I used to have a very limited view of the importance of the Gospel. As scandalous as that sounds, I suspect that I am not alone. I used to think of Christianity as an Olympic size swimming pool, with the gospel serving as the diving board. I thought that John 3:16 was just the beginning. Once you understood and embraced that “God so loved the world”, you moved past it and swam into the deeper waters of the faith.
I was shocked to realize that the deeper the water I swam into, the clearer it became how wrong I had been. It turns out that the gospel doesn’t serve as the diving board into the pool of Christianity. The whole pool itself is the gospel. Trevin Wax puts it well, “…the Bible is the sweeping narrative of God’s work to provide the reason and the means by which we can be redeemed [The Gospel]. Further, it is through those who have been given new life that He continues the ministry of reconciliation to those who are in darkness.” Wax continues,
The Scriptures recount how God worked through those who were faithful to His covenant and regardless of those who rebelled against it. Throughout all of the Old Testament, in fact, we learn how God is on a consistent mission to reestablish the relationship with humanity that has been cast into ruins by our sinful nature and sinful choices. In the Gospels, we witness how God—by personal means—reestablishes relationship and abolishes death for His people. Throughout the rest of the New Testament, the mission of God continues through the church in the command to disciple the nations. His mission is the impetus, mode, method, and compulsion for the church. The church declares the veracity of and demonstrates the transformative power of the gospel to a pained world. The mission calls us to grow in maturity and engage in ministry. The most beautiful of all lives is the one fully cast into God’s work in the world.
And at the end of the Scriptures, we see this one great lesson in The Revelation: God wins. He is glorified in all things, victorious over all powers, and has extended mercy to draw men and women into a covenant relationship with Himself.
The theme of the Bible is the gospel. The need for the Messiah, and the promise of his coming fills the pages of the Old Testament. The accounts of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection which bear the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are commonly known as, “The Gospels”. The New Testament continues to unveil the power of the gospel message and it’s impact in the lives of the thousands who would become the church through the ages. We are a part of that great story. The central problem that humanity faces is the need for Jesus and the Good News of his gospel to reach us and redeem for us what we cannot redeem for ourselves. There is no need that haunts the human heart which is not met in the gospel.
That’s why it is so important for us to preach the gospel to ourselves so frequently. That is why it is so important to tell the story to ourselves over and over again, so that in every moment of tension in life; we find peace in Jesus. When the stress of financial debt weighs heavy, we remind ourselves that the condition of our souls is of more consequence than the condition of our credit scores. A man whose sin debt has been paid in full by the Savior will see any other debt in appropriate context. Does that mean we don’t work to pay our bills? No, but it means that Christians who live in the light of the gospel don’t get lost in depression when seasons of financial difficulty come our way.
How often should the gospel be mentioned in Sunday School? Every week. “But my lesson this week is out of Leviticus. It’s not about the gospel.”, you might say. The elaborate and overwhelming descriptions of the sacrificial system described in Leviticus reminds us how seriously God takes our sin and our need for atonement. The temporary atonement provided in the book of Leviticus points the way to the glorious and ultimate atonement provided by Jesus in the gospel. The gospel is present in every passage.
In our lesson preparations, we should be able to see Jesus in the light of every text, and every text in the light of Jesus. Jesus is the key to unlock every text because every text fulfills its main purpose when it reveals Jesus. Listen to His own words,
25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures.26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
You may be teaching from the Old Testament this week, but look for Jesus. When someone shares a need in class that seems overwhelming, tell the gospel story. When you read a passage of scripture that tells of a hero of the faith, ask yourself how that person points to Jesus. When we remind ourselves often of the power of the gospel, we remember our purpose and place in the world. Through the gospel we see that mankind is far more sinful than we ever dared believe, but more loved and accepted in Christ than we ever dared hope. The bad news is that it took the death of the Son of God to cleanse us from our sins. The Good News is that the Son of God willingly took the punishment for our sins, so we could become righteous in the sight of God. This is the story that should be the framework of our lives. Go tell it on the mountain.