Wednesday, March 12, 2008

the gospel is big

The gospel is much bigger than most all of us were taught or realize, much bigger from the pages of holy Scripture. Take a look at this excellent post from Bob Robinson on the gospel.

Yesterday in devotions we were in Psalm 103 (still), and in trying to bring out how big this salvation is, not only from that passage, but from the whole of Scripture and the story therein, I broached a topic (what a sidetrail!) from an article I recently read (if you lack time then read only the post from Bob Robinson noted above, and this article; neither are that long, and well worth the time), which conjectures what may have been if humanity would never have sinned. Would we have lost something precious, that be grace comes in the Incarnation and union of God with humanity in Jesus. The article taking the line that indeed, the Incarnation was still necessary even apart from sin, necessary within creation and in realizing the goal God has for humankind.

Such conjecture and theological discussion is in itself rather pointless as we should be thinking on what Scripture says, not what it doesn't say. But it does bring up a most worthy point from Scripture. What is involved in this salvation in Jesus, that goes beyond- without minimizing the importance- the forgiveness of sins? For one thing, humankind is realizing in Jesus the goal there from the beginning, that in God's terms, humankind, made in God's image, would become increasingly conformed and also confirmed in that image. A loss, and increasing loss of God's image due to sin, and letting humans have their way in sin with sin's consequences might be what the heart of hell is all about.

And this is only taking a glance at what salvation is for us individually. Salvation in Christ is much bigger than that, not to minimize the importance of the former. It is cosmic in scope, since all creation is involved, including all things visible and invisible, whatever dimensions exist. And this comes down to earth for us in us looking at how we can bring this salvation to bear on systemic evil around us. A great example of this kind of work is found in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that occurred in South Africa. A work that never would have taken place apart from Jesus coming, his teaching and the gospel.

The gospel has import for all we do in life. We need to think of the gospel in relation to all we do, and pray to God for creative ways of it making inroads into our work and culture, and out from that to the world. Big words, and really beyond me. And I have it easier that way, working for a fine Christian nonprofit organization and ministry.

I'm working on this. Going through again Scot McKnight's recent book, Community Called Atonement, and I'd also highly recommend his earlier book on this as well, Embracing Grace.

I'm not sure everyone in our "devotions" yesterday appreciated the discussion, but I thought it was good for us, to stretch us a bit, in things that are hard to understand. To help us begin to just get a glimpse into the truth of just how big the gospel in Jesus, really is.

What thought might you have on this?


preacherman said...

I love your post today.
It bring back great memories.
When I was in the hospital a nurses aid came into my hospital room about 3:00 a.m. He ask if he could pray over me. I agree. He placed his hand on my head and began praying to God. One of the passages he prayed in the name of Jesus was Psalm 103: "Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, (as he spoke those words I could feel heat coming from his hands, it was a supernatural warmth that I never felt before)praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benifits- who forgives all our sins(I felt all guilt removed and a freedom that was so authentic I can't even explain it to you brother) and heals all our diseases." (I felt the Holy Spirit moving throughout my body a supernatural warmth; my weakside was filling a little stronger. Over the next day in physical therapy I could move my left leg higher than I could ever.

So, Psalm 103 has a special place for me brother. A time when God acted in my life.

A few days after that night. He came in again and I asked him to pray over me. He annointed me with the Holy Spirit, Spiritual gifts, he prayed for generation curses to be broken. I was a minister when I went into the hospital but left with an authentic relationship with God and full of the Holy Spirits power when I left. God is soooooo God.
I will never forget his benfits!

Allan R. Bevere said...

"What is involved in this salvation in Jesus, that goes beyond- without minimizing the importance- the forgiveness of sins?"

What a great question! We seem to get tripped up on so emphasizing forgiveness that we lose the larger nature of the gospel, or we go searching for the gospel that is more than forgiveness and lose the latter in the process.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

When we are totally redeemed, what will we have - all of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit.

If we had never fallen, what would we have - all of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit.

I think the question becomes whether it will mean more to us if we know that we were lost or if we will even remember it since there will be no more pain or tears.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen, Kinney. I believe in all the gifts of the Spirit for today, and it's so good to hear of that brother ministering to you. And from Psalm 103. Certainly a special time of God in your life.

Thanks for sharing that!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, and great thought about the aberrations we easily fall into.

We certainly need to be strong on "the simple gospel", but realize that that gospel is bigger yet in what it means and does.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Great thought and question, and one that theologians ponder and disagree on. I think the most excellent writer, Miroslav Volf touches on it, in his wonderful book, "The End of Memory".

In the end, no matter what, it may have all been the same regardless. I tend to think God's redemption in Christ adds a new element that will be remembered forever. Can't recall where Volf is on that, I think he had changed perhaps.

Thanks for bringing that up. What a wonderful salvation we have, not only saved from, but saved to and for.

Bob Robinson said...

As I will be getting to shortly on my blog, the Imago Dei in us, in my understanding, is inter-related and multi-facted in that we Reflect, Represent, Relate, and Redeem. That last one will be new to many readers... If we are created in the image of God, and the God of Creation is Jesus Christ (John 1, Col 1), then we are created in the image of the Redeemer. As Yancy points out in the article, since God in not a temporal being, the incarnation must have been the "Creator's primary design, not some kind of afterthought or Plan B." Redemption had always been the plan from all eternity. And God created human beings to be participants in that redemptive work. Makes your head spin!!

Ted M. Gossard said...

I need to reread that article as it's been awhile back since I did. Definitely a good one to reflect on.

And I greatly look forward to your postings. I need to spend more time reading from your blog and others, but am nearly always in a battle against being tired. Though I am doing better lately (except this week!).