A few years ago I attended a banquet here in Kansas City that was catered by a local high class restaurant. I was fairly excited to about the opportunity to eat such fancy food. However it ended up that the food wasn’t that great and the serving sizes were pretty small. The plates came with only what seemed to be a quarter portion. I was pretty disappointed. And I remember thinking, “That was it? No more. Nothing to add to that?” I honestly thought that there would have been more since it was such a high quality restaurant.
Now, I might make a statement here that could rock the boat a bit. When it comes to the gospel, in recent years I have asked “Is that it? Is there really nothing else? Really?” Yes, I asked those questions about the gospel. Go ahead and take your aghast gasp and read on, please.
For a long time, in my mind, the gospel was a presentation, a logical series of facts. And it was predominantly just for sinners. It let them know that Jesus loves them. He died for their sins. He takes away the guilt and shame of their past. And now they will go to Heaven when they die. Those of us who already heard the gospel, and believed in Jesus didn’t need it anymore.
Now, in all honestly, that is good news. Its great news. Extraordinary news. Incredible news. I don’t want to make light of the fact that what I knew to be the gospel wasn’t good news. Yet, I just remember thinking to myself (somewhere after college during my first few years of ministry) that there had to be more to it. What I had in my mind to be the gospel couldn’t be all there was to it. Talking about how we are bad, Jesus is perfect, and how we need to ask Him into our hearts just seemed too small, too insignificant, and short. I remember thinking that there had to be more to it.
I was taught that the gospel was what we shared with people who needed to have their sins forgiven for the first time. So it was basically only what “the lost/unsaved/unregenerate/pagans” needed to hear. And it mainly became my job to figure out how to take the gospel and “dress it up” or “spice it up” a bit so that people would respond when it was shared with them. It was a concept that you share with non-christians, and in my opinion, needed some help.
So for me the gospel got reduced down to diagrams, small pamphlets, catchy presentations, and a 5 minute spiel tacked on to the end of a sermon. All the power that Romans 1:16 says it has was gone. It had been replaced with man’s best efforts. It was even something that you could get trained in on how to present it. And that was the world that I seem to remember growing up in and living in for a long time. However, when I sat back and thought about it, it just didn’t seem right to me. I was told it was right. I was taught it was right. But it wasn’t. And no one else around me seemed to be asking questions about it, so for a long time I just went along. Kept my mouth shut. Turned my brain off to it.
But then I began to have a lots of questions.