The Gospel is referred to in 2 Corinthians 5 as the “ministry of reconciliation.” This is because of how sin has not only created division between God and us but also between mankind. It should not come as a surprise that once God saves a person and brings them into His family that he would want others to be saved as well AND use the ones who understand and have experienced reconciliation to be a part of this process. It is the model Jesus started with the first disciples, and it’s the model Paul describes here as those who have been reconciled now become ministries of reconciliation to others. The Gospel is a message that the entire Bible tells the story of and to fully understand the Gospel looking at it as the meta-narrative of the entire Bible is super helpful.
God created the world and Adam and Eve out of familial identity and a desire to give Himself to others. It was perfect and without sin and God walked with Adam and Eve in a personal relationship.
Adam and Eve sinned, and this lead to brokenness and judgment.
Redemption was practically immediate following the fall, and the rest of Bible is God seeking His people to give them His presence. God’s familial love, mercy, grace, gentleness on display in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Every Old Testament story foreshadows Jesus, and every New Testament message is about Jesus and His kingdom coming.
One day we will dwell forever His perfect presence free from sin, and until that day we have been given new life through the Holy Spirit that allows us to conform more and more into Christ's image until that day.
Often when we think of the Gospel, we go to one aspect above. And while that aspect is true, a fuller picture of the Gospel is demonstrated with the whole story!
The above "categories" of understanding the Gospel can be super helpful in our own lives, and it can be super helpful as we learn to share this good news with others.
As Christians, what category are we living in? The answer is Restoration. But often times, our experience is more like we are stuck in the fall. Remembering the Gospel (and who we are because of it) can make or break a Christian's experience in this life.
CREATION - We were created in God's image and in perfect fellowship with Him.
FALL - We have all fallen short and sinned against God - resulting in brokenness and deserving His judgment.
REDEMPTION - Christ laid down His life so that we could be restored into the image of God. Through Faith in Christ's work and the Father's Grace, we are saved.
RESTORATION - We are being transformed day by day. One day we will be fully glorified!
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The Gospel is Good News, but it takes consistent remembering and learning about it and ourselves each day. These categories can also allow us to take everyday experiences through what I call the Gospel Grid! Let's look at a few examples: the Gospel Grid for Community, and then the Gospel Grid for Loneliness. (You can do this with any emotion and any circumstance. It can be a very healing way to remember the Gospel and see yourself in God's story and not just your brokenness.)
God created us to live in harmony and unity with each other. Knowing and being known. Filling the earth with his glory. We were made to work together for the kingdom and to bring God glory. He made us to need each other and the fellowship we have as a family made in His image.
The fall created divisions and disunity among all people. It breeds individualistic living and harbors hurt feelings between people. It sees only the bad in people. Sin and the evil one work constantly to keep us separated in heart and mind.
Christ came that we might have the dividing wall of hostility broken down and frees us, through the Spirit, of our pridefulness. He has made way for us to be reconciled and model reconciliation to others. This very unity and love for each other will be a testimony of the Gospel to others and draw them to God. This good news was meant to be spread through groups of people living together as they follow in Jesus’ way.
One day it won’t be hard to spend time with each other or for kingdom living. We will be free of sin and all the relational difficulties that come with this life. Unity is all we will know, and there will be no mission to seek and save the lost.
We were created for constant communion with God and each other.
We have been completely and utterly separated from God, and our relationships with each other are constantly bombarded with brokenness and the effects of sin. Resulting in being alone and without God's presence. People often wound us and leave us. Without the Gospel, these relationships never change.
We have been brought near by the blood of Christ! We have union with Christ! The Holy Spirit LITERALLY dwells within us. We are now apart of the Family of God and have the power and the calling to live out the ministry of reconciliation with Him and with our neighbors.
We can now live in relationships that are reconciled because of the power of the Gospel. This ministry of reconciliation brings us into a humble and transparent relationships that are marked with confession, repentance, and forgiveness. We can renew and grow in our relationship with God each day. One day we will see God face to face and live in perfect harmony with Him and others.
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Missional Communities are the Apologetic and the Hermeneutic of the Gospel
The 3 Circles Illustration is a simple tool to remember each aspect of the Gospel that we have been talking about. The 3 Circles Illustration isn't the only way that the Gospel can be remembered or used as a way to share the Gospel. But it is a simple way and it is the way that we teach here at Pleasant Valley. Whether you use Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration paradigm (CFRR) or the 3 Circles Illustration, you need a way to remember the good news and apply to your life circumstances and other's lives.
Life is hard, and without each other, we fail. Community Life creates space to be known, stay accountable, and be equipped for this life. Resulting in believers being able to experience the true joy that Christ offers and offer tangible hope to others who don't know Him.