Archive for February 25, 2008

Gospel is ladder to heavenI’ve always preached that the gospel is the “Good News” of Jesus death, burial and resurrection. This “Good News” brings God’s forgiveness to even the vilest sinner. This “Good News” means we can be born again, born from above, with the promise of “Christ in you, the Hope of Glory”. It is the promise of the “way to Heaven”, our ‘Get out of Hell’ card. But I ran across these verses recently, and they caused me to reflect,

“What is the Gospel Really?”

II Thessalonians 1:5-12 (ESV) This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Coming with angels

The key phrase that struck me was “that you may be considered worthy of the Kingdom of God.” What does the Kingdom have to do with the “Good News” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Evidently there is a connection between the Kingdom and the next verse “obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” What could this connection be? Is there something more to the “Good News” of Jesus Christ? Verse 8 doesn’t sound so ‘Joel Osteen’, does it. This is so horrible to think that Jesus will be revealed in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Doesn’t everyone know God? After all, we were all made in His image.

Romans 1:16-21 (ESV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Here is that wrath/vengeance thing again. And it says that we all did know God, but we did not honor Him as God. The key to receiving wrath in these verses has to do with our ungodliness and unrighteousness. Paul begins this passage with “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes… Then he declares “For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith.” This gospel reveals the righteousness of God to those whose foolish hearts have been darkened. How do our hearts become darkened?—by refusing to honor God as God.

By induction I conclude the following observations about the Gospel:

  • The Gospel requires faith to believe.
  • The Gospel is about producing righteous living.
  • The Gospel is about honoring God.
  • The Gospel is about making us worthy for the Kingdom of God.
  • Obeying the Gospel is the only way to know God.
  • Obeying the Gospel requires obedience to the laws of God’s Kingdom.
  • Failure to honor God and obey His Kingdom Laws will result in wrath and vengeance.
  • The Gospel is revealed in every aspect of the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus the Christ.

King JesusBottom line, the Gospel of Christ is not just about Jesus, his death, burial and resurrection. It is about the Kingdom of God, one which is both present and future. In fact, the future Kingdom will feature Jesus enthroned on God’s Holy Hill, Jerusalem. But for now, Jesus is enthroned upon our hearts. When one comes to Jesus Christ and confesses Him as Savior, he must also agree to honor God as God, and grow in righteousness. The Gospel throught the power of the Holy Spirit will produce that desire to walk in the truth. If it does not, then perhaps you had a wrong understanding of the Gospel. Perhaps you were deceived.

The Gospel is not the “Good News” of our forgiveness or even our eternal salvation. The Gospel is the “Good News” that we can draw near to God, we can partake of His righteousness, and we can “walk in faith” as we live to honor Him and obey the laws of His Kingdom. The Gospel is all about the Kingdom of God. That is what God is moving toward. He will establish His Kingdom once more, but for now He is content with reigning in our hearts.

The “Good News” should never be ‘man-centered’, but always be ‘God-centered’.