Thursday, May 14, 2009

the gospel

"Gospel" simply means "good news." JR Woodward is currently having a great series on the good news, with a host of contributors.

I am weary of gospel presentations which fail to take into account that the good news is for all creation. Yes, humans made in God's image are at the pinnacle of creation. But as such, we are meant to be involved in both the fellowship and works of God.

Sin has to be taken care of, and that indeed is ongoing for us in Jesus in this life. But we must not stop there. Too often gospel understanding does; it's all about forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

To better understand this, we need to consider more carefully Jesus' message of the gospel/good news of the kingdom of God. And we need to read the Bible more as story, how God is at work in the world and what his work is heading toward in Jesus. A work that begins now, in this life.

I believe the point of Scripture, or goal of the good news, indeed an important aspect of it is to help us see God's work in Jesus in the world, that we might become a part of that work in the kingdom and new creation in Jesus. It's written primarily as story, or story is at the heart of its writing, seeing it as God's story in the world, meant to catch us up and carry us along in the same story.

We don't want to lose sight of "the simple gospel," but neither do we want to see the good news as less than what it is, a news that is for all the world, to bring humans into no less than God's kingdom working and trinitarian community, in Jesus.

Not an easy post, and a subject I'll always be working on in this life, both to better understand and better live out.

But what would you like to add to these words?


nannykim said...

OK, give us a bit more clarity--not sure what the difference is between the gospel and his kingdom work --the whole story line. Or are you saying that this is what the gospel is?--ie the expanded version of the gospel?

In the book on prayer that I am reading by Paul Miller there is a chapter called "Developing an eye for Jesus". He says, "A principle source of cynicism comes from looking up at Christian leaders who have gotten Jeus' kingdom mixed up with their own. Ministry itself can create a mask of performance, the projection of success...In contrast , Jesus never used his power to show off. He used his power for love. So he wasn't immediately noticeable. Humility makes you disapear, which is why we avoid it."

"In order to see Jesus, I would have to look lower. I would have to look at people simply, as a child does. I began to ask myself, 'Where did I see Jesus today?'"

I think these are good points--I like looking for Jesus and His working---works around us---I think you are saying, to look at the big picture of God's kingdom at work from start to where it is headed? Not sure--give a bit more clarification when you have time.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Of course 1 Cor 15 speaks of the good news in light of Jesus' work in death and resurrection, and the promise for us. In Colossians we read that in Christ God has reconciled all things to himself.

When Jesus came he proclaimed the good news of God's kingdom having broken into this world, not of or from this world, but meant to bring in the new creation beginning now. And if Christ's redemption includes not just humans, but all of creation, than that's part of the gospel or good news we need to understand.

Scot McKnight's book, Embracing Grace, a Gospel for us all- entitled something like that, is an excellent book to see what I'm getting at, or more accurately what theologians are getting at when they speak this way.

But of course that doesn't negate "the simple gospel." It just means that this gospel is meant to impact the world through us who in Jesus are the salt of the earth, and the light of the world.

Does that help a bit?

Ted M. Gossard said...

...I am hurried, but this is a blog...

but impact every sphere of creation, but only as we live out this gospel, this kingdom of God.

Remember, Jesus said this is the good news, that the kingdom of God was near, actually present in him.

Bill said...

I'm with you on this, Ted. How is the gospel really good news if it does not permeate every part of our lives. God is not saving sinners then placing them in a display counter. By the power of the gospel we are delivered from the dominion of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of God's beloved Son. The dead are made alive in Christ for the very purpose of offering our lives as living sacrifices!

JR Woodward said...


Thanks for the HT and I'm glad you are enjoying the series.

nannykim said...

yes, well.....and God makes all things new and will make all things new---he redeems even creation as far as Romans says:

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience."

Perhaps you are talking about what N.T. Wright refers to in his book, Simply Christian---he has a chapter called, New Creation, starting now. I like what he says here:

"The New Testament picks up from the Old the theme that God intends, in the end, to put the whole creation to rights. Earth and heaven were made to over lap with one another, not fitfully, mysteriously, and partially as they do at the moment, but completely, gloriously, and utterly. 'The earth shall be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.'.......The great drama will end, not with 'saved souls' being snatched up into heaven, away from the wicked earth and the mortal bodies which have dragged them down into sin, but with the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth, so that the dwelling of God is with humans; (Revelation 21:3)

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. Well stated. And the gospel is not just for human beings, either. Sure, it's directed to us, but it's indirectly for all things, and really ends up in the new creation in Jesus, being directly for everything, when all is made new. And that begins now in Jesus. The good news of the kingdom of God coming into this world!


Ted M. Gossard said...

JR Woodward,
Thanks much! Blessings on you, on your work, and on your blog!

Ted M. Gossard said...

You're right. And good quote from N.T. Wright.

It takes time for this to soak in and get through- it has in my case! But while we must not lose sight of what the gospel means for all of us individual sinners, we also must work on understanding more and more what the gospel of the kingdom coming in Jesus means here and now in this world. For example the new way of being Israel in the world as given to us in The Sermon on the Mount.

Thanks for the exchange.