We are starting a new series entitled Course Corrections. In this first installment our guest speaker Bruxy Cavey lays the groundwork in examining how internalizing the gospel message actually affects our lives. In the past century the gospel has often times been minimized as a ticket out of here, instead of an example to be imitated of how we actually live in the here and now. As Bruxy said, “the gospel is not just a message that saves people, it is the message that saved people live by.”
The core message of the gospel and the call of entering the Kingdom of God is not an escape plan or exit strategy (although our following of Jesus does have obvious future consequences), but rather a new way to orient and live our life in the here and now. We are able to start living our eternal life now by taking the teaching of Jesus seriously as it applies to our present day lives. When the gospel message becomes integrated and a part of who I am, then evangelism, or the sharing of the good news, becomes as natural as all our other interactions.
We should always be prepared to give an account for why we choose to live the counter cultural lives the Kingdom leads us in to. This is the heart of evangelism. There have been multiple attempts of the last century to boil the gospel down in to a nice and neat package that helps with sharing it with others (Bill Bright’s 4 spiritual laws, bridge to life, Billy Grahm’s path to peace with God, the Roman Road, etc), but there has always been a portion of the story that has been neglected. Bruxy laid out the Gospel like this:
- Jesus is God with us (Imanuel) come to:
- Show us God’s love
- Save us from sin
- Set up God’s Kingdom
- Shut down religion
- So we can share in God’s love
It is important to know that God is with us not against us. This incarnational reference also applies to the actual meaning of whose side He’s on from prophet Isaiah. God is on our side and that is good news for us. If God isn’t for us and with us, then His coming close would be a very scary thing. It becomes not so much about self-actualization, but rather self-transcendence where we become part of something bigger than ourselves.
One key portion missing from earlier summaries of the Gospel is how it applies to the here and now. They were so focused on being saved when we die, that it left little time for how the gospel impacts our actual present life. When we say yes to Jesus’ invitation we actually start our eternal life of the age to come here and now. The best religion can promise is that, “yes, I know there is a problem that I don’t have a cure for, but if you follow the rules the damage can be minimized to yourself and others.” But there is never a talk of a cure. Instead of asking are we primarily good or bad as the question often gets minimized to, the better description is that we are basically broken. This calls out the good of the image we bear, but also recognizes there is a problem that we need saved from.
In the Old Testament when the Israelites were practicing religion under the old covenant to limit the damage caused by their lives, there was always a looking forward to and promise of a coming age when a new covenant would be established: one of a new heart, a new spirit, a new mind, and where the law would be written on their hearts (Ez 36:26). It is risky for God to give His people all this freedom from the law if there isn’t actually a changed heart to lead the way. When living out the gospel it is important to not only hear from the spirit inside of us (personal experience), but also reference that same Spirit at work in God’s word (scripture) as well as others around us following Jesus (community / tradition).
The letter of the law creates a loophole mentality. How can I beat it? How can I get around it? Saying “don’t do” creates a desire to want to want to do it. But by living out the gospel message here and now we start asking different questions that are rooted in love. The gospel brings freedom from the law so we can let love lead the way.
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