I love being a christian, i think it is a most glorious thing to have knowledge of Christ and to be in right relationship with Him. It has been of immense benefit to me inwardly and outwardly to know Christ. Yet I know that without me the gospel would still exist. So there is objective fact and truth to the gospel that must be known, understood and communicated as such. I love the personal application of the gospel, what Jesus has done for me, and that was what was missing in the way in which many fundamentalist groups presented Christ. He was remote, distant truth and personal application was missing.
But i fear the pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction. Our presentation of the gospel might now be faulted for being too experiential and not sufficiently expositional of objective truth. And true, it may be that you had trouble sleeping before Jesus touched you and now you sleep like a baby but that does not make Christ a sleeping pill and your presentation of the gospel cannot be limited to ‘come to Jesus, He will make you sleep’. If someone had told me that i would have responded, no thank you, valium will do quite well.
It behooves every believer to understand who Christ is, what his purpose was and is, what He accomplished with His life, death and resurrection, what happens to a person who commits their life to Him and what kind of life are they to live subsequently. This is the heart of the human drama. A biblical knowledge and experience of these facts equals life in all its fullness. Many profess to know Christ and cannot explain the gospel. My question is, what is it that they have believed?
I sat on a flight once with a highly educated person who professed belief in God and explained the facts of the gospel to them. They thanked me and said how glad they were to have someone explain these things to them. They had grown up going to catechism but had never heard a clear presentation of the gospel. I marvelled that in the 21st century, so many otherwise well meaning people are still ignorant of what christianity truly says; when you strip away the rituals and the saints, and the paraphernalia, and we all have our paraphernalia, evangelicals and catholics alike, what is at the heart of this whole thing?
I have resolved that every year, i shall endeavour to preach a series on ‘What is the gospel?’. The gospel – good news- set the early church on fire, men and women were supremely conscious and appreciative of this amazing gift they had received and gave their lives to share it with others. It was living, vita, objective and experiential truth to them. May it be so to us.