So listening to a children’s talk in church recently, I realized that the teacher who was teaching from the Old Testament was making the (well meaning) classic mistake many teachers and preachers make when they are proclaiming the Gospel, especially from the Old Testament.
I have started spending time in Colossians after two months in Proverbs and was enthralled afresh at the emphasis on the gospel as it is set out in this beautiful letter of Paul’s. So let me share some of the insights I have picked up so far.
The key of the first section to me was expressed in 1:28 “We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ” and a little further 2:2 “My purpose is …….that you may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that you may know the mystery (not something hidden but something buried deep and integral to who He is) of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”.
Up to now Paul has emphasized the (1.) importance and the power of the gospel 1:5-11, (2.)The central and pivotal role of Jesus, focusing on Him and what He has done (this is perhaps the most beautiful and complete description of Jesus and His sovereignty and what He accomplished on the cross) (3) Paul’s complete devotion and dedication to proclaiming this.
And now the interesting thing – proclaiming a person not a message! Yes it is a message but it is wrapped up in a person, none other that Jesus the Messiah. So if we are not proclaiming Him with the purpose of those who hear getting to know Him more completely then we are not proclaiming the true gospel.
Many messages will mention Jesus and even give some attention to Him, but are really more about what we need to do! How we should live, what we need to do to keep right with God etc. This is NOT the gospel. The true Gospel is GOOD NEWS and should be that when we present that.
Why is Jesus THE Good News? Because we are living with the worst news: dead in our slavery to sin, under the power of this world and the Devil, condemned to eternal separation from God. This is far more awful than we tend to think about it, but the Good News is that God took the initiative and did something about it and that solution lies totally in the person of Jesus. Once we have come to know Jesus however we don’t move into a mode where we live lives according to a set of principles which are aimed at keeping us right with Him. No – we have been set free from this bondage and live in His power, not according to a written code but according to the Spirit. We cannot live perfect lives, we cannot live without sinning, Joh 1 tells us that, we cannot be Christian by trying harder, we can only live lives of freedom from condemnation when we realize this, coming to Jesus in repentance for forgiveness and knowing His continuing love and acceptance which does NOT depend on how good we are but on His love and commitment to us.
Does that mean we can live as we like without regard to Him and His desires? Of course not our lives are changed and if we truly wish to live in a relationship with Him we will desire to live as He has taught us to. Remember His words to His disciples in Mark “deny yourselves, take up your cross and follow Me. That does NOT mean go and live a life of ascetism, this is clearly shown in ch 2 Colossians. It means stop living with yourselves central in all your thoughts and desires and place me and my desires central in your minds and hearts.
Friends when you tell the gospel, ask yourself is it the real Good News that I am telling, not “some pat on the back feel good news” nor “some try harder and do your best sort of bad news.”