Thought of the day:
The Gospel is NOT that you are forgiven.
Read that again: The Gospel, the Good News, is not that you are forgiven or justified.
(Hear me out before you get your tar and feathers.)
The forgiveness that we have in Christ is at the heart and center of the Gospel, but the Gospel is not *merely* that you are forgiven. Forgiveness is not the end of the story. Forgiveness is not the sum of your hope.
What is your hope? What are you looking forward to?
When you finally die and then see your Creator face to face on judgment day, and because you are joined to Jesus Christ He looks you in the eye and slowly and firmly says, “I forgive you,” what then?
Then you get to go HOME!
Because you are joined to Christ and adopted as an heir of the kingdom, you have an INHERITANCE.
In the parable of the prodigal son, when the father ran to the son and received him back and forgave him, he didn’t leave him standing in the road. He put a new robe on his shoulders, new sandals on his feet, the ring of family authority on his finger, and then led him HOME where a feast was prepared.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.’” (Revelation 21:3-8)
This life here is pain. You are not supposed to like it here. You are not supposed to have your hope placed here. (Anyone who says differently is selling something.) For those who do not have Christ, there is no hope and no good news. If they refuse Christ, all we can do is try to help make them comfortable here while they are perishing.
But for us who are united with Christ by baptism into His death and resurrection, to live is Christ and to die is gain!
Forgiveness is not the gain. Our inheritance and home and LIFE is the gain. Forgiveness is what allows us to be united with God in life.
For now, we are workers in the field. We are servants doing our duty, growing the kingdom in love for God and for those who don’t need to perish. And we are soldiers in bootcamp. We are being trained up as sons to be ready to receive our inheritance.
It’s not supposed to be pleasant. We’re not supposed to like it here. It’s work. We constantly pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!” We don’t seek God so that life can be better here. We seek a better kingdom.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Blessed are those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for they shall be comforted, they shall inherit the earth, they shall be satisfied, they shall receive mercy, they shall see God, and they shall be called sons of God, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
THAT is the Gospel. That is good news.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?… But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
(See Matthew chapters 5-7)
“For in this way God loved the world, so that he gave his one and only Son, in order that everyone who believes in him will not perish, but will have eternal LIFE.” (John 3:16)
Faith, Hope, and Love abide, these three. The greatest of these is Love. We are saved by grace through Faith. But let us not forget to talk about the HOPE that is in us, which we have because our Faith has believed the Good News, bearing the fruit of Love.
For “we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this HOPE we were saved.” (Romans 8:23-24)
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the HOPE that is in you…” (1 Peter 3:14-15)
It is this hope that is supposed to make people ask questions. If the Christians around you haven’t been living and speaking in a way that demonstrates this hope, that’s a serious problem.
If you have not been hearing this hope, you’ve been missing out on the good news.