There are two ways to approach your reading of the Bible: Good Advice vs. Good News
Is it basically about me and what I must do? An EXPLANATION of the Christian life and WHAT WE HAVE TO DO to live out kingdom principles and be good, moral and spiritual Christians. Good advice…
Or is it basically about Jesus and what he has done? A CELEBRATION of our Redeemer King Jesus and WHAT HE HAS DONE by his grace in sacrificially rescuing His people and restoring the Kingdom of God on earth again. Good news…
Unlike today the word “gospel” wasn’t a religious word without much cultural currency. The word means “good news” and was used to proclaim very important, life changing events, such as the birth or coronation of a new emperor, or the announcement that a major war had been won on behalf of the Roman Empire which would bring great benefits to its citizens.
In the final instalment of the Matrix trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions, we get a great visual of what the word “gospel” meant as it was used in the 1st century. We see how Neo’s sacrifice results in the defeat of the rogue virus, Smith. The war against Zion was over and a young man runs with the good news to proclaim it with great joy! The news is received with great joy as their slavery is over!
This Youtube clip captures this moving moment very well: “This is what gospel proclamation looks like”
As stirring as that scene is, it is but however a shadow of the cosmic good news of Jesus Christ’s victory over satan, sin and death through his sin substituting sacrifice and vindicating victorious resurrection! It is the universe altering good news of the Kingdom of God coming, the renewal of all creation by the re-entry of God’s ruling power through God’s king, Jesus. Hearts, relationships, communities, culture, cities and nations are healed and restored to their original created intention, to the degree that they come under the lordship of Jesus, through his Word and Spirit.
Gospel Christianity at its heart, just as the matrix video clip illustrates, is an announcement and celebration of life changing proportions!
If our Christian experience is not mostly centred around this world-changing announcement, this good news of Jesus Christ… Then at best, it will be “good advice about how to live a good life now” or at it’s worst, legalism to conform you to some external religious morality motivated by fear of condemnation.
So the gospel is the good news of what God has done to reach us. It is not good advice about what we must do to reach God.
The Bible when read only as principles for kingdom living or the standard of religious morals, is a crushing burden that I am unable to live up to in my own strength.
You will only set yourself up for disappointment if you don’t get this, continually trying live up to “kingdom principles” failing to see and depend upon the Person behind the principles.
Understanding this grace of what Jesus has done for us, is the primary motivator for all Christian growth. The Apostle Paul said it like this to the Colossian Church:
“This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.” (Colossians 1:6, NLT)
Unless I see Jesus ultimate generosity — giving everything up for me on the cross — I won’t have the internal security or incentive to be consistently generous with my life, my time, my money.
Unless I see Jesus forgiving me on the cross, I won’t really have what it takes to forgive others from the heart, for their good, God’s glory and my joy.
Our faith is not without action, but rather when the grace of Jesus melts our hearts, our hands are moved in compassionate service.
“The Bible recognizes no definition of grace that encourages moral license. Instead, feasting on grace fuels love for God that enables us to fulfill the commandment that is foundational to all others: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). When we love him rightly, we delight to walk with him in every dimension of our lives. Only the grace of God ultimately displayed in the provision of Christ for sinners can stimulate such loving obedience. ” (ESV Gospel Transformation Bible)
Where do you go to get the courage and power you need to be able to fight the giants in your life – like suffering, disappointment, failure, criticism, hardship?
(Look out for #4: Applying the gospel lens to the story of David and Goliath…)
- It’s all about Jesus: Learning to Read the Bible with Gospel-Centred Lenses #1
- It’s all about Jesus: Learning to Read the Bible with Gospel-Centred Lenses #2
- It’s all about Jesus: Learning to Read the Bible with Gospel-Centred Lenses #3
- It’s all about Jesus: Learning to Read the Bible with Gospel-Centred Lenses #4