The Gospel as a filter Part: 1
The intention for this entry is to take a simplified (but LONG 3 parts) look at the gospel and how it can be used as a filter to help you interpret the Bible in a more accurate way. The gospel I refer to is as defended in Galatians chapter 2 and 3 by the apostle Paul in an audience with the apostles and Peter in particular. In this critical defense of the Gospel there was a unanimous agreement that nothing could be added to the basic gospel to either gain favor with God or to enter into heaven. It is Jesus and Jesus alone adding His righteousness to us in salvation. The gospel is clearly a grace inspired finished work of the cross of Christ. The work of the gospel is finished and perfect therefore nothing can be added to it and nothing taken away from it.
Some may ask what do you mean Denny, what is the gospel? For years I was taught the gospel was getting saved from hell. This is very much part of the gospel but if you limited to that it becomes a leverage point for me to control God by using is very own promise against God. God forbid. The Gospel is truly submitting to God and letting Him lead your life. What! How do you mean this Denny? Well! If the Gospel is only a means to keep me out of hell and once I have it there is no further direction to be traveled AKA a dead end. There would be no more learning, or discipleship, or fellowship with God. You got your ticket to ride to heaven and you don’t care about anyone else! The Gospel’s focus is to heal what was broken and lost in the Garden of Eden in the fall of man.
In The fall of man what was really lost?
Well as I read Genesis 3, I find that God knew where He was. So God was not lost. God knew where Adam was. He called to Adam in the garden. Adam knew where Adam was so Adam was not lost. Yes, you are correct Eve is not lost either; she was in hiding with her husband for the first time ever. In the New Testament Christ is seeking to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10) So the only thing that I find lost, indicated by the Bible, really truly lost, was a relationship between God and man.
This event ushered in a brand-new era of man choosing to cut himself away from God with no known hope of ever reentering the graces of God and his love. We lost our freedom and right to approach God under any circumstance. In this condition we are very sorry individuals and hopeless, yes, true expressions of total depravity! This is the devastating result of what we lost in the garden among other collateral damage in the fall of man. Enter the first hints of the gospel in Genesis 3. Man was going to be able to stomp the head of the snake that betrayed us but it would also be excruciatingly painful to man when it happened. Part 2 continues this post.
The Gospel as a filter Part: 2
The simple gospel is this: Jesus after living a perfect sinless life became a sacrifice for atonement for the fall of man and every sin ever committed. This finished and single act is the only AKA narrow way, to restore the opportunity for anyone to have a relationship with God. (if the Gift is accepted)
The painful stomp on sin at a horrendous price of Christ, yet a victory for all and a God ordained singular way to restore relationship with God. Jesus is the narrow or only way to everyone that accepts this truth and humbles themselves to God on God’s terms. These humble people would be given eternal life, a place in heaven, (basic salvation) and a restored relationship with God the abundant life part of the Gospel.
To restore the relationship of people to God is the righteousness that Jesus fulfilled here on earth would be added to each and every one of the believers at God’s cost not our cost in any way.
The restored relationship with God is what makes the Christian life so abundant as you explore it and live it out. God is not a tame controllable God but, a wild adventurous, shocking, surprising, loving, kind and will never stop loving you kind of God. He calls everyone to himself, not just the ones with the Bibles or the ones the missionaries talk to but everyone who is ever been born. How have you answered this awesome God?
Have you ignored God’s call as Adam did the very first time he exercised his free will resulting in sin entering this world? It is your God-given choice! But remember things that are bound on earth will also be bound in heaven (Matt. 18:18). You truly do control your spiritual destiny by exercising your free will as good or not. By the way, no choice leaves you double minded and is a choice against God if you are not for God you are against God (James 1:6-8) this is God’s rule not mine, I to am subject to this rule. Nothing can be added to this perfect work on the cross or taken away. (No strings attached Just Gods work alone) The only condition is that you be humble to God and accept His Gift. See part 3 for the finish.
The Gospel as a filter Part: 3
Well Denny? How in the world could you call this Gospel a filter to help my understanding the Bible? I’m glad you asked that question. This is how I see the gospel as being a primary filter to understand the Bible.
If the Bible is understood in relationship through the Gospel filter, then anything that appears to add to or take away from the Gospel message ls being misunderstood. The Bible never adds something to the Gospel for it to be true. The Gospel is already true and does not need anything to help it. If anything is added to or taken away from the Gospel you no longer have a gospel. This is the root of most false religions and ideology’s out there today.
The Bible never puts conditions on restricting the gospel to a special group of people, ideology, location, or special words. God is calling you into relationship on his terms and unless you have asked God to stop calling you and rejected God he continues to call you even today or now. If you have rejected God you can ask God to resume his call to you and God will respond. If you do this please be ready and expect the unexpected, expect God will respond. It will be a shock to your system. God’s abundant life has never been limited by material wealth but I have found the Gospel extremely unlimited in spiritual wealth and extremely surprising. Walking through the valley of death with God is truly a humbling experience.
So as you read your Bible if it sounds like it is counters what the Gospel said either adding or taking away from the Gospel you do not understand the passage. Ask for God’s help and carefully reread. If the Bible ever sounds exclusive to one people group, class, or health status you do not understand the Scripture. If the Bible ever sounds like it excludes anyone in its invitation you truly do not understand the Scripture meaning it is conveying. If the Bible ever sounds like you have no choice or free will in the matter you do not understand the Scripture. (of course excluding acceptance of Jesus the narrow way) God will never override your free will choice.
You may say what about Paul. He was blinded he didn’t have a choice yet he did. In his blindness he saw the true light and chose to serve God. In our current state Jesus Christ’s perfect work on the cross is the only thing that has ever been made that will restore your opportunity for relationship to God and provide you a dwelling place for all eternity in heaven with God. Jesus paid it all and all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain but He washed it white as snow. God even left your free will intact after you are saved. You will be able to drift away from God and back to God in relationship and closeness after salvation. But never think for a moment that he will waste one minute of your life by abandoning you or rejecting you. He will redeem your lost times to prepare you for His purpose planned for you. But God will not be your personal bank allowing you to withdraw whatever you want to consume on yourself but, will provide everything you need to serve in His Kingdom and be conformed to Gods image.
God will always call you and seek you to continue in relationship with Him. This has been true in the Old Testament as a promise and in the New Testament as a reality fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Each and every day we must choose whether or not we serve God or ourselves, (yes! believers have to choose each day) we will serve someone or something. Our choice is who or what it will be and God will honor your choice and will not take your choice away. God will not take the consequences of your sowing good or bad away from you either. God will give you brothers and sisters to walk with you through your pain as He ordains and calls you ever closer to Him.
God’s principle is this: you reap what you sow. But God proved his grace in the Garden of Eden where man fell, by not ending man’s life instantly but planning to give his very own Son’s Life as the ultimate payment for our sin of separation from God. Jesus Christ the Lord’s work on the cross is the only hope we have of ever having a relationship with God and entry into heaven. (Nothing more nothing less, our true hope) And that’s the Gospel the long and the short of it. Not so short! Please read Romans 8:1 if you are in doubt!