I am filling out an application to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. One of the questions on the application was, “Please explain your understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ”. I found it deeply refreshing to rinse my mind once again in that which is the heart of all that I believe and think.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the story of all stories. It is the climax and epicenter of the whole biblical narrative, and thus the narrative of the universe. The gospel is good news. It sets the prisoners free, opens the eyes of the blind and gives life to the dead. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the story of our deliverance out of the curse of sin and death. But more importantly, it is the story of the impossible revelation of our wise, sovereign, just, gracious and glorious God.
The overall biblical narrative sets the stage for the necessity of the gospel and centrality of the gospel. The prologue is that we live in a beautifully and powerfully created world. It declares the glory of the Creator. It all lines up under his mighty headship. This is the world into which humanity is placed by that very Creator and for that very purpose: to glorify God and enjoy him forever, channeling the his glory and headship into the world.
Despite the beauty of the gift of life we were given we were tempted and lusted for more. We wanted to try living in his world without his headship. The lie was first believed by our parents, Adam and Eve, in the garden. This first act of rebellion against the holy God resulted in their fall into death and alienation from his presence. Every person follows in the lineage of Adam and Even both in spiritual genetics and example; we are born sinners and we choose to run from God everyday because we too want to establish our own independence from the one who has given us all that we have.
Every single human heart is hell-bent on this cosmic conspiracy. Although the evidence for God is self attesting we insist that we have theories and discoveries that say otherwise. The totality of our damnation cannot be overstated. No one seeks God. No one wants to bow the knee. We want to earn our own salvation. We want to build our own religions. We want to construct sophisticated worldviews that help us forget the obvious.
And yet he is there, and as Francis Schaffer puts it, he certainly is not silent. Everyone will stand before God and have no excuse.
Neither can we pull ourselves by our own bootstraps. We cannot pay the debt. We cannot even reorient our minds and hearts in the right way to understand what it really means to repent. Our rebellion against God has cost us everything and we are out in the utter darkness. We need help. More than we know. No act of good work, no religious ceremony, no sacrifice of ours can wash us clean and restore our relationship with our Maker.
That is when our Maker himself steps in. Although God exists in a perfect state of eternal harmony, joy and peace within himself, God willingly gives himself up for us to pay our debt and bring us in. The second person of the trinity, embracing the fullness of humanity, takes an infinite plunge into our dirty little world. Jesus comes in the flesh and lives a life of trial and triumph on our behalf. He gives his life as a perfect and infinite sacrifice – the only possible payment for the infinite offense which we have committed against the One who made us and gave us life.
This is the heart of the gospel: Jesus experienced the totality of our rejection and pain. God suffered at the hand of God himself for our sake. He died, and was buried. And yet death could not have dominion over the Lord of glory. On the third day he rose, triumphant from the grave. Therefore God has highly exalted him and has given the name above every name. He is the Lord who gives life. His blood is the only payment that can ever free us from the death sentence of our sinful rebellion.
This is the good news we proclaim in our lives, careers and ministries: the Jesus is Lord and that he has payed for our sin with his suffering. Everyone who hears this story and sees themselves in it, stops in their tracks, and bows the knee to Christ will be saved and have eternal life with him.
That leads to the epilogue. Our restored relationship with our Maker is an eternal one. Jesus is coming, and his kingdom is inevitable. He will return and set things right. Every knee will indeed bow. Those who are with him will be with him forever. Those who choose to fight the impossible battle will be doomed to the inevitable consequences of that battle. Forever.
The gospel is the story of all stories. It is the interpretive grid through which we see all things. It is the centerpiece of the only worldview that makes sense: God’s worldview. It is therefore the heart and soul of our lives. It is the heart and soul of our ministries. It is all we have. It is all we need.