My first interest in “the gospel” centred on avoiding hell.
In my early teens, a schoolfriend who had recently started attending church, tried to convince me that a general belief in God was not enough. To escape hell I needed to believe in Jesus, say a sinner’s prayer, and ask Him into my heart.
It was a long time before I realised there was so much more to the gospel than acquiring a get out of hell free card.
Today, it seems, that most people still see salvation through Jesus as primarily being about avoiding hell and getting to heaven after death, and yet that is NOT the gospel’s primary message.
God didn’t give His Son to provide an escape from hell. Jesus came to make it possible for us to enter the Kingdom of God and ALL that the Kingdom entails.
If you are walking along a road to the garbage dump wearing filthy rags, and someone comes along, cleans you up and provides you with a meaningful job working for the King, with a promise of accommodation in the palace when your work has been accomplished, would you see that primarily as being “saved” from the garbage dump?
God’s gospel message is not “come to Me and avoid hell”. The gospel is come to Him and He’ll make us fit and clean enough for the new creation He has planned. A creation free of all of the problems caused by man’s sin – a creation where only righteousness is allowed.
Until then He has “good works” – an Ambassadorial job – for us to do, representing Him in the Kingdoms of this world, encouraging others to follow the path we took, migrating to His Kingdom and becoming citizens of it.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph 2) NIV.
And what does that Ambassadorial job entail?.
God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
On re-reading that last quote, the section I have now highlighted in bold print really jumped out. I believe that statement is one deserving some serious meditation.