In many churches in modern America and elsewhere in the world, we see that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is utterly misstated, misunderstood, or completely ignored. Unfortunately, many well-meaning Christian writers, speakers, and preachers tell an incomplete version of the most extraordinary story ever witnessed. All too often, in a well-meaning effort to win hearts and minds for the Lord, our teachers tell us of a man-centered adaptation of the Gospel, a cheap version in which man’s actions are partially, if not primarily, credited with the power and hope that should rest alone in Jesus Christ. There has never been a story in all of history, fiction or not, which has affected people so profoundly. As disciples, we must learn and believe in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and be bold enough with our words to stop the current trend of instilling this artificial and man-centric Gospel of man.
At its core, this version of the substitute Gospel of man is nothing but a cheap imitation of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. This edition of the Gospel is related to a cheap saving grace and has led to generations of unsaved Christians filling the pews of churches. Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes “cheap grace’ in his convicting and powerful book, The Cost of Discipleship.
“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?...
Similarly, the me-centered version of the Gospel is a cheap knock-off version of the true Gospel with sacraments that fail to capture the completeness and finality of the blood spilled that day on Calvary. It places more importance on the forgiven than on the forgiver, which decreases the worth of His sacrifice by reducing his role in the story. The essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is…..Jesus Christ. He paid the price regardless of our individual actions. In short, as individual people, we have little to do with the Gospel of Jesus other than being in the collectiveness of mankind.
After sitting through this man-centric gospel message weekend after weekend, I suspect you are trying to understand how I come to this position. How exactly do I support the statement that we, mankind, are nothing more than supporting characters in this, the most epic and life-changing story ever recorded, the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Close your eyes, take a deep breath, be brave and humble, and remove yourself from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Watch how the central portion of the story remains unchanged. As humans, our only role in the Gospel is to be saved and to share the God News Of Jesus. That's it; our lives and stories are not the Gospel; they are our testimony, and that is a big difference.
After our salvation, everything we do is an obedient response to the Gospel but is not part of the Gospel. Again, if you remove our personally changed hearts, our reborn spirit, and or our new mindsets, the Gospel of Jesus would still exist because Jesus still exists, and He would still be offering His grace and salvation to those whom God chooses.
The Gospel: A Simple Explanation
God creates everything:
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. - Genesis 2:1-3:
The fall and the curse:
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”- Genesis 3:17-19
The Promise of Restoration:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” - Genesis 3:15
The fulfillment of the prophecy of the predicted savior:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law of the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. Jesus dies on the cross to pay for our sins. - Matthew 5:17:
The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ:
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. - Colossians 2:13-15:
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus'[a] head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes. - John 20:1-10
The final earthy teachings:
And while staying with them, he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. - Acts 1:9
Do we see ourselves in those verses? I sure did not see my name mentioned. If we remove ourselves from the Gospel, the Gospel stays the same. Remove Jesus for it, and the entire thing falls apart. We, as sinful humans, can not have starring roles in the Gospel because we are the reason for the Gospel. William Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett, two of the world's most famous playwriters, did not write their audiences into their plays because the play was intended for the audience, it was for their gain. In much the same way, the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not include us because it was meant for us. The power of the Gospel, the salvation story which is told in it, is for God's elect, His people, not because of us. Our role concerning salvation is to receive its irresistible grace and respond in obedience to His teachings.
We must put our ego aside, stop worshiping ourselves, our churches, our manufactured holidays, our programs, and our churches and allow Jesus to do what only He can do, Be our messiah. He is the world's savior, the king of Kings, and the Lord of Lords; we should follow the words and actions of John the Baptist and stop working so hard to steal the spotlight and start working hard to show others how Jesus saves!
Now a discussion arose between some of John's disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” - John 25-30