Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gospel and Salvation (Week 2 of Gospel Series)

Learning Experience:
People gather in groups of 3-4 to put together the pieces of the puzzle. However, the pieces they are given don’t match the picture on the envelope.
What happened?
When you realized that the pieces didn’t fit the picture, what did you do?
Were you more committed to the pieces or to the picture on the envelope?

The picture on your envelope is called “The Bridge Illustration.” It works like this. We are the person on the left. God wants us to have life and joy and peace. But we sinned and made a huge gap between us and God. Because we sinned, and because “the wages of sin are death,” death is coming our way. We live a life that isn’t really life, and when we die, we’ll go to hell for eternal death.

Most of us try to bridge the gap. We try to do good things, to help other people. Maybe we go to church or give money to the poor. We try to get closer to God, but we can never be good enough. We always fall short.

But here’s the good news. Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He died instead of us. He made a bridge for us to be close to God. Now we can put our faith in Jesus to forgive our sins so that we can live with God again. Now we can have life with God in heaven.

I grew up with the Bridge Illustration. I have probably drawn it 100 times to explain the gospel to others. The beauty is that it is simple. It is easy to draw and easy to understand.

But over the past few years, I have begun to feel like this picture is too simple. At first, I started to make changes to the picture. I added an arrow for faith – showing that we put our trust in Jesus and cross the bridge. I drew a community of people on the side with God to show that we’re part of the church.

But finally, I decided that I couldn’t make enough changes to this picture to really describe the Gospel that we find in the Bible. This picture of salvation was too small, too individualistic, too much like a business transaction, to stagnant. After the person puts their faith in Jesus, they are done. That’s the end of the picture. They cross over. They become a Christian. The end.

That’s not what I read in the Bible. Becoming a Christian is the beginning of a journey, not the end. When we become a Christian, we still have a lot of work and learning left to do. We need a new picture. We need a new way of thinking about the Gospel and salvation. ...

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