The Gospel is a declaration. It is not an invitation. It is Good News about what Jesus has accomplished. It is not a call to action for the hearer.
What does this mean?
Often in the Church, we speak about sharing the Gospel as if we are talking about asking people to cross some line of decision with us. We want them to pray to begin a relationship with the Lord. We want them to adopt some basic Christian beliefs. We want them to dedicate their lives to following Jesus, to advancing His Kingdom.
These can be noble goals. We need to know that the Gospel itself, however, is explicitly indicative. It is the announcement that God has come to us in the Person of Jesus Christ, and that in His death and resurrection He has reconciled the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:14-21). He is not counting our sins against us. We all have a place of belonging in His open arms.
Further, the Gospel is the message that Jesus has overcome sin and death, and has ascended to take the highest seat of authority in the cosmos. He is Lord of all (Eph. 1:19-23). Every other principality and power is now subject to Him. Any contest to His Lordship has ultimately already been put to shame in His Finished Work.
Our faith, our trust, our obedient worship is all a response to the Gospel — a reciprocation to God’s drastic initiative to move toward us and win our hearts. It is true that without this recipient response of ours we will lack in the enjoyment of the Gospel’s benefits, both in this life and in the Resurrection. We do not want to be found guilty of clinging to our self-righteousness when faced with the question Paul asks in Romans 2:4, “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” Nevertheless, the Gospel in its nature is still not a conditional message. Jesus Himself carried out all that was necessary to bring us into union with God and to win His own Throne. We can’t underscore that enough.
Jesus Himself carried out all that was necessary to bring us into union with God and to win His own Throne. We can’t underscore that enough.
Knowing that this message is all about something that is done once and for all, irregardless of our opinions about it, is actually what moves us to humble ourselves and “take and eat” of Christ with gratitude. This pronouncement indicates to us an unmoved, resolved, overcoming Love, and when we grasp that the EFFECT of the message is that we are drawn to repent, surrender, and adore the good God who has saved us.
Everything we do to “cooperate” with God’s grace is merely a passive yielding. We add nothing to His accomplishment. We are recipients of the Spirit, sinking into the endless ocean of provision Christ has delivered us into. We do not contribute anything as “partners” in the sense of helping Him execute His saving work. His victory is already won. All the pressure is off our shoulders. He bore it, to its full end.
Keep this in mind when you evangelize. We are not asking something from those we seek to disciple. We are TELLING them something they might not yet know. Something that is purely good, entirely for their benefit. Something that when preached clearly moves the human heart deeply.
God has made up His mind to embrace us, despite our rejection of Him.
Our sins have been forgiven. All of them.
And the humble, selfless Servant of All is our God and King… now and forever.
That’s the kind of News that will produce life and transformation in the hearer.