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The Story of Salvation

• Greg Boyd

The first in our new sermon series about evangelism, Greg takes a look at the message itself. He looks at the most frequent (and often cringe-worthy) ways the “good news” is often presented, and then helps us see the really good news that we should be sharing.

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Just about everyone has some experience which “loads” the word “evangelism” for us — and for many of us it is a negative association, bringing to mind words like cheesy, obnoxious, awkward or even manipulative. Greg himself used to be the source of some of this obnoxious evangelism, which is why now he has swung the other way and almost never addresses this important topic. Today’s sermon marks the beginning of a reframe on this subject.

Why is it that we so often groan when we think of this topic? Unfortunately it’s because the news that is being shared is anything but good. We are warned about sin, damnation and hell and made to feel like we are bad people and doomed unless we let Jesus into our lives. This is the opposite of what the good news actually is!

First lets understand some basic definitions: “News” is some new information about something that happened, which modifies your expectations of the future (good news does so in a good way).

Take a look at what Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians took place on the cross and why it is good news. Now let’s unpack this.

What is the new information that Paul says took place?

1) Jesus died and in him, some (sinful, ugly, rebellious) part of all of us died.

2) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. By doing this, he disarmed Satan. (see Col 2:14-15)

3) By doing this, “God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sin against them.” He has erased our debt.

How does this information affect our expectations of the future?

1) “From now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view”. We are now free to look at the world and people in light of the reconciliation of the cross. These are New Terms.

2) “God has given to us the ministry of reconciliation” — This is the crux of our message: God is not counting your sins against you! You’re free! Now all you have to do is simply go to Him. This is great news!!

It’s fun to give good news, it’s as natural as giving driving directions to help another. This is how we should be thinking of evangelism. But it all starts with getting our message straight.

Who in your life could use this good news? Greg suggests we first pray about it, and then (if you haven’t already) start by building a relationship with that person so that sharing this news feels natural.

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Topics: Evangelism, Forgiveness, Salvation

Sermon Series: Everyday Influence

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Focus Scripture:

  • 2 Cor 5:13-21

    If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

    So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

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14 thoughts on “The Story of Salvation

  1. Peter says:

    “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
    and recovering of sight to the blind,
    to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

    And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of him and marvelled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth.”

    When we consider evangelism, we need go no further than the preceding verses where Jesus effectively discloses the gospel to Israel…and in turn the whole world.

    The power of the gospel/good news is to release all who are held captive either physically or spiritually in a world system.

    I visualise the whole world has been (and is being) planted with humanity and like the parable of the seed falling on different types of ground there are those individuals and communities that grow and flourish with the good news bearing the ‘fruit’ by living the life of the Kingdom; while there are those that shrivel and perish in the world system….like the tares/weeds or the branches of the vine that are barren and the fig tree that produces no fruit….they are removed and cast into the fire.

    The mantra like phrase, ‘The Gospel changes everything’, in one sense is almost a truism, remediating broken lives and setting captives free while, at the same time, sealing the fate of those who choose to ignore its message. Nonetheless it is a continuing action in the life of a believer whereby there is a crisis at the moment of conversion/belief and, day by day and moment by moment the Gospel impacts to develop in the believer a Kingdom lifestyle while, hopefully, influencing those around him or her. It is often the new believers, due to the recent radical change in their own lives, like Greg (the younger), that are the best (at times, embarrassing so), ambassadors of the Kingdom.

  2. Vince says:

    That was wonderful! We have been working on our personal testimonies in small group and this is exactly what we need! One question:

    What is 1 John 1:9 all about? Why must we confess or sins to be forgiven? Please explain this someone! I’m hoping there is a way to weave this into the good news Greg presented.

  3. Jacob says:

    Vince… i was waiting to see if anyone would respond to your last post,,, so I will try 😉

    Confession is not “so that” our sins will be forgiven because “that” is already accomplished and finished once and for all on the cross.

    It is “so that” you will be healed (james 5:16) from the scars and effects of a broken relationship With our heavenly Father.

    One of the strongest tenants of the spirit of religion is to bring condemnation upon others and ourselves. “The Battle is not against flesh and blood” (not even yours) We need to understand that sin is a Entity or Spirit that comes against us (read the story of Cain in Gen 4) It wants to control us by getting us to partner with it.

    Our confession breaks that connection in our lives. Confession is a restorative healing in our relationship with Father God. It is not “so that” you will be forgiven but “so that” you will be healed!!

    The spirit of sin’s mane purpose is to break your relationship with God and People and it uses shame and hiddenness to steal your ability to live out loud. We need to stop being offended by the sin of others and that starts with not being offended with ourselves and begin to live unhidden before God and Man/Women 😉

    We cannot bring healing into lives if we are offended by there lifestyles. Healing comes out of the ability to love those who oppose your view of right and wrong. Love does not hold a record of wrongs (see the love chapter)

    Actually if we are offended by them we would need to be offended by Jesus since he took their lifestyle choices upon himself. Ouch!

  4. Vince says:

    Thanks Jacob for answering me on that question. I think I may not have phrased it correctly so let me try again. I always thought first John 1 was about the path that we take to begin our relationship with God. I don’t think it’s necessary for a Jesus follower to dwell on their sin, but to become a Jesus follower does 1st John 1:9 mean that we need to acknowledge that our sin separated us from God, and ask Him to forgive us when we begin our relationship with Him? I understand your reference to James however I’D feel better about your point if you would use first John 1 or at least other parts of 1st John to make your point.

  5. Vince says:

    1 John 1:5-10 – 5) This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6) If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7) but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8) If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

  6. Vince says:

    I’m pretty sure this is the good news as presented by John. To omit this part of the good news would make the good news incomplete. As I think about it, it only makes sense. Acknowledging Jesus as Lord/Master/King over or lives marks the beginning of our covenant relationship with Jesus! Repent just means to admit that my view of God and how to accomplish right relationship with Him was all wrong. To acknowledge that God did it all on the cross is part of it, but to turn over the reigns of my life to Jesus is also a requirement to begin a relationship with Jesus, right?

  7. Vince says:

    So do those verses mean that we are initially forgiven after we confess? It can’t be that because the work of forgiveness has already been completed! Maybe it means that when we enter into a relationship with God through Christ we embrace and accept that forgiveness once and for all time! 1 John 2:12 has John acknowledging that our sins have been forgiven, so 1:9 can’t mean confession is a continuing prerequisite for forgiveness, right?

  8. Dave Pritchard says:


    I thought that this explanation below from the Website – “got questions.org” “might” be somewhat helpful. I agree with it for the most part, but there are some who do not see any distinction between ‘positional’ (aka: judicial) and ‘relational’ forgiveness. I think there potentially is in ‘experience’, but not necessarily in ‘substance’, but even saying that can lead to theological knots. Ultimately, it’s where ones heart is at in the matter, so in that sense, I would agree with what Jacob has said –

    “Confession is not “so that” our sins will be forgiven because “that” is already accomplished and finished once and for all on the cross. It is “so that” you will be healed (James 5:16) from the scars and effects of a broken relationship With our heavenly Father.”

    I think the matter can become increasingly convoluted though when there are too many “mediators” within the process – 1 Tim 2:5. Having one or two really close trustworthy spiritual brothers/sisters that we can go to can help when we are struggling with those ‘besetting sins’, but airing one’s ‘dirty laundry; so to speak in group fellowship can sometimes lead to ‘power plays’ and even derogatory suppositions by others – it shouldn’t, but sometimes we are all too human.

    Website Info –

    Question: “Why do we need to confess our sins if they have already been forgiven (1 John 1:9)?”

    Answer: The apostle Paul wrote, “To the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:6-8). This forgiveness is referring to salvation, in which God has taken our sins and removed them from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). This is the judicial forgiveness that God gives us upon receiving Jesus Christ as Savior. All our past, present, and future sins are forgiven on a judicial basis, meaning that we will not suffer eternal judgment for our sins. We still often suffer consequences of sin while we are here on earth, however, which brings us to the question at hand.

    The difference between Ephesians 1:6-8 and 1 John 1:9 is that John is dealing with what we call “relational,” or “familial,” forgiveness—like that of a father and a son. For example, if a son does something wrong to his father—falling short of his expectations or rules—the son has hindered his fellowship with his father. He remains the son of his father, but the relationship suffers. Their fellowship will be hindered until the son admits to his father that he has done wrong. It works the same way with God; our fellowship with Him is hindered until we confess our sin. When we confess our sin to God, the fellowship is restored. This is relational forgiveness.

    “Positional” forgiveness, or judicial forgiveness, is that which is obtained by every believer in Christ. In our position as members of the body of Christ, we have been forgiven of every sin we have ever committed or ever will commit. The price paid by Christ on the cross has satisfied God’s wrath against sin, and no further sacrifice or payment is necessary. When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it. Our positional forgiveness was obtained then and there.

    Confession of sin will help to keep us from the discipline of the Lord. If we fail to confess sin, the discipline of the Lord is sure to come until we do confess it. As stated previously, our sins are forgiven at salvation (positional forgiveness), but our daily fellowship with God needs to stay in good standing (relational forgiveness). Proper fellowship with God cannot happen with ‘unconfessed’ sin in our lives. Therefore, we need to confess our sins to God as soon as we are aware that we have sinned, in order to maintain close fellowship with God.”


  9. Tracy says:

    Hi there – I really enjoyed the message as usual, but found i was becoming increasingly frustrated in the fact that it portrayed no invitation to accept what Christ has done. Yes, totally agree sin is off the table so now, but what distinguishes a christian from one who is not – is accepting the invitation? I liked N T Wrights explanation of the gospel being both an announcement, AND an invitation. The invitation is the RESPONSE to the announcement. Greg I felt, only gave the announcement, which left me feeling a bit lost. Is Greg saying all are saved? I think the answer is no. Not all are saved because not all will accept the invitation. As to the question Vince asks…. It is my understanding that Paul is referring to a wide range of people, but maybe directing his message to the Gnostics, in this passage. So put in that context it’s easier to understand, given what they believed about sin,(They did not look upon the world as having been created perfectly and then having degenerated as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve. Rather the world was seen as being evil at the time of its origin, because it had been created by an inferior God.) So Paul was setting them straight on a few things. 🙂 Its important to understand who the speaker is directing his comments to, as Christians can interpret everything as being directed at them. The scriptures were written for us, not TO us. Hope this helps Vince.

  10. Michael says:

    Hi Everyone, Just wanted to add a thought to 1John 1:9: I’ve always considered that even though all my sins were forgiven by Jesus’s death on the Cross and my acceptance of His gift of salvation, nevertheless that did not remove my ability to make some poor choices at times and making mistakes, sins. I always considered the cleansing from all unrighteousness, in 1John 1:9 applied to how His ongoing forgiveness of my sins after salvation, really freed me from feelings of condemnation or guilty or just feeling bad for being such a jerk at times. When we really acknowledge a sin or mistake is when we can really use it to learn and grow and mature spiritually.

    Another thing is like what Jesus did at the last supper when He washed the disciples feet. He asked them if they understood what He was doing and trying to show them. Obviously, He intended for them to get the point that they were to be humble and to serve each other. But also, the need to wash up after a day of trodding dusty roads or streets cannot be missed.

    Confessing helps us to wash off the dirt and grime we get on us while living here in this Earth life.

  11. kevin says:

    got questions.org is run by calvinists ya know.

  12. Dave Pritchard says:


    Yes, it would seem so. Although I consider myself more of a middle of the road kinda of guy theologically, the ‘Calvinist’ construct is one of the many ways in which we can appreciate the dynamics of ‘confession and forgiveness’.

    But……..if you’re looking to grind the axe a bit, you might try this website – Ha!

    Calvinist Jokes – Baptist Board
    http://www.baptistboard.com › threads › calvin…

    “Calvies” – Well, we’re ‘predestined’ to luv”em!

  13. Kevin says:

    Dave; thanks for the site. I can’t completely run with baptist doctrine for the same reasons i can no longer learn from the ‘calvies’ but i do like the jokes on their site!
    How do you confuse a Calvinist? Take him to a buffet and tell him to get whatever he wants. lol that’s priceless 🙂

  14. Dave Pritchard says:



    A few years ago I flew back home to visit my folks who live in the state of Oregon. They’re in a very small town with one ‘Starbucks’ – (Maybe two?) I borrowed my nephews 10 speed and zipped down the road in the morning for a latte. When I got there the place was completely empty of other customers. Once I got my coffee, I sat down next to the window, popped open my iPad and started reading some Moltmann. A few minutes passed of blissful solitude, then… in comes this guy with a backpack full of Bibles, reference books and binder journals. He spread his stuff out on the table next to me (making sure I would notice) and gave me a “wink’ – ha!

    After he got his coffee, he jumped into his devotional study and started making copious notes with a big smile on his face – whistling at one point. Time passed as we sat there just the two of us – not a word between. I then decided to check my email as one does and much to my horror, I received a notification that our return flights back to the UK had been changed dramatically. This was going to cause a huge knock on effect with my work and my son’s school, so in a ‘calm panic’, I began emailing others frantically trying to sort this mess out. I stepped outside to make a few calls as well. With a little persistence and moaning (as well as some ‘speed-prayer’) I was thankfully able to rearrange things and avoid a catastrophe. I came back in, put on my backpack and was ready to ride and the guy who had been sitting there said to me with that huge grin (not even looking up from being engrossed in his studies) “So, is everything alright?” I paused and as I was walking out the door, turned and replied, “Yea, Everythings Good!!! – Praise God for Options!!!”

    Well, at that moment his face fell and that big smile of his instantaneously disintegrated into a massive open mouth angry frown with huge almost saucer-like trauma filled eyes – You’d of thought he’d seen a Ghost!!! He started to stutter and move his hands as his mind was confronted with this ontological schism – Ha! I wanted to chat but I just couldn’t, I had to go and get back to the house. As I got on my bike, I saw him through the window sitting there; he slammed his hands down on his books and stared shaking his head, giving me an ugly stare.

    Later, I thought about how weird that whole encounter was and why it was so. When our ‘contingency’ meets God’s ‘sovereignty’, peculiar things can happen; time can fold in on itself, take an entirely new tangent and or loop back to bring us into a deeper relationship with Him. We are not entirely spiritually cognoscente of what his plans involve as they commingle with the emergent property of our neural net. I truly believe that the paradox of Free-will vs. Determinism is resolved at ‘The Cross’ – where it is the intersection of all truth. The Calvinistic / Arminian (and the like) debate will potentially rage on until the end of time, but rather than becoming polemic about it, it’s been much more productive for me spiritually to simply remain in a “state of praise”, thanking Him for the ‘options’ that life has offered up, even ‘If’ I am unaware, that it is actually not the case.

    “Everywhere the human soul stands between a hemisphere of light and another of darkness; on the confines of the two everlasting empires, necessity and free will.”

    Thomas Carlyle

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