Thursday, February 25, 2016

WHY JUST ONE GOSPEL?

Among my favorite writers is a man who was way ahead of his time—the missionary statesman and prolific devotional writer E. Stanley Jones. One of the paragraphs in his Mastery devotional not only answers the above question but reflects on why the Incarnation of God in Jesus Christ is the paramount doctrine behind a true hope for the human race.

The Gospel then begins with the Incarnation. All religions are man’s search for God; the Gospel is God’s search for man; therefore there are many religions—there is but one Gospel. All religions are the Word become word; the Gospel is the Word become flesh. Therefore all religions are philosophies; the Gospel is fact. Philosophies may be good views; the Gospel is Good News. The Gospel is not primarily a philosophy—it is Fact. The philosophy grows out of the Fact. The Fact of Jesus is our starting point and is our Gospel. It is the Gospel of Jesus before it is the Gospel of God or the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Gospel lies in His Person-He didn’t come to bring the Good News-He was the Good News. This Gospel is not spelled out, therefore verbal; it is lived out, therefore vital. Jesus didn’t come to bring the forgiveness of God—He was the forgiveness of God. There is no other way to God, for Jesus is the Way from God. He is God coming to us. Therefore there can be no other way.

Those who insist that every religion is a valid way to God are like those who argue the unfairness of failing their math test. The teacher grading them is not bigoted or narrow-minded for insisting on mathematical accuracy but merely being realistic. Man’s search for God runs off in as many directions as finite human thinking can imagine. But logically, if the Maker of matter and mathematics, the Engineer of time and space, is on a hunt for lost humanity, His search would be as precise as the natural laws that run His universe. He would make a straight and narrow bee line to find those who have wandered from Him.

Do an exhaustive study of the religions, or be so bold as to invent your own. You will discover the “good news” of Jesus Christ light years beyond their reach. His Incarnation—God becoming human to search and rescue wayward humans—is without parallel among the belief-systems devised by human minds. The way of the true God, the God Who really exists, is that of a Shepherd searching for lost sheep, that of a loving Father seeking His wayward children. The Creator’s way is as insistent and accurate and absolute as His math.

Michelangelo's sculpture
As E. Stanley Jones said, “there can be no other way” than His for resolving and repairing the shortcomings of the human condition. God had to get involved personally and intimately by becoming one of us. But the only way God could get any closer to humanity than by taking upon Himself our human flesh was to take upon Himself our human sins. This makes the Gospel of Jesus Christ the most uniquely human-friendly faith conceivable. Theologically and spiritually, it does not get any better than this!

There is no greater affirmation to our fleshly humanity than the Bethlehem manger,  no greater demonstration of God’s divine love for us than the Cross of Calvary, no greater proclamation of true human hope than the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. The Christian Gospel is matchless, unparalleled, outstripping all other religious claims and concepts. That’s why it’s exclusive . . . why it alone is authentically “good news” . . . and why any honest student of religion, who really grasps the message of Christ in the New Testament, will be forced to conclude, “If there is a Gospel, there’s only just this one.”

2 comments:

  1. Religion is man's attempts to build a bridge to God, to get to God by man's own means. The Gospel is that God has already built that bridge, and all man has to do is trust and cross that bridge. The Gospel IS Good News because the former is impossible, while the latter has already been done.

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    1. Amen! But we do have a work to do, though. When they asked Jesus what to do to do the works of God, He told them to believe on Him Whom He had sent.... We've got to choose to walk across that Bridge.

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