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The Gospel is not simply Jesus dying on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. The Gospel is not simply a theory of atonement--or even the act of atonement itself. The Gospel is not "justification".
The Gospel is the "good news" that God has sent His Son to fulfill His original purpose for creation by "summing up everything in the heavens and earth in Him". He does this by joining His image-bearers to Himself in Christ by the Spirit thus fulfilling His purpose to reign over the Cosmos through Man in an intimate, love relationship that accomplishes the universal flourishing of whole created order.
The Gospel is the "good news" that in Christ God has recovered Sacred Space. It is the realization and manifestation of the Kingdom of God! It is the inauguration of New Creation in Christ!
Is this the Gospel we proclaim? With our words? With our lives?
When we celebrate the Resurrection we’re celebrating the fulfillment in substance of God’s purpose for His Creation: His purpose to sum up everything in Christ by establishing the New Creation in Him. And He does this not just by bringing to life that which was dead; it’s much more profound than this. In Himself through the Spirit, Christ establishes the New Creation by giving His Life to that which was Dead, and then raising it up—raising us up—in Him! New Creation then is the fulfillment of the principle of Life out of Death that we see throughout the Scripture & ultimately fulfilled in Jesus’ Resurrection.
As our resurrected Lord, Jesus the Man as the second Adam, is the “first fruit” of New Creation. Christ in Himself is theLife and theResurrection that we share in when we are joined to Him by the Spirit. We died with Him and we have been resurrected in Him. His Life is our life. His death is our death and His resurrection is our resurrection. So, as New Creations ourselves now in Him, we are the proof of Jesus’ Resurrection! We are the proof that He is alive and active because the Church as His Body isHis life and activity in the world. We are the very presence of Christ on earth.
Our challenge as Christians, then, is to manifest His Life by living into our identity as sons in the Son. Our only obligation as Christians, as sons and daughters of God in Christ, is to live out His life that is in us. In other words, our obligation of obedience is be who we are—the presence and fragrance of Christ! How? Not by following a bunch of rules or by “keeping the Law” or by being the doctrinal police, but by living lives of Love in the power of the Spirit! As Children of the living God, as those who have been united to God in Christ through the Spirit, love is the only measure of our lives.
For Paul the only thing that mattered is the New Creation; which is to say, Faith working through Love. And the love that we exercise toward one another and the world is the proof of the Resurrection because love is the proof of Christin us.
So the question we should be asking ourselves is not, Do we have all our “doctrinal ducks” lined up correctly? No. The question is: What does the world see when they look at us? Do they see love? If so, then (and only then) will they see Jesus—as He said they would.
As “New Creations” in Christ, as those who share in Jesus’ Resurrected Life and thus participate in the very life of God Himself (the life of the Father, Son and Spirit that is love), our calling is simple: we are to be who we are—by living lives of love.
Philip E. Hughes: "The True Image: The Origin and Destiny of Man in Christ" “The kingdom of God in the new heaven and the new earth is also the harvest of God, the fruition of all his purposes from the foundation of the world. The...[ abbreviated | read entire ]