News and Views
THE SIMPLE GOSPEL
The basic Christian Gospel (Good News) is simple enough for anyone, even small children, to understand enough to accept Jesus and come into a growing relationship with God. It is that basic simple faith that I want to consider today.
Christianity starts with the Great, Real God, the eternal Spirit Being who created out of nothing everything that exists, who made the heavens and the earth and everything in them. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and present everywhere at once with and sustaining His creation but not as part of His creation. He is good and He is love and He is righteous and He is truth, so He is the source of all that is good, loving, right and true.
God created humans in His own image, as three part beings having body, soul and spirit imaging our Triune God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit. He created humans to love as His friends and companions. He created us with free will, imaging His free will, and apparently choosing in His own free will not to interfere with the exercise or consequences of our free will. Consequently, when humans chose to rebel against God and disobey the one rule He had put in place, humanity became alienated from God and subject to death. We see this alienation from God in our desire to do our own will instead of God's will, and in the many ways in which we have tried to rationalize and explain away God's direct and clear commands in His written Word, the Bible.
God, in His love and justice, came as God the Son to live the human life of Jesus as our example, and to die in our place on the cross so that, by accepting His gift of death in our place, we may be forgiven for our rebellion against God and restored to relationship with God in this life and through eternity. When we accept Jesus, God the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, filling what has been called the "God shaped vacuum" within us, giving us eternal life, and as much of Himself in power and guidance as we allow in our free will. Our right and loving response to His love and eternal life is to seek to know and do His will. Jesus lived the perfect human life by always keeping His will aligned with God the Father's will, and in the same way we seek to align our will with God's will in loving appreciation and obedience to Him. Accepting Jesus and His finished sacrifice on the cross in our place is the one way that God put in place as the only way to be reconciled to Him and the only way to go to heaven.
When we accept Jesus, we also become children of God, joint heirs with Jesus, part of the family of God, part of the Bride of Christ, part of the universal church made up of all believers.
When I look again at what I have written, I realize that it does not necessarily look that simple, that easy to understand. A big part of that difficulty in understanding arises because an accurate understanding of Christianity is so different from the distorted criticism of it in the secular world or even from the presentations by fringe elements that are over-represented in paid media broadcasts. Each paragraph can be expanded into books, and has been many times over.
Nevertheless, at the core there is simplicity:
We believe in a God so great that mere humans are unable to completely explain or understand Him.
We trust in His goodness, love, righteousness, justice, wisdom etc.
We believe that He came as Jesus to take the consequences of our rebellion in our place when He was on the cross so that we can be reconciled to Him and live forever with Him.
We recognize that we personally put self ahead of God and others, that we personally want to do our own will instead of His will, which is essentially what sin is.
We make a choice, repenting of that self-centeredness, and accepting Jesus' finished work on the cross as personal and the means to forgiveness and a personal relationship with God.
We seek to live in mutually loving relationship with Him, trusting that He knows and wants what is best for each one of us.
We find more and more moments of great joy and delight in our relationship with God.
There is a saying, "Christians are not perfect, just forgiven." Essentially, a Christian is someone who believes in God, Jesus and His accomplishment, the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and has turned from doing things according to self- wisdom and self-will to seeking to live in loving relationship with God according to His will. The living of it is a growth process that lasts a lifetime here and into eternity.
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