A Part Gospel is still a Compromised Gospel…
The story of the blind men and an elephant implies that one’s subjective experience can be true, but that such experience is inherently limited by its failure to account for a totality of truth. Over the past few weeks, I have been reading the Bible and reflecting on what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about. There are so many different versions of the gospel out there but I want to focus on the two extremes – the “Sin Management Gospel” and the “Hyper-grace Gospel”. I think both have a degree of truth but that does not make it the full gospel.
The “Sin Management Gospel” focuses on guilt where a person is shown how they have broken the law and is heading to hell unless they repent of their sins and accept Jesus as their Saviour and Lord thus earning their place in Heaven. This part is true. However this is not the full Gospel. Using the Law to show people that they are sinners is a compromised Gospel, in my opinion. The bumper sticker on the cars of people who have received the sin management gospel would say “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” But there is no attempt to submit fully to Christ’s Lordship or His mission in the world. There are many people who have received the “sin management gospel” and are doing a lot of religious stuff but when they stand before Jesus, He will send them away as evil doers (Matthew 7: 21-23). Why? It’s because they develop a religious legalism that is filled with outward religiosity but lacks authentic and genuine submission to the Lordship of Christ in their life.
The “hyper grace gospel” is the other extreme where God is all love and full of grace so nothing you do will negatively affect your relationship with Him. This is true because nothing will ever stop God from loving us. However this is also not the full gospel. Using grace to show that sin does not matter is again a compromised Gospel. The bumper sticker on the cars of people who have received the hyper grace gospel would say “God no longer see my sin because I am perfect in Christ.” There is no attempt to deal with their self-seeking ways. People who have received the “hyper grace gospel” focus on living a Christian life without dealing with their sin or they seek God for material blessings because God wants them to be prosperous. However the Bible clearly says that sinners will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9) and their names will not be written in the Book of Life so their end is hell (Revelation 20: 11-15).
So what then is the full Gospel? When John The Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was the one who was to come, Jesus replied “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Matthew 11: 4-5). The Gospel of the Kingdom is about God’s promises that He made in the Old Testament about His reign is now realised in Jesus. It’s about experiencing Kingdom righteousness, peace and Joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14: 17).
The invitation of the gospel is to come and taste and see that God is good. When Jesus sent His disciples out in Luke 10, He made it clear to His disciples to do what He did, eat and drink with the people around them and when they see a need, minister to that need so that God’s Kingdom grace breaks through.
As God’s Kingdom grace is experienced. people are left with a choice. Do they repent (change the way they think and act), change their allegiance from other gods or the world and submit to the Lordship of Christ, and be filled with His Spirit to empower us to live the Kingdom life. In submitting to the Lordship of Christ, we need to make the decision to turn from our wicked ways to live for Christ.
The Gospel of the Kingdom is a gospel of extravagant grace that demands a response – a submission to the Lordship of Christ. In other words as Paul says, we don’t keep on sinning to experience more grace. We must turn from our wicked ways.
Our understanding of the Gospel will cause us to act in different ways. A “Sin Management Gospel” will cause us to keep seeing sin everywhere and would cause us to become judgmental. A “hyper grace gospel” will cause us to ignore the sin in people’s lives because God’s grace will cover all sin. I want to suggest that when we focus on the Gospel of The Kingdom, we will be more grace-extending and less judgmental as we bring God’s Kingdom blessings where ever we go. As people experience His grace, we can challenge them that Jesus is Lord and that by submitting to His Lordship, you enter fully into the full blessings of His Kingdom.