. Trends will come and go like all trends do these days.The culture is constantly changing and we can see the evidence of this by how many iPhones Apple has released. The first iPhone came out in June 2007, and a new iPhone has been released every year since then. Even when the first iPhone came out, it was the phone to have. But since the passing of Steve Jobs, the other companies caught up and some are more innovative than Apple right now.

The point: trends will come and go in life. In the American Church, we have seen trends in contemporary music, missional living, gospel-centeredness, church planting, and discipleship. While these are good trends, there is one trend I pray and hope will come back to focus in the church: evangelism. Why does evangelism need to be the next trend? Well, when was the last time you shared your faith with a lost person? When was the last time you led someone to faith in Christ? When was the last time someone you knew was baptized?

No one likes talking about evangelism today because no one is doing it. The Holy Spirit convicts us to share Jesus, but we don’t like the conviction. We like what Jesus does for us, but not enough to tell others about Him. If Jesus is who we say He is, then why are we quiet? Why does evangelism scare us? Jesus lived a life without sin, died on the cross as an innocent man, was buried in a tomb, rose to live again on the third day, ascended to the Father, and is coming back in judgment. It is Jesus who saved us from our sins. It is Jesus who put us in a right relationship with God. It is Jesus who gives us a new identity. Yet, we struggle to tell others about Him!?!

A better question to ask is not how are we not telling people about Jesus, but why are we not telling people about Jesus? The how tells us what we are to do, the why tells us the reason we do it. So why would we tell someone about Jesus? We tell others about Jesus because only Jesus can save sinners from their sins, sinners must reject Jesus or receive Jesus in repentance and faith, and sinners will not be able to receive Jesus unless someone tells them the gospel. This is why we tell people about Jesus, but do you believe these truths to be true? If you believe them to be true, is your life an accurate reflection of it? To believe something is to practice it. If you are not practicing it, then do you truly believe these truths?

It is my prayer the next trend in American Christianity will be evangelism. Not only do I hope to see more discussion about it, but people practicing evangelism in their life.

Praying The Lord’s Prayer

Prayer is something every Christian has struggled with. I remember no one taught me how to pray when I first became a Christian, and people asking me to pray in public terrified me because I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, so one day I was eating out with friends from church and I start to eat without giving thanks (big sin in church culture). So my friends asked me to give thanks, and I just sat there in silence. Luckily someone else offered to pray in taking pity on me. People have shown me outlines of prayer since then, but to be honest they all sounded pathetic sales for getting people to pray (this is just my honest opinion of looking from the outside in). I have nothing against all the alliteration, acronym, or hand illustrations; they just seemed to offer a fake Christian life. If you use something like this and your relationship with God is growing, then good. But it didn’t help me. So I have not used an outline because they have not made my relationship with God real. It just seemed fake because it felt like I was talking to myself and not having a conversation with God, which is what prayer is all about.

Then God started to convict my heart recently about praying the Lord’s Prayer as I saw it was very similar to other prayers in the Bible. So God led me to create this outline of the Lord’s prayer and ever since creating this outline, my time with God has been rich, joyful, and empowering. Today I want to share it with you. I will share the outline first, and then give a few thoughts on each line.

Praying the Lord’s Prayer

  • Father
  • Sovereign ruler in heaven
  • Praise and honor to His Holy name
  • May the expressions of your kingdom and your will be lived out in my life and here on earth
  • Provide today my daily needs
  • Forgive me of my sins as I forgive others
  • Led me not into temptation, but if so tempted please deliver me from the evil one’s attack

1. Father

How would you describe God in one word? Many would say awesome, others glorious or almighty. These would be true, but we need to first see God as our Father because we approach God as our Father who is quick to listen to our voice and wisely gives us what we need for our good. The quicker you will see God as your Father, the quicker your time in prayer will become richer and joyful because you realize you are talking to Daddy.

2. Soveregin ruler in heaven

See the picture that Jesus is painting of God. Our Father God is in heaven, where He sees what is going in on all over the world including every detail of your life. His hands are working all over the world guiding the world in his good plan. God is in control of everything that happens and is not surprised by world events or the tragedies that come to your life. In the midst of all the good and bad times, God is in control.

3. Praise and honor to His Holy name

God is holy and is the only one worthy of praise. We praise and thank God for who He is and what He has done for us in Jesus the Christ, His Son. Recognizing God as our Father, the sovereign ruler in heaven who deserves all the praise and honor to His holy name sets our mind right as we bring our request before our God as we are putting our confidence in God to answer because we see who He is.

4. May the expressions of your kingdom and your will be lived out in my life and here on earth

I define the kingdom of God like this: the kingdom of God is the rule of God over his people in bringing people into the kingdom through Jesus’ life, death, burial, resurrection, and second coming resulting in the lives of his people to live in obedience to God. In shorter words, we want what God wants to be present here on earth. We want how the angels live in obedience to God in heaven to be true of us who live on earth. So we pray for people to be saved, for people to be living according to God’s way of life as revealed in His Word, and for the his activity in the world of the kingdom of God growing and manifesting itself in the lives of people.

5. Provide today for my daily needs

We do not get this today here in America as many of us already have food in the fridge and the pantry with no worry about the food disappearing. But just like Blue Bell Ice Cream, it could be gone in an instant and may never come back (praise God Blue Bell is coming back). We have needs that need to be met daily and that includes food. We ask God to provide for our physical and spiritual needs not to be answered in a few months, but now because we need it TODAY! Bring all of your personal needs before God and see how quick He is to answer your daily needs and not wants.

6. Forgive me of my sins as I forgive other

We are constantly sinning against God. There is no one else we offend when we sin. Our sins result in hurting others, but our action of sin is always against God. And sin causes a separation in our relationship with God. So we go to God asking Him to forgive our individual sins we commit against Him. God is faithful to forgive our sins, but we must also forgive others as He forgives us. And God helps us to forgive others when we realize it was a bigger deal for God to forgive our sins through Jesus than what someone else did to us.

7. Led me not into temptation, but if so tempted please deliver me from the evil one’s attack

There is nothing wrong with asking God to not lead us into temptation because battling those temptations can get rough. But we will be lead into temptation not because God led us, but because our sinful selves led us to those temptations. When we are being tempted by the attacks of the evil one the devil, we can ask God is deliver us from those temptation before they come. God always provides the way of escape when we are tempted. The issue becomes do we see it and run, or ignore it.

This outline over the past month has made my prayer life so much better and I hope it helps you as well. My time with God is so much richer and joyful because I see I am spending time with my Father who is in heaven. This outline was taken from Matthew 6 and I hope this is a blessing for you. Try this out for a couple of weeks and see how it transforms your prayer life.

What God Has Been Teaching Me About His Presence

It’s beneficial in the Christian life to share what God has been teaching you lately. Actually God is teaching me something else right now. But I want to share this with you because it has been changing my relationship with God. Understanding and realizing the presence of God in your life as a Christian is crucial. It’s one thing to know the Holy Spirit is living inside of you, it’s another to know how that affects your relationship with God. To sum it up, I accidentally found this clip of Francis Chan summing it up better than me in less than five minutes.

What are your thoughts on the importance of the presence of God in your life? What has God been teaching you lately?

3 Questions to Ask to Assure Your Salvation

There is one question every Christian has struggled with: “Am I truly saved?” The reason for this struggle is because of the eternal impact if the answer is: “No”. The devil makes Christians doubt their salvation because he doesn’t want Christian’s to live in the freedom of Christ’s redemption. But the devil even deceives people to think you are saved, when in reality you are not saved. But how can someone know they are truly saved? Ask yourself these three questions:

1. Was There a Time You Repented of Your Sin and Trusted in Jesus Alone for Salvation?

If you have never made the decision to follow Jesus, then you are not a Christian. Being a Christian is not a hobby, but a way of life as an overflow of what Jesus did to rescue you from your sins. You may not remember the exact day or time, but that is not the question. The question is: was there a point in your life that you repent of your sin and trusted in Jesus alone for salvation?

Salvation is the act of an individual repenting of their sins and trusting (belief) in Jesus alone to rescue them from their sin; and God acts in rescuing them from the penalty of sin, restores them to a healthy relationship with God, and promises to give them eternal life in heaven. Did you repent of your sin? Sin is falling short of how God created us to live. Repentance is confessing you are a sinner and making a decision to live in obedience to God. Belief is trusting in Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection to save you. Was there a moment when you did this? If not, what is keeping you from making the decision to follow Jesus?

2. Is There An Increasing Love for God and Others in Your Life?

Once you become a Christian, you start to live differently. Two changes that come is a love for God and others. Jesus summed loving God and others as the two most important commandments (Matt. 22:34-40). Read 1 John 2:3-6 and 1 John 3:14-16.

If you are a new Christian, there is a chance you have not noticed an increase of love for God and others. That is okay if you do not see it now, but hopefully you will see it soon. But this is not a requirement for salvation, but a sign of Christ in you because when we live every day focusing on what Christ has done to save us, our love for God and others increases. If your love for God and others has not increased since your profession of faith, then you may not be a Christian.

3. Are You Living in a Habit of Sin?

Sin is falling short of how God has created us to live. Sin is what separated us from God and caused God to send Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Thank goodness God loves us to enough to provide a Rescuer for us.  the point that he would provide the way of salvation for us. But after some come to faith they make a habit of sin. This does not mean everyone in a habit of sin is not saved because we have to remember we are all sinners. Sinning does not make us lose our salvation, but it can be sign we are not saved. Read 1 John 3:4-6.

Let’s make this clear. First, you will continue to sin every day. Second, sin does not make you lose their salvation. Three, sin is what causes a separation between you and God. So because of these three truths, we have to be careful with this point. John is not speaking about if you sin everyday because John sinned everyday just like you and me. What John is speaking of is a love for sin. A better question to ask yourself is “Do you hate or love sin?” A hate of sin does not mean you stop sinning, but you hate what it does to your relationship with God. A love of sin means you do not care what God thinks about your sin with no remorse over your sin. If you have a love for sin, then this may be a sign that you are not a Christian.

Did this help? If your answer is yes then praise God, live in Christ’ freedom. If not, will you decide to follow Jesus? Will you receive him or reject him. To receive him, pray to God in your own words these four things:

  • Confess to God you are a sinner and you are making a decision to walk in obedience to God (this is repentance).
  • Confess to God you are trusting in Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection to save you from your sin (this is belief)
  • Ask God to help you walk in obedience to Him as you experience this new relationship with God.
  • Thank God for saving you and forgiving you of your sins.