What is the Gospel? How do we present it to people? Answers must be thoughtful and precise. If they are not, then we risk presenting an errant view of our Father. And that could have drastically negative consequences that last an eternity. So how and why is the cover image inaccurate?
Gospel: Truth About Our Father
The longer my ministry and faith journey goes the more I see the necessity to correct error. And that statement has a companion. The longer my journey the more visible the errors have become. That’s why the message in the cover image caught my eye. We have to grow in our ability to see the lies of our enemy. Our introduction to him in Genesis 3:1 notes his ability and skill regarding subtlety:
Now the serpent was more subtle (crafty) than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
God’s instruction about the Tree of Life had been given to Adam. It was Adam who instructed Eve. So the enemy began with a question. It caused her to question what she had been been told. There’s much more to this, but it’s for another time. Subtlety is the point here.
Now the questions come. Is God the Father infinite and perfect in:
And the obvious answer to all of these, and others not listed, is – Yes, He is! So that leaves just one other question to be answered: What need does He have? Answer: He needs nothing! He has infinite wisdom so that He knows what is best. Furthermore, He has infinite power in order to do, perform, and/or execute what He knows is best. And since those two things are also integrated into His infinite, perfect holiness and love then nothing He does is ever less than loving and good.
Gospel: Connection to Help
So here is your ego-dashing, daily dose of truth: God does not need your help! He doesn’t need mine. My not-so-subtle proof statement is this: He spoke the universe into existence and we weren’t there! So the Gospel is NOT a help-needed sign. Yet many people present it that way. The featured image came from a church website. And that is a measure of proof about my statement. But it’s more widespread than one church.
People with good intentions present the claims of Christ and ask people to respond based on the mistaken idea that God somehow needs our help to get His work done in the world. And that very idea is a subtle way to undercut the majestic nature and Person of our Almighty Father. It doesn’t take much thought to respond with: An all-powerful God that needs my help isn’t much of a God at all. So what is the connection between the Gospel and help?
The Gospel is a lighted sign to a dark world and it says: Help Is Available!
Gospel: Giving Help
When a person truly understands Who God really is then a response to that knowledge is necessary. They may reject what they learn. But it’s one thing to reject an inaccurate view of Him and quite another to reject an accurate view. And how do people get either view? They are informed by they they see and hear from His disciples. That’s you and me. If the world is to have an accurate view of the Father and Gospel then we must give it to them. And that task can start with the many implications of the statement above: The Gospel says: Help Is Available.
One of the clearest descriptions of those who follow Christ is found in I Peter 2:9-10. There we read:
But you are a CHOSEN RACE, a royal PRIESTHOOD, a HOLY NATION, a PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you HAVE RECEIVED MERCY.
No one would dispute the privileges of royalty. One might disagree they should exist, but all recognize that privilege is extended to kings, queens, and their families. That idea extends to prime ministers, presidents, and other titles that denote a head of state. How much more should that idea apply to children of the King of Kings? That is what Peter tried to tell us. And if we can see it, then we can give people an accurate view of the Father, the Gospel, and the attractive nature of what it means to follow Christ. Let’s break it down…
You: The King’s Possession
That is the individual believer. The one who has passed from death into life. We are those who no longer walk in the darkness of sin and hopelessness. And notice that the text says: You ARE. What we are, and what we’re to do because of it, are settled facts in the mind of God. We are:
- Known to Him from before the foundation of the world
- A Priesthood
And the importance of that last one is greater than you might think at first. Peter was Jewish. He wrote to a largely Jewish audience. They all understood his words in light of the Old Testament. The term of service for a priest was 24/7 – 365. That’s our way to say: all the time. The priests didn’t go home to eat or sleep. They lived at the temple. That has huge implications for us.
As His priests we represent Him everywhere and anywhere we go (not just at church on Sunday if we go). People in the world get a lot of misinformation about the Father and the Gospel from us Monday through Saturday. Think about it. But there’s more…
The physical needs of the priests were met. There was nothing they lacked in their service. It’s the same for us (but better!). Jesus commissioned us and then gave us His provision: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Belonging to the King
The King extends His blessings to those who believe. The royal priesthood Peter spoke of was a new idea. The Old Testament priests represented one of three offices God ordained: Prophet, Priest, and King. No one was supposed to fill more than one role. That was reserved for Jesus Who is all three. But the New Testament work of the priesthood is done for the King. And our privileges are:
- Provision: lacking nothing (we are tempted to believe the opposite)
- To be a holy nation
- Holiness: set apart; separated unto God
- A special, unique people – the Church, gathered from every nation tribe and tongue
- God’s nation – enjoying His divine, eternal government, protection, & provision
- His Possession – God’s dwelling place is within us and in the praises of His people
Gospel: Get To
We will continue this in a follow-up post. But let me leave you with a challenge: Lose the term have to as it relates to your service of the King. Why would I say that? I often hear people talking about a ministry project, a church function, or even a Bible study. Without thinking they say, I have to go…. (fill in the blank). That is a subtle lie as well. You and I get to serve in God’s Kingdom.
As one who was under a death penalty that I deserved, I have been forgiven. And I am now free. God doesn’t need my help. But I have a need to help others find that same forgiveness that is mine. My Father is more than capable of writing His message of forgiveness in the stars or on flowers or both.
But He lets me engage in His work! I have purpose in life where I had none without Him. I get to serve the King. What do we communicate to those around us when we say I have to or I get to. Help is available and it comes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Soli Deo Gloria!