So yesterday I raised four concerns relating to who God is and what the gospel involves. Here are some more concerns with how the Gospel is packaged and presented, that I raised recently in a lecture I offered in Bristol.
5. At its core, the gospel is an issue of trust, not commitment. We tend to have very imprecise language in some churches. We speak about people committing to, or dedicating to, or promising to follow, or giving their life to, or inviting Jesus into their hearts, etc. All of these phrases might be defended in some way, but equally all are open to the charge of imprecision since they can be massively misunderstood. What must I do to be saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. At its core, the gospel asks us to do nothing, promise nothing, achieve nothing, it asks us to respond to Christ’s work by trusting in Him. That is, placing the full weight of our lives and eternity fully on him. That is, fixing the gaze of our hearts and souls on him, not on ourselves, our effort, our commitment or our decision.
6. The Gospel is centred on a cross and an empty tomb. I have heard too many gospel presentations that feel completely metaphysical and have no historical rooting in reality. Too many times I’ve heard that God loves us and we need to come to him. How? The cross has to be included. Actually, I’ve heard even more gospel presentations (including my own), that include the cross but omit the resurrection. Somehow we seem to have lost sight of the Acts emphasis on being witnesses of the Risen Christ!
7. The Gospel points us to Christ, not ourselves. This is following on from point 5, but pushing it further. Let’s not be offering people assurance by turning their focus back onto themselves again. It is a cul-de-sac to think that our primary source of assurance comes from looking at ourselves, at how we’ve changed, at what we’ve prayed, at the date in our Bibles or any such thing. Our assurance is Christ Himself. The Spirit gives us assurance by pointing us back to Christ and pouring out the love of God into our hearts.
Ok, three more tomorrow to finish this mini-series of posts.