What is the Gospel?
What is the Gospel? Gospel means Good News. If the Good News is the power of God unto salvation, then what is this news? What is this announcement?
Romans 1:16 (NASB)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
Is it, “Say this prayer so that you can go to heaven when you die?” Is Salvation merely going to heaven when we die?
Or is it like I was taught? Salvation is a gift. You just reach out and take it. But, now that you have it you have to make sure you don’t lose it. The results of this kept me in the mentality of self-improvement, religious performance, and the obsession of trying not to sin for nearly thirty years.
It took a health crisis for me to even question the possibility that my idea of the Gospel could be flawed. I hit up against a wall of pain and fatigue that I couldn’t push through. I wasn’t able to “perform” any more. I couldn’t be that good Christian woman I was taught to be.
It was in the midst of this crisis that I began to desperately cry out to God: “What is the Gospel”? “What are You really like”? “What is wrong with me”?
The Holy Spirit took me on a journey of revelation. He revealed to me the Gospel in Genesis, chapter 15. It is the account of God reaching out to Abram and making a covenant with him. Once I understood the depth of meaning within a blood covenant, an explosion of the reality of what God did for us burst forth from this passage of scripture.
Scripture says no man is good, and no man seeks God. In this story we see God coming to a man. God is always the seeker. We read this in the many parables Jesus taught. He told the parable of the seeker of the treasure, the pearl, the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son.
Without the understanding of the culture aspect of a Blood Covenant, this passage of scripture doesn’t make any sense to us westerners. In Genesis 15, God came to Abram in a vision.
“Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be very great”
This is covenant language that is as old as the beginning of time. In a covenant relationship between two parties, they share assets. They live for one another and they see themselves as two becoming one. They protect one another. Our creator is reaching out to Abram to bring him into a covenant relationship. There is a vastness of meaning within this entire chapter. Covenant is not to be broken. It is a great shame for anyone to break covenant within cultures that practice covenant.
In this story of Abram, they are making a covenant, using animal sacrifice. Both covenant partners are supposed to walk through the blood. This signifies that they are committing themselves to each other. The covenant partners are saying, “I’d rather die than break covenant with you, let what was done to these animals be done to me if I do not keep this covenant.” They have an announcement of terms of the covenant for each covenant partner to expect.
What astounds me in this ritual is what happens at the point when the two covenant partners, God and Abram, are supposed to walk through the blood. This is where the Holy Spirit brought an explosion of truth to me. This is where I saw the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was like I was there. It was as though the words in this story became a living thing. At the point when Abram should be walking through the blood, God puts him into a deep sleep! Man cannot keep covenant with God. It’s impossible. So who stood in for Abram? Who made that sacred oath on his behalf so he could be in unity with His Creator? Who was guaranteeing the covenant between God and Abram?
God is invisible. We can’t see him with our natural eyes. He appeared as a smoking oven and a burning torch. This is where I saw the trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God appeared as fire. Fire cannot be touched. Yet there is a torch walking though the blood. The torch has fire on the end of a piece of wood. It can be carried. I realized the torch represented Jesus! Jesus is the future descendant of Abram. He is God in flesh! He is the promised seed of the woman. He is the covenant maker and covenant keeper promised to Abram. He is the coming King promised to David. He is revealed throughout the Old Testament. Now with Jesus, we can touch God. He revealed to us what God is really like.
God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are making a covenant with Abram. They are swearing an oath to become one with Abram. They are committed to be his protector and Abram’s provision. God is revealing to Abram that He wants this covenant love relationship with him. This is God’s passionate love being manifested to a sinful man.
All who God is, He gives to us. Jesus came to bring us all back into covenant with our Creator Father. He stood in our place, and walked that path of blood, carrying the cross up the hill of Golgotha. Jesus, the God/man took on the entire identity of sinful man and nailed it to the cross. He literally became sin in our place. He took the punishment for the broken covenant for us. He became cursed for us and gave us all the blessings of the covenant.
John 1:1-4, 14 (NASB)
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NASB)
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
As I read this story of Abram with the new found knowledge of what a covenant is and what God is doing here, the Holy Spirit took me to the New Covenant. I became keenly aware of my own powerlessness to make myself right. I recognized my sin of self-righteousness, and I understood for the first time that my Creator brought me into covenant with Him. That I am in Jesus Christ, and He is in me! We are one! He is not breaking this sacred covenant oath with me. Jesus swore an oath in His very own blood. With Abram asleep in this covenant ritual that is taking place, I realized for the first time in my Christian life what the REST of the believer is. As a result of this revelation, I wept tears of joy and relief as I grasped the power of the Good News of Jesus Christ. That He is the one that does the saving. That salvation is more than just a destination after death. I realized that right now, I am in His Kingdom. Jesus is my King. I am His daughter! I have access to my Heavenly Father all the time because of the covenant Jesus made on my behalf.
Now instead of struggling to improve myself, and not sin, I bask in the love of my Creator. I see His passionate desire to be one with me. He will never reject me. He will never let me go. He did this for everyone, and not just a preselected few.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.
Hebrews 8:10-13 (NASB)
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel. After those days, says the Lord; I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God and they shall me My people. And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, and everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ For all will know me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”
When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
There are a lot of self-righteous Christians that try to get us to live under the law. I cannot begin to convey how much guilt and shame I suffered under this twisted view of the gospel.
The Gospel really is Good News and it does have the power to save us from our sins. It does have the power to unite us with our Creator. We live, and move, and have our being in Jesus Christ our Lord, Savior and King. Our identity and who we really are at the very core of our being is Jesus Christ!
What is the Christians response to this? Abram believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. Our response is to believe and total surrender, because even our faith is a gift. We can add nothing to what Jesus Christ did as us and for us!
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
“The Power of the Blood Covenant”, by Malcolm Smith