IS YOUR GOSPEL BIG ENOUGH?
It’s easy for us to make the gospel too small, to think about the gospel only in terms of making sure I am right with Jesus, and nothing beyond that. Of course, the gospel certainly begins there. God created each one of us as individuals, personally and purposely, to know him and make him known. Each one of us has turned from God in our own individual ways. Each one of us is born with a bent against God instead of for him. The Bible calls this being “dead in our sins” even though we’re physically alive. As soon as we are able to make choices we each choose to not live for God as we should. We don’t normally do this with our fists in the air, screaming obscenities at God and explicitly rejecting him; often we do this without thinking about him at all. But each one of us does it; we all separate ourselves from God, and in so doing we experience the consequences of life apart from God. This ranges from an inability to find lasting contentment or peace all the way to death and an eternity apart from God.
So the gospel is the good news that God has come to us in Jesus Christ to rescue us from all of that. God the Father sent God the Son to live a perfect life, die on the cross in our place, and rise from the dead so that we can be forgiven, transformed, and saved. Just as we have all turned away from God, so we must all choose to turn toward God. Every one of us must live out the gospel for ourselves. No one can do that for us, and every one of us will one day give an account before God for how we lived our lives for him in Christ, accepting the gift of his salvation, or for how we didn’t.
But the gospel is not just about our own individual relationships with God, it’s bigger than that. Jesus didn’t just die for us as individuals, he died for us as his church, and his churches (as each gospel-believing and preaching church is the complete body of Christ in and of itself). God saves us personally and individually, but he also saves us to be a part of one of his churches. A body of believers in Jesus Christ who purposely commit themselves to God and one another to come together to worship him, grow in him, serve and minister to each other, and be a witness to the world of who he is.
But even here we have to be careful, because if we only think of the gospel in terms of ourselves or even our church, we are still making it too small and are missing the big picture of what God is doing in this world through Jesus Christ. God saves us and brings us into a church to point beyond ourselves, to be the coming attraction of the kingdom of God. Our mission, given to us by God, is to believe and live out the gospel, to have a strong gospel doctrine and grasp of gospel truth that is lived out in a robust gospel culture and practice. God calls us to become more and more like Jesus Christ as individuals and as a community. In loving him, each other, and all others, people will get a glimpse of heaven on earth through us, and put their faith in Jesus Christ.
The gospel is as big as the universe. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1), and in the end we will dwell in the “new heaven and new earth” (Rev 21:1). God is at work bringing his redemption to the entire universe, reconciling all things through the blood of his cross (Col 1:20), and as his people, his church, we are at the center of that glorious plan. The gospel is for everything. We must catch the vision of all that God is doing and will do for the entire universe through his gospel, and work to keep our conception of the gospel from being too small.