The Good News in Bogota
I was four years old the first time I heard the gospel and understood it. My parents were screening the Jesus film in an under-resourced community in Bogota, Colombia. The image quality was very poor, lightyears away from what we’ve come to take for granted in our modern world of high-definition televisions. In my memories, I recall the film having a distinct green tinge to it as the 1970s-era projector relayed the gospel presentation at 24 frames a minute. It was that night when the good news became the good news in my own life.
During bedtime, I shared with my mom that I wanted to give my life to Jesus. She led me through the sinner’s prayer, and I trusted Christ with all the faith that my little heart could muster. That moment sent my life into a trajectory of continued obedience and trust in Jesus Christ. Because here’s the best news: the good news is still good news.
The Journey Starts Here
For a long time, I thought that the prayer was a finish line, the end of a journey of faith that was resolved at an early age. But as I grew older and began to understand the gospel more deeply, I have realized that the prayer of a four-year-old was not the culmination of my faith journey. Instead, it was the starting point of a much longer journey to know and to trust Jesus with every aspect of my life.
Gospel First, Gospel Always
At Brentwood Baptist, “the gospel first and always” is one of our core values. This means that we believe the gospel is the most important story that has ever been told. It is central to our life, and it defines the way we see the world. The gospel is necessary to be understood in order to find peace and reconciliation with God. A person has to believe that God sent Jesus to earth to die in our place. And we can have peace with God if we repent from sin and trust Him with all of our life by faith and confession. This concept is central to Christianity, and without it, we have a form of heresy.
However, many of us stop at the gospel for salvation and do not live out the gospel in our everyday lives.
From The Story of Creation
The gospel is tied to the greater narrative of Scripture. Many biblical scholars identify four major movements of the story God is telling in the Bible. These movements are creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. Creation is the story we find in Genesis, where God created the world perfectly, with mankind crafted to be a sinless image-bearer of its perfect Creator.
God created mankind to enjoy Him and glorify Him by shepherding the earth and living in communion with Him. Men and women chose to rebel against their Maker in the fall and were sundered from God’s presence. From here, sin, evil, and death entered the world. As a result, men and women experienced spiritual and physical death and were under God’s wrath.
To Our Restoration in Christ
It would have been a tragedy if humanity had remained in bondage to sin and death. However, God intervened in our story by sending Jesus, the second member of the Trinity, to take on flesh and be the means of redemption for humanity. Those who trust Jesus with their lives and their sin are no longer God’s opponents. Rather, God brings them into His family through adoption. They have new identities as children of God.
The final movement of God’s redemptive plan is restoration. God promises that someday Jesus will return, and He will end evil on the earth, bring justice, and make all things new. God’s people are now living between the times. We are experiencing God’s redemption, yet we are also awaiting final restoration. As His people, we are waiting and preparing for Christ’s return by participating in sharing the gospel and making disciples. We are inviting others to receive the grace we have received and living lives that glorify God. In many ways, we are living as ambassadors of heaven as we wait for God’s return.
The Journey Continues On
These are glorious realities. However, many Christians can flatten out the gospel to a prayer of faith followed by a lifetime of waiting on God to return. There is so much more to the gospel than a prayer of repentance and faith. The gospel is a lifestyle. Since God has brought us into his family, believers possess a new identity. We are no longer slaves to sin and enemies of God. Instead, we are the beloved children of the King of the universe .
Living in the gospel means that we continue to believe the central claims of the gospel in our everyday life. In our feelings of defeat, we claim Christ’s victory. When we sin, we return to the Father’s love instead of hiding in shame. When we feel our most insignificant and alone, we remember that the God who spun out the universe with the breath of His mouth is with us and for us.
The Well with No End
There is a lake in Colombia, South America that has no bottom. Lake Guatavita is a place of legend where El Dorado, the golden Indian king, hid his treasures from the Spanish conquistadors. People have tried to send divers down into the lake, send submersibles to the bottom, even tried to drain it to no avail. El Dorado’s gold continues to evade discovery.
The gospel is similar, but in other ways very different. The gospel is a well of mercy with no end. We can never exhaust it or reach the bottom. But the treasure is the water itself. It is freely available to all who seek it, and it is able to satisfy our deepest longings. In seasons of unrest and uncertainty, all are welcome to come and find hope and true treasure in the gospel of Jesus Christ.