Transactional or Relational [What is the Gospel]

Priming the Pump

‘This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’.” – John 17.3 NASB

“…‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’.” – John 10.7-10 NASB

Why did Jesus come?

When we ask this question, many answers come to mind…

to take away our sins.
to remove our shame.
to heal all of our diseases.
to conquer death.
so that we could go to heaven.

These answers are all true. But honestly, I think that they barely scratch the surface of the Gospel.  It seems to me that often times in our Western minds we tend to focus on the TRANSACTIONAL elements of the Gospel message.  But, is that all there is to the glorious life of Jesus Christ?

Or, another answer that I heard recently…

to redeem mankind.

Again, true.  But, to say that Jesus came to redeem us implies that He came to purchase us back FROM something which further implies that He was ultimately after restoring us TO something.

But what did He come to restore us to?

holiness?
honor?
health?
life?
eternity with Him?

Yes.  Absolutely.  All of the above.  But, there’s so much more…

I am the door through which you enter unto salvation.  Knowing God and knowing Me IS eternal life. – JESUS

Relational vs. Transactional

Here’s what I’m trying to say…

When we reduce the Gospel to a mere transaction we sell it tragically short of it’s majesty, beauty, and incomprehensible glory.

The Gospel is a story of broken relationship.  It is a story of furious longing and violent love in which our Father stopped at nothing to purchase back His sons who had foolishly sold themselves into bondage and chosen a life of sin and shame.  It is a story of restoration to the relationship for which we were eternally created.

Think about it, when we read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15, we would miss out horribly if we stopped at the fact that the father gave his lost son a new ring, a new robe, and new sandals for his feet.  There’s so much more to the story.  There’s the fact that he was waiting and watching.  There’s the running.  The embrace.  The father profusely kissing his son who, very likely smelled like pig dung.  Then, there’s the party.  I can imagine the prodigal son sitting at the table, next to his father.  I can’t imagine that he was all that focused on the ring, the robe, and the sandals at that moment.  But, I imagine that he just sat in wonder and amazement at this father that still was willing to call him son and still wanted to be in relationship with him after where he’d been and all that he’d done.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrews used a word commonly translated in English “to know”.  It is the ancient word “Yada” and it means to know intimately.  It’s not an academic knowledge or a cerebral attainment to a truth.  It’s not the ability to rightly disseminate fact from fiction or the strict adherence to right doctrine.  In fact, it’s the word that Moses chose when he first wrote down the historical account of Adam and Eve.  In the NASB translation of Genesis 4.1, we read that Adam “had relations” with his wife Eve, and she conceived.  The KJV says, “Adam knew his wife…”.  While, the NIV says, “Adam made love to his wife…”.  The word here in the Hebrew text is the word “Yada“.  It is the word that is used to describe Moses relationship with God when the Scriptures say that Moses knew God, face-to-face, as a man knows his friend.  It is the word that Solomon chose to use in Proverbs 3 when he instructed us to acknowlege God in all of our ways.

This, my friends, is the concept that Jesus had in mind in John 17.3 when He said…

‘This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’.” – John 17.3 NASB

Today’s big idea.

Today, I encourage you to see Jesus as the door that He described Himself to be, to see that the Gospel is a story of restored relationship first.  There are transactional elements, yes.  But, when we make them paramount, we miss the main point.  We begin to believe that Jesus came to give us something, which essentially is true – but the “something” is Himself.  Let us rather seek His face rather than His hands.  For, it is in the light of His face that we behold the glory of the Gospel, and thereby reflect the reckless, extravagant love of the Father which transforms us, and re-images us to our eternal purpose in Christ – sons, stewards, and ambassadors.

[Kingdom Living] Son or Slave?

Priming the Pump

“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba!  Father!’  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs of Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”  – Romans 8.14-17 NASB

The Ministry of the Spirit.

If we asked a sampling of Christ-followers to tell us about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, likely we would be met with a variety of answers – regeneration, sanctification, conviction of sin, spiritual formation, edification, equipping for Christian service, signs and wonders, and so on.  Though, regardless of our traditions or creedal affiliations, it seems that there is often a glaring omission in this conversation.  According to the passage above, one of the primary ministry functions of the Spirit of God is to whisper in our ear…

 “You’re my son*.  I’ve adopted you by the word of my declaration and made you an heir in my Kingdom.  Persevere that I may manifest my glory in you.”

The question is…

ARE WE LISTENING?

Adoption.

 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1.12,13 NASB

In Galatians chapter 4, the Apostle Paul unpacks this idea of adoption beautifully.  He describes how we all were born into slavery under the law subject to the indictments against us and all of humanity.  But now, having received Christ, God has declared us sons and heirs though we were by nature we were objects of His wrath, separated from Him and from His eternal family.  Paul goes on to say that BECAUSE we are sons, God has sent forth His Spirit into our hearts crying out, “Abba!  Father!”

It is interesting when you look at the Galatians passage in context and consider that Paul is writing to a group of Christ-followers who have departed from the Gospel of grace in favor of a Gospel of works.  They have committed themselves to a relationship with “tablets of stone” instead of continuing in relationship with the “Spirit of Freedom” (2 Corinthians 3).

So then, sons are not those who are slaves to rules of righteousness.  On the contrary, they are those who are BEING LED by the Spirit of righteousness.  They are those who are allowing the Kingdom reality to have its way in them, transforming them, revealing the life of Christ to them, in them, and through them.

A Declaration of Grace.

The Word of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5) is God’s declaration of son-ship over us which can never be cancelled out; not by our own behavior, nor by circumstance, nor by the action of another.  We must continually learn to operate as sons and heirs, walking with a true heart of repentance – constantly realigning ourselves with our true nature which God is revealing to us in Christ.  As we continually grow in this lifestyle of son-ship, the enemies of Kingdom living…

  • performance
  • compartmentalization
  • hypocrisy
  • criticism
  • judgment

…melt away in a sea of grace.

 


* I wanted to take a moment to point out that when I say, “sons” I am not delineating between genders.  In fact, in Christ, women (just like men) are adopted sons according to God’s promise (Galatians 3.28,29) and fellow heirs of grace (1 Peter 3.7).