9. Understanding & Receiving the Gospel

What is the Gospel all about?  What does it mean?  How do we ‘receive’ the Gospel so it changes our lives?  This session explores contains the Posts and links that explore these questions.


Blog Posts Related to this Session

  • April 13, 2014 - Palm Sunday: Passover Plot or Providence Program?

  • February 15, 2014 - Potent Simplicity: What is the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice?

  • November 26, 2013 - How does a Prostitute reveal the Good News of the Gospel?

  • February 11, 2013 - The Belief of Abraham – the Model Calling for us to Follow

  • February 3, 2013 - That Promise to Abraham … Overlooked but Everlasting

  • January 16, 2013 - The Hindu Kumbh Mela Festival: Showing Bad News of Sin & Good News of the Gospel

  • December 13, 2012 - What’s so Merry about Christmas?

  • October 10, 2012 - Pinocchio: Demystifying the Gospel End-Goal

  • August 27, 2012 - In the Image of God

  • December 21, 2011 - Christopher Hitchens and the efficacy of Pascal’s Wager

  • How does a Prostitute reveal the Good News of the Gospel?

    Here is the account of how a prostitute – a person with a background such that we would dismiss her – clearly illustrates the Gospel for us, and demonstrates why it is Good news.

    This is a video of a presentation where I explore the person of Rahab.  And then we use the Biblical image of grafting dead branches unto live ones to flesh out what Jesus in the Gospel is offering to us.

    Pinocchio: Demystifying the Gospel End-Goal

    I have been thinking of the creation and fall of both man and angel. A question that has always puzzled me is: Why would God go through with it? In other words, the fall of man,  in the Biblical-view, would have been foreseen by God. If I could foresee the fall of man that would be comparable to that of elves degrading to orcs, with all that unfolding misery and death, I would have probably not created them. But God went through with it, knowing what would happen.  He thought it would be worthwhile for some reason. What was that reason? What did He see that I do not see?

    Pinochio parallels

    It was actually the story of Pinocchio that gave me a glimpse into what God was doing in the creation of mankind, still foreseeing the Fall. I am not sure if it was intended that way or not, but the story of Pinocchio has remarkable parallels with the Gospel.

    Pinocchio was made as a sentient being, one who was alive and who could freely choose. But his nature was not like Jepetto’s (the carpenter who made him); Pinocchio was of ‘wood’ and Jepetto was human flesh and blood.  Jepetto’s longing from the beginning was to have a boy – a son – after his own human nature. Pinocchio, the alive but wooden puppet, was an interim stop-gap remedy. The goal all along was to have a ‘son’. Somehow that longing portrayed in the story (I saw it in the Disney classic animation) is so natural, so ‘normal’ that we hardly question it.

    Pinocchio did not become a flesh-and-blood son. He failed in temptation and rebelled and went his own way. The innocent, but untested Creator-creature relationship that Jepetto and Pinocchio had was destroyed. Pinocchio was corrupted and was transforming into an ‘ass’ (of the donkey kind). Here is another picture of the Fall.

    However, Pinocchio was redeemed and he was won back. The Fall to ‘ass-hood’ was stopped. But his salvation did not revert him back to being a wooden puppet. His redemption resulted in him becoming a real flesh-and-blood son of Jepetto – precisely what Jepetto had wanted all along.

    God made Lucifer intelligent, beautiful and powerful, and he could have doubled these qualities into Lucifer’s essence.  But no matter how many of these qualities God endowed him with, the chasm between the omni-Creator and that of his creature would remain infinite. A Super-Lucifer enhanced ten-fold would still have nothing that would compare him with God. God would still have no ‘son’, with the very ‘genes’ of God in him. Their natures would always be entirely different, the ‘wooden’ creature nature would always be infinitely removed from the Divine Nature.

    With the redemption in the gospel it is different. It is not mere creation of enhanced but ‘wooden’ features  – fundamentally remaining of different essence from the Creator. Read this invitation of the gospel:

    “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

    The Gospel is not simply an account of a reversal of the Fall or a way of ‘getting into heaven’. If you think of it primarily as a deliverance from Hell you have missed the main point. It is all these – but they are the minor incidentals in the much bigger plan of God. His intent is to get ‘children’ – not creatures. If we think of the gospel as primarily ‘going to heaven’ it would be like thinking that having a dog in your house is the same as having a son or daughter in your house. It is not being in the same house that is the main objective, it is the nature of the person that is sharing the house with you that is the most important goal. A dog is fundamentally different than a human. You may share your house with it, but the dog cannot be your son.  Children have the very genes – that is the nature – of their parents. This is a bond that reaches well beyond sharing a house (sharing a house is my analogy of God sharing heaven with his creatures).

    In the Gospel, God is taking his fallen wooden (and becoming ass-like) Pinocchios and transforming them into his very own children.  Then he will share his House with them. How does he do it?

    “…We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” (Romans 6:3-5)

    So God, in eternity past, planned and orchestrated the creation of man and angel. The Fall did not surprise Him – He foresaw its coming, but He also foresaw past the Fall, through the death, misery and sin – to the day when he would have Children – when his wooden puppets would return to Him as his own Kin. This was something of an entirely new order than created creature – even powerful, intelligent and majestic created creatures.  The metamorphosis was going to happen through a union with created mankind and His Son. Paul caught a glimpse of what God foresaw in eternity past and wrote

    I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. (Romans 8:18-19)

    Glory will be revealed ‘in’ the children of God. And even now creation itself is waiting impatiently for that day!

    People may reject the Gospel because they think it is not true. They may reject it because they prefer to remain autonomous and independent from God. Or they may reject it because they prefer their petty sins. But it is a real shame when we reject it for the mistaken notion that it is a very small and narrow vision.  One Day the Children of God will be displayed in all their glory to the universe, the wooden puppets of old transformed by a union with Christ. God foresaw it all before Time began. He thought it was worth the tremendous price of redemption that He would have to pay. It is a shame many of us do not think it worth it as well.