Monthly Archives: May 2012

What is the Gospel?

I wonder if I have at times become “so familiar” with the Bible and especially the Christian Gospel that I lose sight of its epic, boundless quality. Can you have heard so many sermons that you begin to think there isn’t much new to be learned about God? Or does this reveal a faulty mindset that has lost its way? If God is beyond description, why do we look at His Word as something less than supernatural, epic, and majestic? The Bible (God’s book) is beyond whatever else we might read on a daily basis. I was thinking about this tonight after Pastor Tim Matthews spoke on the parable of the sower and the seed from Matthew 13. He challenged the youth group to dare to study the Scriptures, soak in it and live it. Beyond looking for good principles to apply, Pastor Tim encouraged us to seek to be transformed. He challenged us to be good ground that would produce fruit in God’s Kingdom.

The Bible is not a self-help book. I admit that on many occasions I have taken the “I already knew that” attitude toward something found in Scripture. But the strange thing is I may not have been living by the light of that knowledge. Many times I needed to hear something again that I already supposedly knew.

So I feel led to revisit the basic Christian message, commonly known as the Gospel. What is it really? Is the Gospel just ten basic beliefs about God and His relationship with mankind? Is the Gospel merely about statements of faith? Or is it something more — an ethic, a call to become like Christ? Is the Gospel something that ever changes? Or is it something that only changes us? Is the Gospel fully realized now or a forward looking hope for a better world? Is the Gospel even really about mankind? Or is its core preoccupation mainly God and His glory revealed to humanity?

These questions have led me to develop what I am calling the Gospel Challenge. I am encouraging anybody who has a relationship with God through Jesus to take 30 days to wrestle with what the Gospel is based on Scripture and your own reflection as you pray and listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. May you look to see how the Gospel is lived out in your world. Specifically, I am encouraging other Christians who know me to take up this challenge.

It starts with reading the Bible daily while looking to see what your reading reveals about the basic Christian message. You should ask questions like, “What does this story show us about God? or How does this passage depict God’s Kingdom?

Second, you develop a list of key beliefs explaining what the Gospel is and how it should function in our daily lives. What really is this Good News that we are called to share with the world? I am starting with a simple computer document that says, “The Christian Gospel is….”

Third, refine your list and share some insights with others to see what they think. I intend to ask other believers, “If you had to explain the Christian message in 3-5 minutes, what would you say?”

Fourth, wrestle some more with the concepts that arise as you study, pray about the Christian message and discuss the Gospel with others. The last part of the challenge is to come up with a basic Gospel statement or creed and attempt to live according to these beliefs on daily basis.

So who is with me? What does the Gospel really mean to you? I welcome others to post on my blog their thoughts on what the Christian Gospel is and how it functions in the world.

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Amazed at Great Faith from the Most Unexpected Place – Praying the Emotions of Jesus Day 7

Luke 7:9  (NIV)

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”

Prayer

Jesus, You have seen it all. There are few things that truly amaze You. Yet, the thing that gets Your attention the most is a life of great faith – the stranger who has no reason to believe and yet does any way. From the most unexpected places comes a man who demonstrates faith beyond reason.

A solider who knows what it means to be in authority and under authority, he knows that You don’t have to be physically present for a miracle to occur. He knows that there is power in your mere words alone. For by Your words, You formed all of the things on the earth. While the religious leaders of Israel rejected Your power, this Roman centurion recognized Your authority and called on You to restore his greatest treasure – his only daughter.

Just like the Roman Centurion, may I live a life of great faith. While all others doubt, may I believe. May I speak words of faith in the face of death and great loss. No matter the circumstances, may I know that You have the power to redeem all things. Like the Centurion, I am a stranger in this world. This is not my homeland. And yet, my I have faith to believe in the impossible despite the wailing cries of others who see no hope. Amen!