This past week I finished up the remarkably written book by Greg Gilbert titled What is The Gospel? I know I mentioned this in the last post, but I had different emotions when it came to reading a set of books that I generally categorized as “those books” in my mind. The type of books that don’t have anything to do with historical fiction (my favorite) or are not the Bible. I got prepared with highlighters and neon pink post it notes. I wanted to soak up everything I could. I felt as though this book was going to be very helpful in clearing up a lot of foggy thinking and wrong notions I had about the gospel. Again, as previously mentioned, a lot of preconceived ideas were definitely put to rest and/or corrected within the pages of this little black book. I am happy to say that I am better off for trusting in the Lord through all this.
It is so neat to see how far you have come when reading books such as What is The Gospel? On the flip side, it so humbling to realize there is still so much I don’t know, but want to seek the Lord in. I wanted to share a few things with you that I found to be so true in my walk with Christ, and some shattered notions that I previously believed. The breakdown of the “Three Substitute Gospels” in chapter seven hit closest to home for me. I just wanted to share some on this, and thoughts I had while reading through the conclusion of this book.
One of the “Three Substitute Gospels” listed in the book is the “Jesus Is Lord” gospel. Although this declaration is described by Gilbert as “magnificently true!”, and he goes one to say that, “Jesus’ lordship is essential to the gospel message,” he goes on to explain why this popular version of the gospel is not good news at all if you don’t explain that, “Jesus is not only Lord but also Savior.” I was blown away at the break down of this, and the correction was so needed for me. People also need to know that He died for them, so that sinners, “may be forgiven and brought into the joy of his coming kingdom.”
I was thinking back on how I have tried to tell someone about my faith. I sold it so short of what it is truly about. I think in a way I pulled the, “But wait there’s more!” infomercial tactic on people without realizing the most important part of our response to the gospel was being shoved out. That part included repenting and placing trust in Jesus’ work on the cross. This weekend I couldn’t help but feel as though maybe we skip all the parts that would scare someone away because we want to win them for the kingdom! Heck, I use to get nervous sharing a post on Facebook about my faith just thinking of what others might say. I never wanted to mention the other parts like, “Jesus stood in your place, and took the punishment you deserved,” or, “There is nothing good in you or me apart from Him.”
In our culture today, telling someone they deserved some kind of punishment isn’t exactly something people want to hear. We live in a time where we do everything that makes us feel good. I heard a local pastor state this week that the reason people don’t like the thought of following Jesus is because, “He messes up their system.” A system that allows you to earn His love or earn your way to heaven. But because He has already paid the cost on your behalf there is nothing for you to do other than to accept His free and perfect gift. I think this is so true, but I think people also don’t like to be told (especially when they think they’re so good) that apart from Jesus standing in their place, they are going to receive the wrath of God! For me, this was difficult to understand. I often found myself thinking, “Well, why am I so bad that I would deserve such a punishment?” But then I think, “Well what did Jesus ever do to deserve the cross?” Clearly there was an exchange that was taking place. He stood in the place where you and I should have so that we would be able to stand before our King when the time comes.
I know I am not strong enough, or good enough, to make it to heaven based upon my merit. But I thank the Lord that He sent His only Son! The fact remains that I will never be perfect until I am with Jesus. Until then, I stand in awe of what He has done for me. I don’t know about you, but just the thought of that sacrificial love can move me to tears. I love the way Gilbert puts it on the last page of chapter seven: “What if people laugh at the gospel because it’s about a man dying on a cross? So be it, Paul said. I’m preaching the cross. They may think it’s ridiculous; they may think it’s foolish. But I know ‘the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom’ (1 Cor. 1:25 NIV).”
All for His Glory