What a subject right. The Gospel.
This post is a tough one due to the way my brain works. I hesitate to even sit here and type because I am not a systemized, or better yet—a recognized member of any formal theological platform. That being said, that is precisely the reason I must get this posted.
The nagging question. What is the Gospel, and why title this post soft serve?
Great question! The Gospel, in brief, is, in a literal sense, the "final word." A verifiable reference to the Greek word Ευαγγέλιο, the good news that is charged with being "κήρυγμα kérugma," proclaimed. In other words, the final word, which is, in fact, good news declared by one who considers this message necessary with due emphasis.
For God (the creator of the world we live in and every living occupant) so loved (agapaō the absolute highest form of love) the world ( the Kosmos, The universe and everyone in it. ), that he gave his only begotten Son (himself), that whosoever believeth (Wholeheartedly Commits to trusting) in him should not perish but have everlasting life.
One verse, the one verse used to express or condense the Gospel, speaks volumes. Yet, even so, today's teachers will find a way to distort it. The reformed camp won't translate it literally where the majority of the remaining systemized churches milk it down. So much so it becomes a soft served invitation.
The message becomes a call for us to ask Him into our hearts instead of giving our hearts to Him. It becomes a vehicle for relieving our tensions and life's adversity versus dedicating our very being to serving our maker. It becomes a message where we are told that it will solve our problems of anxiety and frustration. The message is presented in well, a manner that comforts our needs. It becomes self-serving, makes me feel good transactions that, in reality, is far from the truth.
Pastors will often tell you to close your eyes, do not look around. You might embarrass someone. Raise your hand and repeat after me.
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior.
Keep your hands up ( so I can count ), please come up the front after the service to receive your free newbie kit. Let's give these people a round of applause.
That's all great, but when you really stop to think about it, it's really not the Gospel.
We are talking about God. The maker of everything, coming to this earth in the form of a lowly carpenter, being persecuted beyond recognition, living the perfect life, and giving it all up for you.
We are talking about a real transaction here, a life for a life. He gave his life for you, the logical response is to passionately give your experience to Him in serving your king. Not a half-hearted, in the dark with eye's closed and hand raised agreement.
Think about it for a second, even a human gave his life for you, would you be too embarrassed to thank him? I think not. The Gospel transaction is one where humanity does not just acknowledge, but the bible tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him to give up everything and anything to be sold out for our maker. Nothing less is acceptable, yet the modern pastor will not stand up and tell you that. It's not about you, it's all about Him.
Human nature is a predicable commodity. The same rules apply to almost every aspect of a business to which the modern church is. The message of the Gospel would not gain multitudes as members. It would not have exclusivity of passionate parishioners. Why? Because that would be too hard. Tithing would decrease, and so would his salary.
You have to ask yourself if this post is even reasonably accurate. If the Gospel is an all in the arrangement, if there is no other real explanation. How well does my pastor know the bible? I mean, we are talking about eternity here, right? Your soul. Out of all the topics expunged from the pulpit, this one leaves no room for compromise. Yet, I cannot remember hearing this message presented in a real way, well, at least in the last 30 years of attending "Christian" services.
When you get to a place in life where the bible becomes real to you, things change. Perception changes, understanding changes, and living in itself changes. Which is precisely what has happened to me. I grew up in the modern world of Christian teaching, the contemporary church, with the contemporary theological presentation.
Now when I think about the Gospel message, it is both haunting and exhilarating. Haunting because it is the one commitment that we as humans will all struggle with, exhilarating because if you genuinely believe it becomes the one thing in this world that makes life truly worth living.
We did not make up the idea of a fair transaction. A give and get scenario. However, if you look at the Gospel for what it is, He gave his life for ours, and it is that simple. Anything less is not deemed reasonable—something for us all to chew on.
Ps. I struggle daily of submitting my everything yet in my heart it is a struggle I welcome with open arms.