There are three groups pf people in relation to the gospel of the mystical christ – those who know, that is really know – those who think they know, but don’t, and those who don’t know, either because they have never heard, or have never heard enough to give them a clear grasp. Everyone is in this three-fold group. As you can see the second two groups are really one, but for clarity I have separated it into two. So, the aim of this short article is to stir your thought and invite you to reflect and consider in which group you are
Many people in the second group, who have a strong idea that they know the gospel, are familiar with teaching like, loving your neighbour as yourself, working for justice for the oppressed, and to be merciful, and not condemn. They know about going to church, even prayer and Bible reading, and believing in God and following Christ, and that it is necessary to be baptised and to be born again. These beliefs, more or less, they take to be the heart of the gospel of Christ. But as important as they are, if you had thought that putting those truths into practice was the gospel, they are not. You have missed the centre.
Then, we come to those who would make no claim to know the gospel of Christ, even if they have few ideas, like following Jesus or going to church, either because they have never heard clearly, or never heard at all, or because they might say they have never had it explained to them, and anyway, that doesn’t matter as they have no special interest.
Well, do you identify with any of these descriptions to see where you fit into the spectrum I have covered so far, because I believe a very great number of people are included in this sort of description?
And then, what about those who really know, what makes them different from all the others? Are there some secret beliefs they have learned, like entering a secret society? No, but there are some vitally important differences.
Here they are: they are people who have discovered they were lost and far from God. But then they have been shown something of the glory, majesty and holiness of the true and living God, and have come to see the glory of God in Jesus Christ. Anything else? Yes, they have heard the voice of God calling them, and grasped that God is full of undeserved blessing and favour towards them and to all who will come to him through the Lord Jesus Christ. They are also people with a sense of amazed wonder that God was in Christ when he hung dying on the cross, and that he was there for them – Christ died for the ungodly.
And that it was there, on the cross, and only there, that all the sins of all the dark, guilty and condemned hearts who will ever trust in him, including their own, were judged, and God’s holy justice perfectly settled in full and for ever. For Christ, by dying in the place of others, had in love, carried the condemnation that had justly been their own. He, Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God, had died for their sins, so they were now freely forgiven, discharged from all guilt and blessed by the perfect righteousness of Christ being put to their account.
These people were not better than anyone else – in fact they had discovered they were far worse than they thought they had been – guilty lost and helpless to save themselves, but they had seen that despite their sins God had loved them with a love that had reached right out of heaven and down into their own lives.