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?

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.