What is the Gospel? (Part 1)
I’ve had a few false starts to truly understand Christian faith. Some of these misconceptions delayed my entry into Christ’s kingdom. Some have robbed me of joy once I was part of the kingdom. You no doubt have a few war stories of your own.
As leaders, let’s make sure our men understand what the Gospel is, and isn’t. And it’s not a bad idea, as one man put it, “to preach the Gospel to ourselves every day.” So what are some of the false starts to really understanding what Christian faith is all about?
False Start #1: The Gospel is about regulating our behavior.
Growing up as an altar boy, I understood the Gospel as adherence to a set of behavioral standards. If I disobeyed the rules, I was a bad boy. If I could control my behavior and bad thoughts, I was a good boy. If I followed the rules, I was accepted. The Bible, however, completely debunks this idea that the Gospel is about being a good boy:
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence (Colossians 2:20-23).
There are some things the Bible specifically prohibits, which must be avoided (e.g., sexual immorality, stealing, fits of rage). However, everything not specifically prohibited is permissible (though it may still not be beneficial or may cause a weaker brother to stumble).
As leaders, we have a duty to release men from manmade rules and regulations. Our job is not to call men to a set of proper behaviors; we call men to the person of Jesus. Evangelism is not regulating men’s behavior; evangelism is taking men as far as they want to go toward Jesus. Behavior doesn’t save us, Jesus saves us.
In our ministries to men, let’s be quite careful not to make a rule where Jesus did not.
We’ll explore some other false starts in the Weekly Briefings that follow.
Your brother in the battle,