Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Gospel in the Bible's Language

Lately I've been reflecting on the Gospel, and what the true significance of being a Christian really is. What is core? In some respects this is a very simple question, in others its been a challenge.

I'd like to say I've shared the gospel with others so much the whole thing is second nature, but that's simply not the truth. One thing that bugs me a bit is that usually our concept and presentation of the Gospel is so thoroughly defined by systematic theology. This isn't wrong per se, but I'd imagine it can make the Bible a bit hard to understand for new believers. After all, the language of the Gospel they accepted is just very different from the story of redemption in the Bible. So what would the Gospel presentation look like if we just used biblical language?

I've been trying to think of ways to present the Gospel using the language and categories of scripture, that would still make the Gospel accessible but at the same time be close enough in proximity to the key themes and points of the Bible that a new believer would have a "head start" of sorts.

I'm certainly not there yet. What follows is a working "rough draft" of sorts. It's also a lot longer than what a practical presentation would have to be. Some details need to be cut out (like the part about covenant), others are already cut (such as details concerning the atonement). I included some examples of passages that seem to reflect certain points, but please don't treat these as "proof texts", as they certainly aren't intended that way, and since they are mostly off the top of my head, they certainly aren't exhaustive.

Thoughts / comments / ideas / critique / whatever would be great

What is the Gospel about?

  • The problem - Our world isn’t right; it has a lot of problems

    • Why was man created?
      • Bible begins story in Garden pointing that man was created for fellowship with God
      • Man uniquely created in God's image, man uniquely entrusted with stewardship over creation
      • Man freely chose to break this fellowship, bringing sin into creation

    • According to the Bible, Sin is the root of the world’s problems
      • Sin is fundamentally an anti-God perspective (Rom. 1)
      • Because of the fall, sin entered the world and everything was affected (Rom. 5, 8)
      • More importantly, because of fall all people are now slaves to sin (Rom. 1:18-19; 5:12-14; 6:23; Jam. 1:15)

    • What's so bad about sin? Sin brings death:
      • Physical -- we weren't created to die
      • Spiritual -– Sin breaks down our fellowship with God, and so we are considered spiritually dead
      • Eternal -- Because of sin, everyone is in danger of spending eternity in a place of separation, judgment, and condemnation
      • God is equally just and loving, and so although he loves people, he cannot tolerate sin and must condemn those who are sinful

    • The problem then is:
      • Creation has been corrupted due to sin
      • Humanity, created to be in fellowship with God, is now in danger of eternal condemnation and separation from God

  • The Climax of God’s story of redemption
    • God’s love and mercy for humanity drives him to act in history to bring redemption (Rom. 5:8)

    • God’s Kingdom is pictured as invading the earthly kingdom of evil (1 Cor. 15:23-25)

    • Redemption: rescuing from kingdom of this world and transferring membership to God’s Kingdom (Col. 1:13; Acts 26:18; Eph 5:8)

    • God's redemption is centered on covenant:
      • Covenant is God's promise to people to bring redemption
      • Old covenant was:
        • God's establishing of a people to be a nation that drew people to God
        • God revealing his standard of righteousness through law which is an important part of covenant faithfulness
        • Failed because people were not faithful (Heb. 8)

      • New covenant is:
        • Not "separate" from the old, but rather a natural progression and fulfillment of the old
        • Establishing a people without national distinction to now proclaim God's message to the world
        • Succeeds because of Jesus' faithfulness (Heb. 8)

    • Jesus is the fulfillment, center and climax of God’s story of redemption:
      • His life: proclaiming and living the Kingdom, and fulfill the expectations of the coming Messiah King
      • His death: sacrifice necessary to redeem us from condemnation (John 3:18; Rom. 8:1)
      • His resurrection: bringing life and restoring our fellowship with God (Rom. 5:12, 15, 18-19; 6:4-11)

    What does it look like to be redeemed?

    • Our new identity
      • Dead to sin, alive to righteousness (Rom. 6; John 1:13)
      • This life includes our minds/hearts/attitudes/etc being continually transformed, renewed, and reoriented towards God (Rom 12:1-2; Col 3; Eph. 4:15)
      • This life includes an identity marked by pursuing righteousness (Matt. 5:48; Eph. 4:22-24)
      • This is a fundamental reversal of the effect of sin: instead of being anti-God because of the fall, we are now pro-God

    • New Life includes:
      • Peace (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:14-15)
      • Joy (John 15:11)
      • Hope/Confidence/Assurance (Rom. 8:23-24; 1 Tim. 4:10; Heb. 4:16; 6:17-19)
      • Membership in God's family (Rom. 8:15; John 1:12)

    • Enduring trials today for rewards in eternity (Rom 8:18)

    What is required to get in?
    • Not by works (Rom 3:20 etc)
    • Repentance (Mark 1:15)
      • Turning from sin to God (Rom. 6:12-13)
      • Obedience

    • Believe (Mark 1:15)
      • Faith is the only basis for salvation (Rom 4:5)
      • Trusting in God
      • Submitting our unique gift of free will, desires, and expectations to God

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