Sunday, April 02, 2006

The gospel of Jesus Christ

A simple definition of the gospel can be written around the following structure: God; humanity; God; what if I believe?; what if I do not?

God created all things. This includes the universe, our world, and all life on Earth. God is the ruler and king of all that he has made. Christianity teaches that everything that God created was originally good. In particular, God created men and women to live in the world, and to live in relationship with him as a friend even though he is God and king of the universe. Men and women are created in the image of God. They are special. Whoever you are you matter to God.

Humanity has chosen to break this relationship with our creator, our king, and our friend. Collectively and individually our natural condition tends away from living to please God and towards living to please ourselves. This natural tendency to ignore God or rebel against God is called sin. Whatever its origins sin is a problem for the world because it constitutes our break with God. Whether we like it or not we are struggling with the effects and the implications of sin.

God does not ignore our sinful rebellion against him. In fact, according to the Christian message, he has acted and is acting to restore the world from the consequences of its sin. God does this in all his actions. He has done it supremely through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus lived to fulfil the potential of humans in relation to God. He died to pay the penalty for the sin of the world. He rose to life as a demonstration that those who look to him and believe the gospel can find a new relationship with God. Jesus Christ is now God’s judge, and he is overseeing God’s restoration of all things. He will return when his work in this world is complete.

What if I believe this gospel? Those who believe that Jesus is Lord and judge of all receive the forgiveness of their sins. They enter into a new relationship with God, and they can look forward to life in God’s recreated world. This new relationship begins the moment we believe the gospel. Physical death no longer means the end of life, but the beginning of a new stage in this new relationship.

What if I do not? Christians do not really like to think about this question, but the gospel forces us to reckon with it. The broadest and easiest thing to write is this: those who do not believe the gospel of Jesus Christ remain separated from God in this life. They reject the new relationship that is offered. And the implication must be that they will remain separated from God in and beyond their physical death.

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

"Writing is a more public way of teaching, and men should not undertake it without a call." (Yes I've been reading Thomas Manton too!!)Think perhaps you have a call to this - very succinct summary of the Christian faith anyway...and some other very interesting stuff...