As I continue this series of posts on gospelism (aka evangelism), I imagine this post will generate one of two reactions. Some will say “Duh! I’ve known that forever!” while others will say “Uhhhhh…I don’t like where you’re going with this as it could lead to compromising the simple message of faith alone in Christ alone.”
Anyway, here are four premise statements that this post is based on:
- The gospel contains truths for all aspects of life, both temporal and eternal.
- These gospel truths are centered around the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- Evangelism comes from the same word for “gospel” and so might better be termed “gospelism.”
- Gospelism is a way of living life under the truths of the gospel.
Based on these, I came to a startling conclusion (startling for me, anyway).
Since the gospel contains truths for BOTH temporal and eternal life, then a summary statement of the gospel must be related to BOTH the temporal and eternal truths of the gospel, and which focuses on Jesus. In Scripture, it appears that this summary statement of the gospel is this:
JESUS IS LORD.
I know that for many of you, this is a “Duh” statement, but for me, it was staggering. I have spent most of my adult life arguing that the summary statement of the gospel was “Believe in Jesus for eternal life” and that believing in the Lordship of Jesus was not part of the Gospel.
But now I am seeing that the statement “Jesus is Lord” is actually central to the gospel!
To clarify, while I still believe that the only way to receive eternal life is to believe in Jesus for it, I do not believe that this is the summary of the gospel.
The gospel is good news for all aspects of life, not just good news about how to receive eternal life.
Therefore, the statement “Jesus is Lord” is the central claim of the gospel, because that claim alone touches all aspects of temporal and eternal life.
Jesus not only wants us to believe in Him for eternal life, but also to recognize His Lordship in all the other aspects of eternal and temporal life as well.
Only in this way can the gospel be fully believed and practiced.
The good news about Jesus is that He has come to set up His universal kingdom, by ruling and reigning in our lives and in this world. While this will never fully happen until He returns, He does want us to be moving in these kingdom directions now. And we do so by confessing and living under the central gospel claim that “Jesus is Lord.”
Interestingly, this week I was reading the new book by Frost and Hirsch called reJesus (I’ll post a review of it later), and they wrote about this idea as well. Here is what they said:
The church’s elemental confession that ‘Jesus is Lord’ captures all the meaning significance of the biblical teaching on the kingdom of God. …Our view of God is that Jesus is Lord, and the kingdom of God is the arena in which we respond to God’s sovereign rule over this world. All is included (and nothing is excluded) in this claim (p. 120).
The lordship of Jesus extends to our sexuality, our political life, our economic existence, our family, our play, and everything in between. There must be no limitation to the claim that Jesus makes over all of life. When we get this right, Jesus’ lordship takes on a missional edge. “Jesus is Lord” is more like a rallying war cry than a mere theological statement (p. 123).
I remember when I was a little ashamed to talk about the Lordship of Jesus because I didn’t want to be confused with people who taught “Lordship Salvation.”
I am now ashamed that I was ashamed. Who can be ashamed of the Lordship of Jesus?!?!
I now see that, ironically, it is only because of my belief that Jesus is Lord that I can trust His claim that anyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.
So why do I believe that eternal life is through faith alone in Christ alone? Because Jesus is Lord.
Why do I study, pray, and worship? Because Jesus is Lord.
Why do I seek to love and serve others? Because Jesus is Lord.
Why do I try to live honestly and with integrity? Because Jesus is Lord.
Why do I seek to see others come to faith in Jesus? Because Jesus is Lord.
Why do I attempt to learn and live the gospel? Because Jesus is Lord.
The gospel is that Jesus has something to do with all of reality, both temporal and eternal. There is no sacred-secular divide. It is all under Jesus, and we ignore Him at our own peril.
See more on this gospelism series:
Want to learn more about the gospel? Take my new course, "The Gospel According to Scripture."
The entire course is free for those who join my online Discipleship group here on RedeemingGod.com. I can't wait to see you inside the course!