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The "simple" gospel

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:39 pm    Post subject: The "simple" gospel Reply with quote

The Christmas holiday is a catalyst for believers to remember the gospel story, beginning with the details of the nativity. God took on human flesh to become the Savior of the world. The greatest mystery of all is stunningly simple.

This season brings choice opportunities for evangelical pulpits to articulate the gospel to crowds made up of many non-regulars. On Christmas Eve we heard “the simple gospel” from the famous text, John 3:16. This continues the well-established legacy of the Protestant tradition to offer Christ with clarity to all. When I hear the gospel preached I pray for the message to be received with power by those to whom it is new. And I pray to hear it afresh myself. We “love to tell the old, old story” even to “those who know it best.”

Certainly the gospel is simple: God gave his Son to save us from our sin. However, the gospel is also deep and profound. Every season of life brings a fuller appreciation of the good news. Each conversion we witness is another opportunity to comprehend the gospel.

My wife and I watched a video of the 25th anniversary London production of Les Miserables, a musical extravaganza celebrated. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, Les Miserables began capturing hearts in 1985 and eventually became the most popular musical in the world. The story opens with the release of Jean Valjean, a bitter man who served nineteen years on the chain gang. He is paroled by the self-righteous officer, Javert, a symbol of the law applied without pity. Valjean is destined to become a fugitive without chance of honest labor or income. The times are desperate in early 19th century France.

A hospitable bishop offers a surprising invitation to Valjean to come into his home and share a meal. Unfortunately, the temptation proves too great and the guest steals some of the silver in the house. Valjean is caught and brought before Javert, who is more than ready to resign him back to a life in the work camps. However, the priest appears with silver candlesticks and announces that he had given Valjean some gifts but that he had forgotten these. The officer reluctantly frees Valjean who, himself bewildered, feels a strange sense of debt for this unexpected experience of mercy. The story then tracks the transformation of his heart against the insistent rigidity of the legalistic guard.

Whenever I watch Les Miserables I feel my own heart moved as soon as the priest sings his high-pitched challenge to Valjean. It is the beginning, for me, of hearing the gospel again - a very well told version of the gospel that takes forty scenes spread across the two-hour drama.

I am reminded that the gospel is fresh in every new setting where it takes root. In the testimony of my wife who years ago discovered that Jesus was knocking at the door of her heart, gently inviting himself in. As she began to bask in this newfound love, she saw the world with new eyes. She bought a camera and began taking pictures of the beauty she now recognized everywhere. She saw people with new eyes and led many to faith in her effortless reflections of God’s grace.

I recognize the power of the gospel in a sophisticated story of redemption and in the long journey of a fellow pilgrim. Brief glimpses of the gospel also come in ordinary moments when extraordinary grace is offered. A decision to let go of being right, the choice to empower another, a silent sacrifice made out of genuine love.

In the wake of Advent, may we remember that the incarnation is not limited to the nativity scene. The good news of Jesus is divine life taking on human flesh. That can happen anywhere, any time, if our hearts have been trained to understand the countless expressions of the simple gospel.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2012 1:39 pm    Post subject: Just the facts Reply with quote

I enjoyed reading this post. As followers of Jesus Christ we often make the gospel to complicated. We use terminology that people don't understand and seems confusing at best. It really comes down to a "Holy God" wanting humanity to have a last chance at salvation. Jesus is that chance. He came into the world to save us. It is for all people. It is like getting another gift we don't deserve. Or like getting anther choice, when we have already used all our other choices. Jesus is that "candlestick" in the story. We just need to accept the gift.
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