What is the Gospel?


Question: There are different atonement theories, but one thing people keep asking me is, “What is the gospel?” I’d like to be able to give a few different perspectives on the gospel that are from different people who hold UR that shows that it is actually good news. Would you mind sending me a paragraph (or two) with the gospel according to you? I’d really appreciate that.

Response: The view that is most helpful to me would probably be labelled the “recapitulation theory of the atonement,” credited to Irenaeus in the second century, but based on Ephesians 1:10 “[the] plan for the fullness of time to unite (anakephalaioo: bring together under one head) all things in him, things in heaven and on earth.”

It’s also stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:22 “As in Adam all die so in Christ (the eschatos Adam, the “life giving spirit” (15:44)) will all be made alive.” To understand this verse, it’s best to understand that we are all “the Adam.” And we all have sinned by taking the fruit of the knowledge of Good and evil in the garden Sanctuary of our own soul; we have all attempted to save ourselves and justify ourselves; we have all built a body of “flesh” and trapped ourselves in a self-centered ego, by trusting that “we are salvation (mesus and wesus). In this way “the Adam” (humanity) dies—we tear ourselves to pieces with sin; “as in Adam all die.” The two trees in the garden are in one spot, for both trees are the cross. When we take “knowledge of the Good,” we also take the Life, that is Christ (Christ is “the Good” in flesh and “the Life”). And yet even as we take “the Life,” he gives “the Life,” saying “Father forgive,” even as he delivers up his Spirit. This is the Spirit that falls on the church—his people. This Spirit is the Spirit of Love—Love, which is “choosing the Good in freedom.” It is the decision of God, which is “Grace creating faith within me,” it is Christ in me, it is righteousness in me. I love, because he so Loved me. It’s Love (Christ in me) that brings the Adam (humanity) back together. And when we all love each other in freedom, just as Christ loved each of us on the tree, this is the LIFE. Life is in the Body of Christ, where each member sacrifices for all, and so all members lose their life (the life of Christ, the life in the blood) and find it (the life of Christ, the life in the blood) in a body of absolute joy. “As in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive.” That’s the Gospel. That’s the Good AND that’s the Life. Having known the evil, I can freely choose the Good, and so begin to Live.

It’s actually profoundly simple, and yet insanely hard to preach for we have utterly lost the paradigm. I ended last week’s message by turning to our cross and the communion table in our sanctuary and saying, “At this tree all of humanity was blown to pieces for we took the Life. And at this tree all of humanity is coming back together for God gave the Life. FULL STOP. That’s the Gospel. But you will notice that in this realization something dies; the self-righteous, arrogant, lonely, old me dies. And something is born, the new me, Christ in me, and all things with him in me.

I think this view encompasses all of the “atonement theories” except for penal substitutionary atonement. In Scripture God forbids “penal substitutes,” each man must die for his own sins. Jesus came to help us die to ourselves that we might live for, with, and in him. So, this is the Gospel “When you lose your life (psyche) for Christ (the head) and his Kingdom (the Body) you will find it.” Or to get back to the most simple version of what I’m saying, “God is Salvation (Jesus).” When you see Jesus, it will kill the old man, me-sus, “me is salvation,” and you will find yourself in the body of Jesus the eternal man, the image and likeness of God.

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