March 14th 2010

The Fullness Of The Gospel

“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 (NIV)

The fullness of the gospel is an expression I sometimes use to distinguish the true gospel from harmful imitations. The gospel is not a message of “You’d better work harder to be good so God won’t kill you.” On the other hand, nor is it a message that says, “It doesn’t matter what you do or how you live.”

Quite the contrary.

The gospel is a message that God loves you, accepts you, and wants you, and that God will transform you into the person he made you to be. As disciples of Jesus, we are to spread the gospel to everyone. And as we do, we need to remember that we are not responsible for saving people. God takes care of that.

In fact, when Christians think they are responsible for saving people, they tend to use overly emotional or coercive approaches in their attempts to get people to respond to the gospel. Often they paint God as angry or vengeful by ignoring Jesus’ teaching that God loves humanity and that mercy wins over judgment. Such teaching turns the “good news”, which is what the word gospel means, into bad news. Jesus didn’t say “force or coerce people to accept the gospel.” He said, “Proclaim the gospel.”

Our job is to display God’s love, not display our own judgmental-ness or self-righteous pushiness. Paul compared preaching the gospel with planting physical seeds, and pointed out that it is through God’s love that those Gospel-seeds grow.

The fullness of the true gospel is nothing less than God becoming human, living a sinless life in the flesh, dying for sinful humanity in humanity’s place, rising from the dead as the glorified Man and ascending to the right hand of the Father as humanity’s Saviour and Advocate. In doing so, he redeemed and reclaimed every aspect of what he called ‘good’ when he created humanity in the beginning.

The Christian life is a life in union with Christ. Paul writes “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Being an authentic Christian is more than just a social association with other believers. It is a new and distinct identity in our Creator and Redeemer. It is a transformed life, a new creation, lived out in the redeeming power of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Holy Father, thank you for the Good News of your Son. Help us to proclaim that Gospel in and through our lives lived in you and lived through your Son in us. This is our sacred trust, to co-operate with you as you transform us into the people you intend us to be. We need your help at all times accurately to reflect you life and love to others. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach

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