I was listening to a famous Bible teacher this morning. He is a good guy and greatly respected. I listen to him often because he has such a heart for God and for people. I always learn from him and he blesses my heart and mind. On this particular occasion, he shared how he wanted to be known as a herald of the Gospel - the Good News that God has brought to us! And what is that good news?
He shared this: The Good News is that Jesus was crucified for our sins, died and was buried, and rose again the third day! He went on to say that anyone, no matter how bad they have been, can come to Jesus, be forgiven, become a child of God, and know that they are going to be with God for all eternity in heaven. Isn't that good news? Our sins have been forgiven and we are going to heaven!
Yes, my dear friend. You are correct! Our sins have been forgiven and we are going to heaven. Please know, that my heart would NEVER be to throw stones at that glorious, good news, but I do want people to know that it is even "GOODER" than that!
If all the Gospel is, is that we get to go to heaven someday, Jesus has functioned much like a travel agent for us. He has arranged a destination for us someday, but Jesus is far more than a travel agent. Further, if the Gospel is that we get to go to heaven someday, then what happens in the meantime? Well, in the meantime it is going to be a MEAN TIME! We will be left to slug it out in this fallen world with our own resources, which are simply not sufficient to overcome the struggles that are on our plates on a daily basis. In a desperate cry for relief, we will have our eyes fixed on the heaven that is coming someday, and potentially miss the present experience of heaven that is available to us right now.
Thankfully, there is more to the Gospel. After He rose from the dead, He ascended to the throne to sit down. It was then, and only then, that He could send “another” Comforter. By the way, the Greek word for "another" is not “heteros” - another of a different kind. The word is “allos” which means another of the same kind! Jesus sent “another” just like Himself to be with us while we live in this fallen world.
Did you hear that last sentence? It is not as correct as it needs to be. Jesus was “with” His disciples, but that is not true for us. Because of the finished work He did, in the New Covenant economy, the Holy Spirit will be “in” us. The life of God Himself is “in us”, making us the temple of God, where the presence of God now dwells in all His fulness. Amazing! All that God is, His strength, His love, His patience, His mercy, His kindness is in us, experienced by us, and then expressed through us to the world. It is the coming of the Holy Spirit that allows the finished work of Jesus to be worked into and lived out of our own lives as we trust Him by faith to be our everything.
Ponder this glory! As we live on this planet, living by faith we exchange our strength for His strength, our patience for His patience, our independence for His guidance, our affections for His love.... In this “great exchange” we get to experience heaven - intimacy with God while we live on planet earth, right now!
A dear friend of mine says it well, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, did not come to this planet for the express purpose of dying for our sins. He came to establish a relationship with us, and dying for our sins was the only way to get that relationship” Now, that is really good news! That statement communicates not only God’s desire to make us right, but His heart to share our journey through this world in intimate relationship with us. That my friends, is what heaven is all about. Living in intimacy with God.
We must take care to not only understand for ourselves, but also help others understand, that the Gospel is not just a set of historical facts about what Jesus did 2,000 years ago, that we intellectually assent to. It is the opportunity to experience a relationship with God now, because those historical facts convince us to come to, and put our faith in a Person. A Person Who offers to be all that He is, to all that we need as we trust Him. Ours is not a doctrine, nor is it a message, it is a relationship with a Person, the Person of God sharing His life with us in intimate union.
Jesus is not a travel agent. He is our LIFE (Colossians 3:3-4). Now that is GOOD NEWS!