Presenting the Gospel evangelically

Unfortunately, the Gospel is often presented as though God keeps himself separate from us, waiting for our expressions of faith and repentance before he will move to forgive, accept and thus make us his children.

However, the stunning truth of the Gospel is that God, through Jesus' continuing vicarious humanity, already has reconciled himself to all humanity. Because of who Jesus is and what he has done (and does), God accepts, loves and forgives everyone. Therefore the Gospel is the truly good news of an accomplished fact.

This being so, Trinitarian, Christ-centered presentations of the Gospel urge people to believe and then live into what is already true, rather than offering them a transaction by which God will act to forgive them if, first, they offer God their faith and repentance.

In The Mediation of Christ, Thomas F. Torrance notes that the Gospel, when preached and taught in this truly evangelical way, will be presented something like this:
God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged his very Being as God for your salvation….Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior….renounce yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus as your Lord and Savior (p. 94).


Anonymous said…
Hi there!

I light of what you write here, I want to share a quote from a truly insightful theologian. The quote is from Douglas A. Campbell in his book, THE QUEST FOR PAUL'S GOSPEL, on p. 103, and is as follows:

"I am especially confident of this realized eschatological aspect to Paul's argument in view of the particular contingency of the situation that we noted at the outset of our discussion. Only such a realized view can impact negatively on Jewish law-observance, Paul's principal goal in composing Galatians. Any mitigation of the force of the supersession experienced by Christians, and any corresponding muting of the presence of the new creation in the lives of those 'in Christ', must open the door for a certain validity to be attached to ethnic behavior in the old age, in this case, observance of the dictates of Moses as Judaism suggests. If the old age is still even partly in force, with the Christian living in it, then there is still something to be said for transferring from a pagan to a Jewish category within that dimension. But I cannot see Paul granting such concessions here. His intention and argument are both clearly directed towards a complete and irrevocable transcendence of such concerns."

I share this quote because in actual practice, Christianity often adds strings (mutes the presence of the new creation in the lives of those 'in Christ' and pulls in the dictates of Moses--especially the "good sounding parts") to the salvation process and to what the gospel actually says. In this process, certain words are manipulated, including the words of Paul, to make it seem that God may just be fickle after all and that He might just be into consigning certain people to hell forever because of who and what they are and because of what they have done. But as you point out, this is not what God is actually doing. It is as Paul says:

Galatians 3:6-9
6 Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
7 Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.
8 The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”
9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (NIV)

All the best!

J. Richard Parker