Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thoughts on the Gospel (guest blogger – Kris Hassanpour)

As you can read HERE guest bloggers will be posting some awesome thoughts for you to read here on renown while I’m away on vacation! You can read my intro for Kris Hassanpour (today’s author) HERE. He also made renown’s 2nd ever “Quotes of the Week”. You can read that HERE.

***[This article will be published in 2 parts. Today is part 1 & tomorrow will be part 2. Everything below is Kris’ writing. only the emphasis below is mine.]

The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4).
Are you 100% sure that you will go to heaven when you die? Well the Bible says you can know for sure! Would you like for me to show you?
You will face a judgment after you die.
You will not fare well at this judgment because you are a sinner.
God's wrath will punish all sinners and they will go to Hell.
BUT, God has already punished Jesus Christ for your sins.
Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins, was buried, and rose again on the third day.
God will accept you into heaven on the basis of your faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If you do not want to go to Hell when you die, but want to go to Heaven when you die:
1) Admit to God (agree with him) that you are a sinner.
2) Believe that Jesus Christ died in your place for your sins.
3) Confess Jesus as your Savior to God in prayer.

Some Points to Consider:
In this model, the gospel and salvation focus on the next life (after you die) and our final destination (Heaven or Hell). No one will argue that our final destination is a minor issue; however, this "plan of salvation" initially fails to mention the significance of the gospel in this life and its effects on this world. Also, in an almost Gnostic sense, this kind of dualism pictures our bodies and this wicked world as the place where evil resides and only the spirit can be redeemed. Thus, you might typically hear statements reflecting disinterest in the physical needs or injustices of the world and an interest only in the soul of man or only in "spiritual" matters.

This version of the gospel shapes theology as well as worldview in many ways. Several examples might be:
1) The gospel message of salvation pertains to one's eternal destination - whether he goes to Heaven or Hell when he dies - not necessarily focused on this present world and his relationship to its restoration/renewal. A common understanding is that after salvation our relationship with the world will become strained at best and life-transformation generally refers to our disassociation with the world... Cultural renewal, social justice, artistic creativity and ways that humans engage each other or engage society as a whole are secondary to pursuing the spiritual good, which of course is the saving of their souls and the consequent rejection of all they once enjoyed along with everyone with whom they enjoyed it. They pride themselves in no longer hanging out in the places they used to hang out in and in no longer hanging out with the people they used to hang out with... Neither of which are what the gospel calls us to do. Right doctrine with Wrong action probably means that this understanding of the Right doctrine is inadequate in some way. I might suggest it lacks the balance given in scripture to proclaim the message along with living it out in the context of community.

2) The gospel message of salvation pertains to our spiritual existence not our physical existence. Since the bodies we live in are tainted with sin and will not entirely be renewed until Christ returns for us, some have taken this to mean that our physical existence is only useful or glorifying to God when it takes on spiritual significance. Meals, vacations, sports, movies, music, home lawn care, washing your vehicles, buying a jet-ski are all considered a waste of time if no spiritual significance is given them, i.e., coupled with a bible study, used as a venue to pass out tracts, “Christian” music, “Christian” coffee houses, “Christian” martial arts, etc.

3) The scriptures indicate that the same gospel that saves us is the one by which we live. That being the case, it is possible to be saved by hearing a gospel that focuses on what happens after death and consequently view this life as a spring board into eternity - what really matters. The philosophy is that since the things of this world will be burned up, we should invest very little energy into our culture, society, hobbies, interests, occupations, families, water for thirsty children in Africa, and other seemingly trivial or temporary pursuits. We somehow imagine our heavenly existence to be quite different than our earthly experience, and as a result we place little to no value on temporary needs of others and pretend that it is possible to meet their spiritual needs without them. It is possible to lead them through the gospel presentation outlined above and get them to agree with you, but not possible to show them the true nature of God in Christ without both the proclamational and missional aspects of the gospel. How will they really understand that God wants a relationship with them? Not when we offer them a tidy presentation of the gospel and leave when they are uninterested. If God wants a relationship with them, then so must we (we are his ambassadors. what they know of God is what they see in us). The gospel message of love, hope, forgiveness and acceptance are all found in the expression of the gospel lived out in the context of our neighborhoods and marketplaces. We proclaim the gospel message to those with whom we live and we live as missionaries among them building relationships and sharing the gospel until a community of faith is built around us. This community we may appropriately and biblically refer to as a church.

- by Kris Hassanpour


Obviously, Part 1 is the 1st side of Kris’ thoughts… our former incomplete view of the gospel. Make sure you check in tomorrow to read Part 2 and what Kris will propose as a more proper view of the gospel.


Caleb Jones said...

Wow Chris, since the 3rd grade I showed people how to be saved through "the sinners prayer" and about half way through my college years I started realizing that there is more to it than that! Sure, I alwAys explained that it's more than just a prayer but I only told them u have to mean it in ur heart! I went to my brothers ordination 2 years ago in Chesapeke, VA and they asked him what it took to lead someone to Christ. His response was not a prayer.... He explained to them that he would start with Genesis and end with revelation so that "The Gospel" would be fully explained. They asked him if the Gospel is only the death, burial, and resurrection. He replied, no. The gospel is the whole story he said and so many times we give people a condensed version of the gospel. They continued by asking him, "what if there is a man who is near his last breathe, would u still tell him everything?". He said no. Salvation can be received only by hearing and believing in Jesus and repenting of ur sin. But, each time the gospel is presented, there must be an attempt to present everything that Jesus is, instead of the end of the story.

This makes so much sense to me now. Jesus is not just our Savior, He is our friend who wants fellowship with us! I pray for the ones who I "lead to Christ" when I was younger, because I was so ignorant to what the gospel actually was! I now look to a future of change in my life in so many areas! Thanks Chris!! Can't wait for part 2!!!

Son of Emery said...

So I've been thinking about this same subject for a long time. I like the trajectory of your thinking, Kris. The Gospel is so much bigger than our 19th century hell fire and brimstone, romans road chick-tracks. God is saving the world, not just my soul. He is continuously saving not only our souls but equally so God is redeeming our bodies and the creation. Our world needs more than "If you do not pray this prayer you will go to hell." God is saving, and we who are "being saved" need to be participating in the holistic salvation of God's world. I wonder if the "gospel" we inherited is not culturally bound to a worldview that failed to see the WORLD. They loved souls, but hated the world. Just some thoughts.

hassanpour said...

yeah Scott. i agree. i think our theology is in many ways influenced by culture or sociological implications or other fancy words. take baptism: one of our strongest cases for immersion is that it pictures underground burial.... this isnt how jews necessarily buried thier dead. jesus was actually laid openly in a tomb... of course i guess he was immersed in a rock... of course, this could spur more debate than the actual blog post... :-)

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