I remember, years ago, being involved in a conversation including my dad and a few of my cousins. The conversation had turned to salvation and Dad asked one of my cousins if he had ever been saved. My cousin replied that he had, and recounted a time when he was nearly electrocuted but survived. He reckoned that since he had been saved from death at that moment that’s what Dad was talking about! (For the record, this cousin now knows what my Dad was talking about and does profess faith in The Messiah). Many people have no real idea of what one means by “been saved”. And to add to the confusion, many people in the American church today who profess to be saved, have an incorrect understanding of what it is they actually profess to have “been” because they don’t really grasp the gospel.
Gospel is a word that means, “Good News”. We church people often times forget that, as we do with a lot of “churchy” words and phrases. When Peter, Paul, John, James, Jesus was proclaiming the good news it was more than merely, “Here’s how you get saved!” Somehow, though, we have reduced it down to just that. Evangelism has become much like the task of being an insurance salesman.saleswoman as we try to convince people to get their fire insurance before it’s too late. If they don’t open a policy before death then there’s nothing they can do to protect themselves from external damage.
This faulty view of the gospel has taken it’s toll in how we live afterwards. While this “fire insurance” works well with certain worldviews – like the escapist worldview that says it’s all going to hell anyway and we just need to get as many people out of this Titanic as possible and into the lifeboat of Jesus – but it doesn’t jive with the whole of Scripture nor does it deal with sin, evil, and death as God tells us He dealt with it through Jesus. See, sin doesn’t win. God isn’t just going to destroy this creation since it’s been infected and take all those who believed in Jesus up to their mansion in the clouds way, way up high. (in comes the children’s chorus, “Somewhere in outer space, God has prepared a place for those who trust Him and obey!”) No! God is going to reclaim His creation. He is renewing it in and through Jesus. This is what was so glorious about the resurrection. The body that was mutilated by evil was resurrected. It was renewed. Not a different body, but the same body. Sure it was different in some aspects, things were changed about it, but it was the same body that hung on the cross that got up out of the grave! This is the Good News! That although this creation is mutilated with sin and evil, God is putting all things right, and He’s doing it through Jesus!
Why is this important? Because this affects the way we live. We see God’s creation as something that is good and our lives here and now as a means to further His kingdom. We actually become a part of what we have termed “The LORD’s Prayer”:
“Our Father Who art in heaven hallowed be Your Name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” ~ Jesus
If you think it’s only going to get worse then there’s nothing we can do about it but bunker down and pray for Jesus to come back before it gets too bad. But if you see the good news as God, through Jesus, setting things to the way they should be then you will be a part of that work. You will be a part of a city on a hill! You will effectively be the salt of the earth! You will be the one performing good works of love that others see and glorify The Father because of! You will be a part of the church that the gates of hell will not prevail against!
The gospel is not simply about how you can get to heaven. The gospel is much bigger than you.
“The Gospel is not simply, ‘Here’s how to be saved’; it’s the good news that, through Jesus the Messiah, the creator God is putting the whole world right.” ~ N.T. Wright