What is the “Gospel” and what practical implications does the Gospel make in my everyday life?
Let me begin by saying I love what Frame and Storms have written. I would simply add that the gospel is also the good news that I have been rescued from Satan- the enemy of my soul, and that Jesus is establishing his kingdom.
What makes all of this so wonderful and perpetually relevant for the people of God is that in all of this, the gospel reveals something of the worth, beauty, splendor and glory of Jesus. Through the gospel, there is the perpetual revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus through the gospel, and this revelation is one that touches my mind and heart so that I know that I know….that I know God as the Spirit bears witness with my spirit.
As we continue to answer what “is” the gospel, I would say that it “is” the centerpiece of discipleship. Paul exhorted Peter that he was failing to “live in line with the gospel.” At the heart of all discipleship is the gospel. By that I mean that we encourage one another to live out its implications, to believe and remember its truths forward, and to see the finished work of Jesus come to bear in our lives.
The gospel is also the power of God. It is the only power on earth, in the universe for that matter that has the power to take the most broken aspects of our lives, families and society and to redeem them at such a profound level that they bring glory to God (radical, dynamic authentic change). The power that spoke light into darkness and water to wine also breaks the hardest hearts and progressively turns people into the image of Christ as the same God speaks through the gospel.
The gospel is also the message and strategy for mission. The gospel is what the nations need! Nothing else has the power to sustain a people in persecution, to build the church, and to captivate the hearts of the lost. It is the gospel that is going out to all the earth bearing fruit and not returning void. While we are called to meet the most basic needs of people (feeding, shelter, relationship, etc) we do so while we also seek to meet their most fundamental need, to be reconciled to God the Father.
Finally, the gospel is the way I read and understand scripture. If I am reading Moses or if I am reading Paul, I am looking for something that shows me the glory of Jesus in the gospel.
What is “sin” and what is so terrible about it when I do sin? And what is my motivation to not sin?
Again I love what Sam Storms has said on this. No need to repeat it. Let me simply add these comments to the motivation not to sin. Not only do I “get God,” but I “get the Spirit in fullness.” Sin often has the result of grieving and quenching the work of the Spirit in my life and all the benefits that he brings. When I repent of sin and turn to God in faith, times of refreshing come from the presence of God carried by the Spirit. I also “get” to stay under the fount of grace. When I chose sin, I’m usually choosing a substitute for Jesus, a false gospel, a false savior (Gal. 1:6). The result is that I become separated from the stream of grace that flows from Jesus (Gal.5). Because I can do nothing apart from Jesus and his grace, there is incredible motivation to avoid sin. Finally I’d also say that I “get” or that incredible promises are made to those who walk in obedience (turning from sin). Consider all the promises given to us for abiding in Christ, his love and truth in John 15. He bears much fruit, his asks and receives in prayer and the joy of Jesus is made full in us.
What is God’s end goal for this world, all humans of this world, and me personally? Where is He taking it and what does it look like for me to be a part of that goal, and how can I have a role and purpose in that goal, and find meaning, and value, and my joy in that goal?
I have to say my heart is delighted reading Sam Storms’ responses. They are glorious! Simply steep like a tea bag in what he has written until it gets ingrained in you! I have nothing to add to what he has said. But let me show what this might look like, from my perspective, worked out on a daily basis- let me put shoe leather to these grand statements. How will you do this…how will it happen? First, seek to encounter God, encounter Jesus in truth. What this means is that when you come to the scriptures, do not read them for mere doctrine or for biblical understanding. Rather, read until 2 Cor. 3:18-4:6 becomes true of you. Read, like Peter says “until the Morning Star arises in your heart.” Read until “his Spirit is bearing witness with your spirit.” Read until your spirit is actually “tasting and seeing that Jesus is good.” Secondly, pray! Grab these promises and come to the throne of God like the man in Luke 11:5-9 praying with “impudence” (a kind of inappropriateness considering who we are and who God is) saying that we will have nothing for life and to give this world unless he makes these things true of us. Pray expecting to receive. Pray until these things are true. Finally, go and be the “witness” he has called us to be (Acts 1:8). Go be the people whose lives give testimony to the fact that we have been given eyes to see and ears to hear, that we know the living God and that we have encountered him in the gospel and that life in his kingdom is abundant and deeply satisfying. Go and BE these kinds of people to the world…which is being the salt of the earth and light of the world.
How can I, as a Christian who believes the Gospel and affirms orthodoxy, be compelled to genuinely desire God and the kingdom of God enough to become a true disciple, one who is willing to consider all things loss in comparison with knowing and loving Jesus?
The answer is found in the comparison of Matthew 13:44-46 and Matthew 18: 21. The first is the parable of the field with the hidden treasure and the parable of the pearl of great prize. Seeing and knowing the incomparable value of the field and the pearl, the person sells everything they have in order to gain the prize. The next passage is the story of the rich young ruler, who when asked to sell everything could not and would not do so. The difference? One like Paul was able to see the “surpassing value of Jesus” (Phil. 3:8). The other was not. When we see the surpassing value of Jesus, we see him as the “one thing that is necessary” (Luke 10:42). So this takes us back to what has been said above. It’s not only that I can see and encounter Jesus in the scriptures but its that there is an urgency to this. If I am not, then I will most likely settle for something far less than what Jesus has offered. I will settle for outter courts living. I will drink old wine and say, “it’s enough.”
What is God’s mission given to us and how do I fulfill it without it becoming a feeling of another thing I have to do for God? And based upon that, What is needed at the personal, and church level to shape culture and to be on strategic mission?
A repeat on Sam but let me say this. We must continue to come to Jesus and charge the throne of grace until “the love of Christ compels us” (2 Cor. 5:14,15). If we are content to get about mission and ministry without this love stirring and pulsating in us, we ought to read 1 Cor.13 again. “If I give my body to be burned but do not have love, etc”. In the end, this is the only kind of ministry and mission that is going to have the fingerprint of God on it.
For you personally, what has been the most compelling or powerful aspect of the story of the Bible that you delight in, has come to you fresh, and resulted in you loving God more and being excited to be a part of God’s story?
If I am being honest, it’s usually wherever I happen to be reading. Right now I am being stirred by the book of Jonah. A book that I’ve read so many times continues to unlock new treasures and new glimpses into the person of Jesus.