Devotional - Whatever happened to the Gospel?
Heaven and HellThe Gospel has always had a strong eternal component - indeed, the 'hook' for the Gospel was always "Have you come to the point in your life that if you were to die tonight, and stand before God, that He would let you into heaven?" There was a time when you couldn't preach the Gospel without mentioning heaven or hell.
Heaven also came into the picture when it came to the Christian's remarkable ability to live a holy life, and to refuse to deny Christ, even in the face of death. Christian funerals were times of rejoicing, and Christians rejoiced at the opportunity to die for the name of Christ. The Gospel, or good news, is heaven is now available to everyone, instead of hell.
Relationship with GodThe Bible says, "And this is eternal life, that we might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent". The Bible equates eternal life with the knowledge of God. God is eternal, and to know God we must know that which is beyond the confines of our own mortality. God is immortal, and Christianity is essentially about a relationship between mortal man and an immortal God. The knowledge of the eternal, immortal God is the essence of the Christian life. The mystery of the Christian life, which is being continuously explored and testified to, is GOD WITH US. It is the awareness of this that determines Christian conduct, that gives a Christian peace, and ultimately gives a Christian his identity. The Gospel, or good news, is that the war between man and God is over, and relationship with God can now be even closer than it was in the Garden of Eden.
Christian identityJesus Christ is referred to as the new Adam. The old Adam is a condemned man, and all of his offspring share the same fate, because sin is endemic in human nature and cannot be erased by good education or good conduct. Our salvation is made possible by a switch of identity, so that instead of being 'in Adam', we now have the identity of being 'in Christ'. The Gospel, or Good News is that it is possible to get a new name, new passport, new citizenship - literally a new identity. But that new identity is literally in Christ. Christ is in us in terms of his life, and we are in Christ in terms of our identity. Our identity is a consequence of the life of Christ, and of our understanding that we don't have two lives, but one. The life of Christ is our life. To access this great salvation we need to 'confess' or identify publicly with Christ. This public identification becomes our initiation into Christ, and thereafter our good works become a witness that brings glory to God.