I don’t mean to be contrarian or cause anyone to doubt their faith, but I want to share some thoughts. I’m working on a study about the nature of the kingdom of God, starting with the gospel of the kingdom of Heaven.
I’ve been considering for some time that Christian tradition does not consider the gospel as fully as it should. Coincidentally, today, I’ve been engaging in some interesting conversation with a man in Oman who currently practices Sanatani Dharmi (Hindu). He wants to learn about Christianity, so I decided to oblige.
I’ve never tried to explain the gospel to people of other faiths. In writing this out, I again feel that our common perceptions about the gospel are sorely lacking. I’m going to share this with you, and I plan to do an in-depth study (as mentioned) and cite scripture as well. I will also consider ideas about the Jewish faith and Jesus as the Messiah.
I share this now because I want us all to consider these things. Are we children of God, truly? Are we children of the promise?
(You will probably notice my struggle in explaining the trinity. Do you have suggestions for explaining this idea to someone who might not have heard this before?)
Here is my best attempt at explaining Christianity:
The Christian faith is centered around Jesus, as you already know most likely. So, I will start with telling you about who he is, what he stands for, and why we put our faith in him.
Jesus is the son of God, and he also is God. God is the Creator, and as God, Jesus is Life.
Jesus was conceived within a virgin, born of the Holy Spirit of God. God is a Spirit. Jesus, being born of the Holy Spirit, comes forth from God. So, he is both one with God, and yet distinct from God in that he was born of a woman.
As God, and as Life, Jesus stands for all things pertaining to life. His teachings are centered around love, mercy, forgiveness, humility, reverence for God, and sacrificing self for the good of others.
There is a counterpart to Jesus. This is Satan. Whereas Jesus is Life and Light, Satan is Death and Darkness.
Presently, this world is ruled by Death. We see this in that all things die. The reason all things die is because of sin. To sin is to act in ways that bring death. As creatures of this world, we are naturally drawn to things that bring death. We are destructive creatures that kill the creation and mankind with hatefulness, pride, selfishness, and a variety of other matters of “darkness” and “death.” Because of our sin that brings death, death is our just punishment.
There is no man or woman to walk this earth without sin. Because of this, we are all doomed to the punishment for sin, which is death. That is where Jesus comes in.
The reason God came to the earth in the person of the Son, Jesus, was to make atonement for the sins of mankind. Being that Jesus is God, he is the only being that could walk in the flesh without sin, so he is the only being perfect enough to provide the atonement.
After Jesus was crucified and killed, because he was God, he had the power to raise himself from the dead. The resurrection is a central part of the faith because this shows us that Jesus is God, and that he is Life.
When we put our faith in Jesus, his sacrificial death forgives us of our sins. His resurrection is a promise of life, showing us that if we continue in the faith, we too will be raised from the dead.
All of this has a purpose.
When God created this earth, it was with the purpose of raising up His children. Jesus is the first born Son of God, though he is also one with God in that he directly proceeded from the Holy Spirit of God.
Those who God is raising up to be his children are granted faith in Jesus, so that we can find forgiveness and freedom from sin. This is also freedom from death.
After Jesus was raised from the dead, he sent his Holy Spirit into the world so that people of all nations could believe in him and be redeemed to God. Those who seek to obey the teaching of Jesus (the teachings of Life) are given the Holy Spirit as a sign of our adoption as joint heirs of Jesus and children of God.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, our sinful natures are transformed overtime so that we are able to have greater communion with God and learn to walk according to his ways of righteousness—the ways of life.
We say that if we believe in Jesus, we will be “saved.” This means that we are saved from the punishment for our sin, which is death. This also means we are saved from the kingdom of this world, which is currently ruled by Satan—who is death.
Jesus “saves” us from Satan, also called “the prince of this world” because with the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we are no longer ruled by Satan and sin.
This salvation is called “the gospel” which means “the good news.” This is the gospel of the kingdom of God, because with faith in Jesus and by his Spirit in us, we are able to live in the kingdom of God as we are made free from the kingdom of this world (the kingdom of death).
If we are truly among those who God is raising up as His children, then we will continue in the faith of Jesus, leading us on a path of spiritual transformation as we are changed into the “image of Jesus Christ.” When Jesus returns, he will establish his kingdom and overthrow all death, and the children of God will rule with him.
The reason Jesus is the only path of this salvation is because he is God in the flesh, and he alone provides acceptable sacrifice for the sins of mankind. He alone has the power of resurrection and life, because Jesus is Life. His Holy Spirit is the only way mankind can find real spiritual healing and change of nature from sinful to the righteousness of God (the laws of the kingdom of God). This is how God has deemed His children would be raised up in His image.
Do you see discrepancies with this idea and some of the teachings we hear today? We are forgiven, yes. We need forgiveness. We also need to understand that the purpose for all of this is to raise up the Children of God. Are we children of this promise? Are we laying hold of the faith and growing in the grace-given things of the kingdom of God? Would the children of God pollute his grace and the gospel of the kingdom? Would we reject so great a salvation by conforming to the world Jesus died to free us from?
Of course, I realize that those who read this blog are serious about the faith, and most of you have blogs of your own. I appreciate that you all strive to grow as Christians. I think we will find that our striving is made simpler and more effective though when we push on in the promises of Jesus and consider the gospel in its fullness. Maybe you already do, but from my limited view of the world, I seldom see it.