Paul's Passing Thoughts

What is the Gospel?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on April 27, 2015

Is the gospel a declaration about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ? Are people saved because they believe those facts?

Granted, they have to believe those facts to be saved, but they must not only believe that Christ died for our sins and was resurrected three days later, they must also believe something else about those facts:

Salvation is a choice to follow Christ in that same death, burial, and resurrection. He accomplished such so that we can follow Him in it.

Salvation is an intellectual ascent AND a choice. The choice is also referred to as “repentance.” You are not only turning from an indifference to God’s truth, you are turning from who you are to whatever God wants to make you.

This is called the new birth, or the baptism of the Holy Spirit. You can do absolutely nothing to effect this new birth, you can only ask for it. It is the desire to turn from who you are to whatever God makes you. If you understand that, and want that, God has promised it to you if you ask for it.

Being saved encompasses the belief that you have passed from death to life. The Bible then commands us to proceed with life based on certain assumptions. First, we must know that we cannot be condemned for any sin. Secondly, we make it our goal to please God by putting off the former ways and learning the new ways of the Spirit. Spiritual growth is a true colaboring between ourselves and the Spirit. Our focus is putting off the old ways and putting on the new ways of the Spirit. This is the laser focus of discipleship.

A contrary focus on our supposed continued need for the same gospel that saved us, and a focus on how “sinful” we are is a denial that we have passed from death to life. Instead of our goal being love, our goal becomes a deeper and deeper appreciation of why Christ had to die for us. This is functioning on a completely different assumption:

It denies that we have passed from death to life, and makes our greatest sin that of not understanding how sinful we are resulting in a supposed lack of gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice. It assumes that the old us is still alive, and able to supply ample fodder for showing us why Christ had to die for us. Instead of the Bible showing us the new way of the Spirit, it supposedly shows us the old way of sin leading to a greater appreciation of the cross.

This is the theme we hear constantly in the institutional church, on Christian radio, and in contemporary praise music. And unfortunately, it tells us what we really believe about the gospel.

The new birth is redefined as a mere ability to see how sinful we are, and not an ability to be a transformed person—a true kingdom citizen—a true child of God. Transformation is redefined as an increased ability to see how sinful we are and plunge the depths of our total depravity. The idea that we can actually change and better learn Christ is declared to be arrogant, prideful, and… “having a righteousness of your own.”

This is a slick, deliberate play on words that subtly denies the new birth. It takes the reality that righteousness did not originate with us, and makes it tantamount to having NO righteousness that is a part of our true being. We remain unchanged except for an ability to SEE only, and the righteousness of God that comes part and parcel with being born of Him remains apart from us. We are merely vessels that “reflect” God’s righteousness, but it remains separate from our new identity.

In other words, we really don’t perform any love that pleases God, our only goal is to plunge the depths of our own sinfulness that results in God “reflecting” His love on us and others. This coincides with rhetoric we hear in the church constantly such as, “It wasn’t I who did it—it was the Spirit working through me.”

Passages like Galatians 2:20 are then twisted to make the case.

Consequently, instead of a proper dichotomy being drawn between  GIFT and REWARD, salvation ends up as our reward for living a life of faith alone in… “what Jesus HAS done, not anything I do.”

Again, this not only denies the new birth, but makes “Christians” unwitting participants in a damning endeavor to keep ourselves saved by faith alone which is defined as a mere ability to see our need for a savior more and more. “Jumping directly from the commandment to obedience” is supposedly works salvation.

Jesus said, “You must be born again,” and this is exactly why He said it. Water baptism has nothing to do with a church membership found nowhere in the Bible, and it is not only about what Jesus did, it is a testimony that you have followed Christ in a literal death and resurrection.

Salvation is the abandonment of who you are, and trusting what God will do by recreating you into His own child. It is a matter of trust, because…

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.