Have I Experienced the Whole Gospel?
A funny title you may think to yourself: after all, I have been saved for “x” number of years.
For the most part, contemporary Christianity focuses on only two aspects of the Gospel (Good News), the fall and redemption. The goal of many churches is to win the lost, getting them to a personal experience of redemption. To accomplish this, much of the preaching focuses on either our deplorable sinful state or the grace of His redemption. Neither of which I deny is true.
Once someone experiences this redemption, it seems the preaching and ministry focuses on how we need to live to maintain this state of redemption. Some ministries, it seems, use the fall or sin as a form of manipulation to keep us in a state of repentance, seeking afresh the redemption. Unfortunately, the ultimate outcome can be condemnation and a guilt complex: we come believe God cannot or will not use us because we are in such bad shape.
Now, before you crucify me, please understand: I acknowledge our fallen state from Adam and our need of saving grace and a true transformed life of repentance. But what I have experienced and others have expressed to me is never moving beyond this fall/sin and redemption/repentance cycle. It is a common statement among preachers: “You get what you preach.” Well if we continually focus on this cycle, what we get is fearful, guilt ridden, inactive pew sitters: most just hoping to make it into heaven.
The Gospel is Good News and it is greater than this!
The fullness of the Gospel story actually begins at creation: Man was created to be God’s image and representative! Yes Adam sinned and lost the representational role, but the Good News of Jesus Christ is that he came to restore man BACK to God’s original plan – restoration to be His representative.
So from this context, we can see the Good News actually has four components: It is Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration. The Good News is not just we have been redeemed, but we have been restored! (pardon me while I shout a bit!)
The application then is if we live in the restoration of the Gospel, we will view our lives from that perspective and begin to bring Jesus in an incarnational way to our daily lives. It is here we find that we have the authority to demonstrate the power of His kingdom, revealing to this world there is a greater life available. This is the Good News!