What is the Core of the Gospel?
The core of the gospel and how we’ve missed it
The core of the gospel is that-
All mankind has died with Christ, destroying the cancerous spiritual condition that turned humanity away from God.
All mankind has resurrected with Christ, giving them new life, free from slavery to sin and the natural outworking of sin, death.
All mankind has ascended with Christ to the right hand of the Father, including them in the life of the Trinity and giving them the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This is the the good news that the apostle Paul preached.
Here’s a small sample of verses that illustrate that point.
Romans 5- Christ’s act of righteousness is as universal as Adam’s sin.
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned ... Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.
Romans 6- All men have been Crucified with Christ-
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
Galations 2- included in his death
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
2 Corinthians 5- Paul defines his ministry
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. ... in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
The gospel isn’t the news that it’s possible to invite Jesus into your life.
The gospel is the announcement that Jesus has already included you into his life.
As you begin to trust this message you will experience healing in your soul.
You will grow to know Jesus more intimately, and you will realize he’s been with you your entire life.
You will begin to see and experience Father God the way Jesus sees his Father.
You will learn to walk with the Holy Spirit, to recognize her presence and hear her voice.
You will see yourself the way the Father, Son, and Spirit see you, and you will be changed.
Love will transform your life. This will impact your relationships, starting with your direct family.
In the Holy Spirit’s timing, this will overflow to your community, your country, and to the ends of the earth.
The bible refers to this transformative healing journey as salvation.
Unfortunately, the salvation most Western Christians grew up with is a different thing entirely.
The western psuedo-gospel notion of salvation has to do with bridging the separation between yourself and God.
It goes like this-
God has distance himself from you because of all the bad things you’ve done.
If you follow the prescribed formula (choose wisely- 30,000+ denominations can’t all be correct), you can get an estranged Jesus into your life.
God will never really be pleased with you because of your sin, but there are steps you can take to lessen his disgust.
If you pull Jesus into your life and keep him around, God’s punishment upon Jesus will fill his punishment quota, and he won’t have to punish you with eternal flames.
Notice the assumptions within this model-
You are separated from God because of sin- an offensive action that turned God away from us.
Jesus doesn’t really act like God or reveal the Father’s intentions. Jesus tolerates sin, but the Father is more “Holy” and can’t look upon sin or forgive it without punishing someone.
Salvation is being spared from punishment. You are “saved” by a work. Within evangelical circles this work (at least regarding initiation) is to “believe”.
This contrasts heavily with Paul’s gospel where
There is no separation- God has always been present with us.
The cancerous condition of sin turned us away from God (Col 1:21- “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds”).
Because of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, God is in every single person.
The Father works through Jesus to turn the world back to himself. If you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen the Father.
Salvation is the process of healing that occurs when one places his trust in the already present reality of what Jesus has accomplished outside of our good works or willpower.
The Father doesn’t punish sin- sin is it’s own punishment. Jesus entered that cancerous disease of punishment, destroyed it corporately, for all mankind, and recreated mankind to new, sin-free life in his resurrection.
These false, Antichrist (not hyperbole- literally opposed to Christ) assumptions cascade and intertwine, but for simplicity, we’ll trace them to three distinct influences-
Greek philosophy, mainly neo-platonism. This teaches that God is separate and removed from the material realm. This found its way into the church through Saint Augustine, among others.
Arianism- the ancient church heresy that claimed that Christ is a created being, lower and subordinate to the Father.
Penal Substitutionary Atonement- this atonement model is based upon greek separation and an Arian notion of Jesus.
It claims that God is bipolar and narcissistic similar to the two faced Roman God Janus. The scales of his justice and mercy must be balanced.
To “forgive” your sin, he must enact violence upon someone else. There is no free forgiveness. The blood must be spilt.
I hope to address these heresies later as time permits, but the New Testament gives us everything we need to to know. Remember-
- God is not distant- “Christ in you the Hope of Glory”.
- Jesus perfectly reveals the character and nature of God- “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father”.
- The atonement didn’t change God’s mind about us, it changed our minds about God- “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself”.