Monday, April 2, 2012

A Judgementless Gospel-B. Bales

The Gospel in Your Hands presentation seeks to use one’s hands as in means to share and demonstrate the gospel of Christ.  He begins by saying that his right hand is God, and that his left hand is us as we are created in his image, a reflection.  We share certain characteristics with God, and we were once in a perfect relationship with Him.  Our failure is breaking the relationship by breaking God’s trust and thinking that we can exist on our own without God.  As a result, mankind died spiritually and physically, and this death brought fear and suffering into our lives.  If we could restore our relationship, we would have life, but since we cannot restore the relationship, God must do it for us through Christ.  Christ experienced our suffering and sin on the cross as a result of our sin and us causing the broken relationship.  By dying on the cross, Christ bore our sins and suffering unto their respective deaths.  If we trust Christ, He will bring us back into a relationship with the Father just as He Himself rose from the grave to be reunited with God. 
The Gospel in Your Hands presentation lacks several important facets of the gospel of Christ which cannot be removed or diminished.  The most glaring failure of this particular gospel presentation is its complete lack of God’s judgment and righteous wrath.  No mention of hell or heaven is made in a direct statement, and man’s sin becomes boiled down to a broken relationship, or a broken trust.  In a sense, the gospel story presented revolves around God’s goodness in allowing us to come back into a relationship with him, and it leaves out how our sin ought to have brought the wrath of God upon us and sent us to eternal damnation in hell.  The presentation can lead the listener to believe that he or she is just wrong because of how they feel or currently live in alienation to God, and they might never understand how the wages of our sin is eternal death in hell and being labeled as God’s enemy.  A listener may never grasp the true significance sin as the reason God must judge.
If the gospel story contains a failure in demonstrating the wrath of God, then it follows that the announcement of the gospel, the actual good news, will be skewed.  In the presentation, Christ’s death on the cross is rightly designated as paying for our sin and shame, but because our failure is a broken relationship, Christ’s death only acts as a bridge to God when it ought to include how Christ’s death has averted the wrath of God from falling on our shoulders.  A saved person becomes someone who feels restored and purpose filled rather than someone who has restoration and purpose because they have escaped damnation and been given new life.
Also, the gospel community which would form around the gospel of this presentation would have not have an understanding of how they are continually restored into the graces of God, and a listener would not understand even that a community of believers ought to form or what they ought to do after being saved.  It could be understood from this gospel presentation that we ought to live lives which are in unity with God, but our only explanation of how this takes places is tied up in how Christ brings us back.  No mention of the Holy Spirit is given, and as such, a listener will have no understanding of how they can be regenerated into new life.  Also, without the spirit of God living inside of us, we will have no means of sanctification, and the gospel community would bear no distinctions from the world.  The gospel community must have an urgency to evangelize, but if this urgency revolves around restoring people into a relationship with God, it loses its strength as it doesn’t acknowledge that those who are lost are enemies of God and doomed to die.  The presenter does acknowledge that we will die without Christ, but if us being “with Christ” does not entail His Spirit dwelling in us, His love being shown in the church community, and our ever perseverant efforts in Christlikeness, then we will not understand what being “without Christ” would entail.  We would be dead without Christ’s life in us, a community which loves us, and a life which meets God’s standards of justification and faith.  If the presenter would have spent more time on the story of the gospel and included things such as hell, God’s wrath, God’s law, and the Holy Spirit, then the announcement of the good news would become more evident, and the community which should follow would be better understood.  The use of the hands in the presentation should be used more as an attention getter and less as an analogy; perhaps then, the presentation of the gospel will reach its fulfillment.

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