Thursday, May 01, 2008

Christ Is The Gospel

OK so far in the year it’s not going quite as planned on the blogging front. I’m evidently spending time elsewhere doing other worthwhile stuff and the regularity I wanted to get in terms of entries hasn’t quite hit what I wanted it to. I’m not beating myself over it. I realise there’s a very pragmatic resolution to the issue which is to choose one of two paths. Path one is just to be more disciplined and clinical, brutal and ruthless in separating the time required to do more regular blog entries. The second option sees me relaxing under the current regime, appreciating the fact that the opportunity and time to be as regular in my blog entries just may not be possible at the moment and I should just blog when I can. At the moment it’s actually the former option that’s most appealing as the latter is only too much in my nature. I have a tendency of not being more diligent and pushing things through, so because I want to write more I’ve got to push myself. In all that though, I have no intention to live off guilt or poor quality just to fulfil this requirement.

Right. One writing commitment that I’ve been fairly consistent with over the last month or so is the Daily Thought initiative. If that were my blogging requirement I’d be fine as more often than not, although not at a time I’d prefer, most weekdays I am producing that 100 word limited piece for staff and friends. Without blowing my own trumpet, I am pleased at the regularity and challenges that I’ve been able to produce the Daily Thoughts – 21 entries in March and 22 in April is a fair return on the commitment and I trust by the grace of God I can keep that going. In terms of web access for that, the NSYMCA web-site is undergoing some adjustments at the moment which is why the latest entries have not been posted as yet, although that could possibly change by the end of the week depending on commitments.

In any case during the month of April I was going through a series on the good news and highlighting some of the different facets of the gospel that we see in scripture. I enjoy the structure of an overall theme for the month that guides the Daily Thoughts. I was thinking about reverting back to the random nature of them, but for the upcoming month at least I don’t think that will be the case. Anyway, back to good news. As the month of April came to an end I wanted to end the series looking at the Spirit, Father and Son in the light of what the good news is all about. In coming to the final entry of the month I was really drawn again to outline my understanding of what the gospel really is. This is in no way meant to be a definitive word on what the gospel is and what life so far as proved as well as the month’s series is that there are so many avenues into understanding what the gospel is that it’s best to be relatively flexible on the issue. Having made those concessions, however, there is also something fundamental about the nature of the gospel – it’s not just about advice or a way to live a moral life, it’s not just about any god or a little thought-provoker to reflect on life. The heart of the gospel to me is the person and work of God through His Son Jesus Christ. That’s why sometimes in this pluralistic age we live in we have to be real with the fact that we’re not compromising on the exclusive nature of the gospel – exclusive in the sense that the message is about Jesus Christ being the only way back to God for humanity to be reconciled as their sins alienate.

Without going any further and spoiling what I’ve put together, here’s what I’ve elaborated on in terms of what the gospel is all about.

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16, 17)

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:1, 2)

The good news is all the more glorious because it is based on bad news. The bad news was that we are by nature rebels against God. This is expressed in our consistent nature of missing God that is to say our thoughts, actions and words fall short of what our Creator designed us for. We keep missing God and not only so but we then set up for ourselves an alternative to God, namely ourselves and the idols we set up instead – whether that’s work, money, family, sex, hobbies or whatever. For all our best intentions and noble activities we fail to hit the standard of God and so we behave like fatherless children with apparently no restraint as seen in the atrocities of humanity over history and even our pet foibles.

It is in this scenario that God chooses to remedy the situation and reconcile us back to Him in the only way that would express His character of Holy Love. Love in the essence of being and doing that which gives maximum good in any situation, Holy in satisfying the qualities of justice, righteousness and perfection in all that He is and does. To satisfy this and the great chasm our rebellious nature created, God Himself took on all the punishment that we deserved. In so doing He created a way of escaping that punishment and turning rebels into the sons that He had created initially.

That is why it is only in the Son that we find hope of redemption and full life. For it is in the Son that we see how we were created to be, reflecting the image of the Father and Creator who made us in the first place. Now it is not anything that we can do to earn son-ship, there’s no great acts that can merit God’s favour, which is why good works and noble words fail to meet God’s requirement. What now meets His requirement is a Spirit-filled life that turns away from the rebellious lifestyle and towards one set to please our Father. Now, by faith in Jesus and the power of the Spirit that raised Him from death to life, we are children of God with the hope and assurance that one day we shall be reunited with our Brother, our Friend, our Lord and our Saviour and see Him as He is.

For His Name’s Sake
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