Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Gospel, The Gospel

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“The Gospel, the Gospel,
Fragrance in words.
The sea of my soul is calmed when it’s heard.”
(The Gospel, Jimmy Needham)

It’s the focal point of scripture. The entire Old Testament points forward to it, and the entire New Testament points back to it. If the Bible were a novel, the Gospel would be the climax. If it were a musical score, the Gospel would be the resounding fortissimo after an intensifying crescendo.

The Gospel is nothing short of awesome.

But what is the Gospel? In short, the gospel is summed up in possibly the most well-known (yet underappreciated) verses in the world: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)” But in order for us to fully understand the gospel, we need to understand four key aspects of it: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation.

God created a sinless, perfect world, of which He said, “it is good.” However, sin entered into the world through Adam’s disobedience. But because of God’s infinite love and justice, He sent His Son to die, fulfilling the eternal debt that we owed. The Son then rose, conquering death and giving us life in Him. He will one day take us home to be with Him, and He will re-establish all things.

That’s the Gospel. That’s the story. That’s the Good News. And while there are things that some might add or detract from that particular explanation, the Gospel is nevertheless the center of our faith. If you remove even one of those four key elements, you do not have the complete Gospel. (If you look closely, you’ll find that Paul hits all of these points in both Acts 17:22-31 and Colossians 1:15-23.)

There’s a problem, though. If the gospel is truly the epicenter of Christianity, then why do the vast majority of Christians keep it to themselves? Sure, we talk about God, but why do we share the Gospel so little?

We’re often quick to think of this question as rhetorical, but I think there are specific reasons why we hesitate to spread the Gospel. These reasons are many, but I’d like to point out one that I believe is less often addressed:

We tend to equate spreading the Gospel with “leading people to Christ.”

The problem with this is twofold: Firstly, our goal is not to lead people to Christ. Our goal is that they be lead to Christ, whether we are the ones doing so or not. Secondly, leading someone to Christ is an end result. Remember 1 Corinthians 3:6-7:

“I [Paul] planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

So yes, we should want people to receive salvation through our spreading of the gospel, but it requires that we, well, spread the gospel!

When we focus only on leading people to Christ, we’ll find ourselves only spreading the gospel to those whom we think are “ready.”

It’s futile for us to pick and choose whom we think is ready to give their lives to Christ, because no one’s ever ready; it’s the Lord Who draws men to Him! It’s as if we’ve taken the “fishers of men” analogy and flipped it on its head: we evaluate who’s ready to “bite” and who’s not, when we should simply be casting the line with every opportunity!

In the words of Pastor Voddie Baucham, I have nothing greater than the gospel. I can give insight into scripture, and I can give advice, but I can give nothing greater than the gospel. But really, why would I want to? What could the Gospel be lacking that I could in any way add to it?

The Gospel is nothing short of awesome. Do those around me know that?

Check out Jimmy Needham's original hymn, The Gospel.  It's one of my favorites!

What other reasons do you believe we often fail to spread the Gospel?
Share with us in the comment section!