Denmark is a strange land for an Australian. When you first arrive you notice that everyone drives on the wrong side of the road. Then you go to the gas station and everything seems normal . . . until you pull the trigger and see that the litres move way too slow and the price moves way to fast. It is a land where they have a conference to save the planet from global warming while Denmark is having it's very own "ice age".
But what I find strangest of all is that Denmark is a land where you can go into a “church” and never hear the true pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. And that is what we need to discuss over the coming days. We are called to be a prophetic voice to this worlds biggest problem - and it's not global warming. The problem is the infinite gulf between God's Holiness and man's sinfulness, and God's solution is His Gospel and that is what must be shouted from the rooftops. But people now debate what the Gospel is and whether it can be properly understood. It's a good thing that this hinges, not on the immensity of our intellect, but on the kindness of a God Who stooped down to us in the person of Jesus Christ to speak His message of salvation crystal clear.
The Bible tells us that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. If our first priority is Jesus’ last command then it will be to preach this Gospel. And it must remain pure because the Apostle Paul said that if anyone preaches any other Gospel than the one he preached let him be damned to hell. We must get the Gospel right – if we get it wrong everything else is a waste of time. For this reason it is extremely important to clearly define the Gospel so that we can rightly know it and rightly articulate it – because this is the heart of the crisis.
This has been highlighted in the last week where there has been a large number of religious leaders sign on to a document called the “Manhattan Declaration”. I am not against this document but it does highlight the mass confusion concerning the Gospel at the highest level. The large number of Evangelical and Catholic leaders who all signed the agreement to oppose abortion and homosexual marriage also stated that “It is our duty to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in its fullness, both in season and out of season”. Though they all agreed on the importance to preach the Gospel, the document never states what the Gospel is. If they did, then Catholics and Evangelicals could not sign it together because they believe and preach different gospels. Remember that little thing called the reformation??
This same problem has entered the evangelical churches of today. Most will agree that the Gospel is the good news about Jesus Christ. That it is a message of God’s love, grace, forgiveness, and salvation. And this is where the problem lies because if we don’t define those words love, grace, forgiveness, and salvation then they are robbed of meaning.
If you want to talk about God’s love then you’d better talk about sin because God’s love was demonstrated while we were sinning (Romans 5:8).
If you want to talk about grace then you’d better talk about our evil sinful nature because grace means undeserved favour ie why don’t we deserve it?
If you want to talk about forgiveness then you’d better talk about all the bad things we do because that’s what we need to be forgiven of.
If you want to talk about salvation then you’d better talk about hell because that is what salvation is from.
Just like in the Manhattan declaration the word gospel gets thrown around a lot but is rarely explained and that is what I plan to do today and in my subsequent posts. I’m going to be presenting what I call the five pillars of the Gospel that will help us to examine ourselves and search our own hearts and also equip us to faithfully present this precious message to others.
Stay tuned - there's more to come!
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