Time To Resurrect the Full Gospel
Hmm. What to write about. This opportunity does not arise very often, so the topics pile up like trucks on the turnpike on a snowy day. There is only time and room for one topic. Not only that; this piece lands in the midst of the most drastic cultural upheaval in the country’s history, and the unbending celebration of the most drastic upheaval in sacred history: the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the unique Son of God. So, which did I choose?
I chose neither. The cultural issues are important but temporary. The resurrection is unfathomably important but is part of a larger story and is eternal. It is a vital part of the gospel, without which it has no meaning.
The apostle Paul, by the Holy Spirit, describes the gospel as “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3b–4). The word “gospel” means “good message.” What is this good message, and why should we care?
As a prelude to the answer, we need to go deeper. There are many presentations, beliefs, and emphases that skim the surface of the gospel. In a biblical nutshell, Christ, the Messiah, will restore creation to its pristine Edenic condition. There are some common but misguided ideas about the purpose of the gospel that miss the point.
The gospel will change your life! True, but not the main point. “My life is good; my family’s great, I have a good job, I’m a nice person. I don’t need the gospel.”
It’s your ticket out of hell! “I don’t believe in hell. I’m not THAT bad. What about my nasty neighbor?”
Don’t you want to go to heaven? I’m a good, religious person. I’ll get in. But it sounds boring.”
God wants you healthy and wealthy. Tell that to the Bible saints who were not healed. Or the millions of suffering martyrs around the world. That is not the purpose of the gospel.
You don’t have the full gospel unless you speak in tongues. This is not the full gospel and is irrelevant.
The core of the full gospel—the piece that is usually left out of a gospel presentation—is that all humans are enemies of God and need to be reconciled. Paul’s great plea and singular timeless message was, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11), but He loves them supremely, giving His Son to bear their punishment (John 3:16). Yes, that is offensive—so offensive that Jesus Christ was crucified for proclaiming it, and multitudes of his follower have been, and are being, persecuted every day simply for believing and living it.
A brief scan of the headlines reveals the Christophobic crimes committed against believers. Nonetheless, the true gospel has to be proclaimed and believed; the good news is only good when the bad news is understood.
Jesus willingly bore God’s wrath on the cross to save those who willingly confess their sin and his forgiveness.
Regarding some of the above points, the gospel is like a spiritual piñata: once it’s open, the blessings and ramifications shower down: salvation from eternal punishment, assurance of God’s love, and the promise of justice, righteousness, safety, and joy in a restored heaven and Earth.
There is no gospel apart from Christ, no gospel without Christ, and no gospel outside of Christ. “The gospel is not about me. The gospel is about Jesus!” (R. C. Sproul).
Without the resurrection of Christ, there is no gospel. Without a gospel, there is no need for a resurrection; no Easter. Without the gospel, there is no hope for humanity, for the justice and peace we all long for. Of God it is said, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
Alan P. Allegra is a graduate of Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Lynda, live in Bethlehem, PA. Alan is editor of Lifestyles over 50 magazine. He is also an adult Bible teacher at First Baptist Church, Allentown, PA.