Wednesday, January 6, 2010

God So Loved the World: Introducing the Gospel

Nicodemus, one of the Pharisees, secretly met with Jesus one night to ask Him some questions. Toward the end of the conversation, Jesus spoke what are perhaps some of the most well-known words among Christians:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)

For many, Jesus' words are an excellent summary of the gospel. Yet, if you ask 10 different professing Christians what the gospel is, you may very likely get 10 different answers. Many Christians are capable of reciting this and many other verses pertaining to the gospel, but don't have a fully developed understanding of what they mean.

ANSWER ME THESE QUESTIONS THREEMANY

Jesus said He was sent so that the world "might be saved," but just what is it the world needs saving from?Why is it that the world needs saving in the first place? Why does one "perish" if one does not believe? What does it mean to "perish?" What is the world saved unto? What is "eternal life?" Why did Jesus need to die for the world to be saved?

The question, "What is the gospel?" seems very simple, and in certain ways it is. But as we can see, there is much more to it than, "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." As Christians, we ought to be able to answer these questions. If we cannot, can we really be certain we have eternal life at all? When we in prayer express our thanks to God, just how meaningful are those prayers if we don't really know what it is we're thanking Him for?

WHAT WOULD THIS IDLE BABBLER WISH TO SAY?

And if we don't know how to answer these questions, how can we hope to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19)? Jesus' words to Nicodemus might hold some meaning to those familiar with the tenets of the faith. But the West has become decreasingly Christian, increasingly secular. A growing number of people aren't familiar with the tenets of biblical Christianity. If a Christian simply parrots Jesus' words to Nicodemus to them, they're likely to respond like they did to Paul at Mars Hill: "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" (Acts 17:18)

In this series, we'll try and develop a full, biblical understanding of the gospel. We'll look at what the Bible has to say in answering the questions above, as well as what it doesn't say, refuting common, incorrect interpretations thereof. As a result, our love for God will be richer, our prayer life more powerful, our thankfulness more meaningful. And when we witness to unbelievers in an attempt to "make disciples of all nations," we can do so with confidence, capable of answering their questions coherently.

4 comments:

  1. Interesting posts you have, though I think Christianity is dead and will be redeemed and brought to fruition and perfection through Thelema. Check out my blog at http://christianityisdead.wordpress.com/ if you will. Love is the law, love under will. ;)

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  2. Christianity is not dead.

    I've never heard of Thelema, and after a brief visit of your site I still haven't heard of Thelema.

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  3. Thelema is a cult philosophy created by the occultist, Aleister Crowley. You can read more here. Like Joseph Smith's angel Moroni, Aleister Crowley claims to have been visited by a being Aiwass, and similar to Smith's golden plates, Crowley claimed his The Book of the Law is a dictation of Aiwass' words. On and on it goes. He was also an avid drug abuser, having "maintained a meticulous record of his drug-induced experiences with laudanum, opium, cocaine, hashish, marijuana, alcohol, ether, mescaline, morphine, and heroin." So you know it's true.

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  4. In all seriousness, a philosophy does not, of course, rise or fall on the behavior of its founder. Thelema, like all philosophies including Christianity, must be tested by its merits. However, I believe the evidence in favor of the truth of the historic Christian faith is insurmountable, whereas Thelema has no evidence in support of it. As such, like a jury deciding a case, I'm inclined to follow Christ, rather than Aleister Crowley.

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