The Gospel and Youth Ministry | Part 4

  • Part 1 – The Gap In My Ministry.  This post looks at how our students respond to questions and how this exposes their grasp (or lack thereof) of the Gospel.
  • Part 2 – Why The Gospel?  In part 2, we look at two reasons we as humanity need the Gospel.  We seem to be all about the Gospel in today’s church, but why do we even need it in the first place?
  • Part 3 – The Gospel and Youth Ministry | Part 3. This post takes a look at three key characteristics of the Gospel message.
  • In this post, we’ll finish up the other three key factors of the Gospel message…here we go!  


    As we said last post, the Gospel justifies and atones for sin.  The other half of the interaction that leads to humanity’s transformation is that the righteousness of Christ being imputed to those who believe. The term imputed means given into one’s identity. It is not merely that the righteousness of Christ covers or influences those who believe, but through the union with Christ, it becomes an identity marker of those who believe. Believers are, as Paul tells the church in Corinth, “in” Christ Jesus (1 Cor 1:30). Salvation for believers comes through having our sins justified, but equally through unity with Christ. The gift of salvation is in and of itself the gift of Christ and unity with Him. The union created through salvation is the substance of salvation. As mentioned before, the Gospel message gives the promise that believers become a new creation. A believer unites with Christ and the sin receives atonement (when the sin rightly attributed to humankind is attributed to and paid for by Christ), and at the same time, the sinner receives the righteousness only rightly attributed to Jesus Christ (Phil 3:9).  


    The message of the Gospel is not hope attributed to individuals on the basis of merit. It is, by definition, a gift of grace (Eph 2:8-9). Humankind has a propensity and inner desire to attempt to earn or deserve salvation; grace does not come naturally. However, Scripture is clear that the hope found in the Gospel comes through faith alone, not by human effort (Gal 2:15-16, Rom 8:3-4). Should the fruit of the Gospel be attainable by human effort, that would leave room for pride, arrogance, and boasting to grow. However, as it is void of human effort or initiation, it is also void of human glory (Rom 5:1-2, Gal 6:13-14).  


    Genesis 3 presents the fundamental problem of broken relationships as a direct result of humankind’s willing and open rebellion against God.
    • Genesis 3:7 // Broken relationships with man and self.
    • Genesis 3:8-10 // Broken relationships with man and God.
    • Genesis 3:12 // Broken relationships with man and others.
    • Genesis 3:17 // Broken relationships with man and nature.
    Though nature is still functioning in open rebellion, the message of the Gospel is that God lays down the life of His son in order to reconcile, or make right, His relationship with humankind (Rom 5:10-11). Through His death, humankind’s justification, and His righteousness, believers are able to be presented before the divine God, His wrath abated, as holy and blameless (Col 1:21-22). Not only is humankind reconciled, reconciliation is found in relation to creation as well, as it longs to be restored through the hope of Christ (Rom 8:20-22).   In the next post in this series, we’ll tie all the factors together that define the Gospel and talk about the implications on our students and our ministries.  In the final post, we’ll look at how the Gospel, Baptism, and our students interact.]]>


    1. I just want to push back a little bit on this post, and some of the things in this series, too. I wholly agree that we need our students to understand the whole Gospel message, and I affirm that I need to do a better job of that, so the spirit of this series is right on track, as far as I'm concerned. But it seems to me that we can lose the forest by looking at the trees, and there's a danger of that here. I worry that we can lose sight of the person of Jesus because we're so worried about the importance of the Gospel. For example, look at the section titles, "The Gospel Imputes Righteousness" and "The Gospel Reconciles Creation." That's a little misleading. The Gospel doesn't do any of that stuff. The message of the Gospel can be known and understood by every person on earth without any righteousness being imputed and without creation being reconciled. It's God that imputes righteousness, and God that reconciles creation. I worry that there's a danger that we'll worry so much about getting the story of God's redemptive work right, that we'll miss the redemptive work itself! The Gospel good news is the work that Jesus did and is doing, but the Gospel is not the good news in and of itself. Maybe it seems like splitting hairs, and it probably is. But I have definitely met people who care a lot about the correctness of the Gospel message but none about the poor. They want to preserve the Gospel but don't act like they know the God of the Gospel. None of the good news is possible without the action of God, and when we attribute the action of God to the message of God, things get muddied. Additionally, and this is just my holiness background talking, I would like to see something about sanctification in here. Not only do we get imputed righteousness and justification, but we get the Holy Spirit's work of sanctification as a part of the good news too.
      • I definitely see where you're coming from, but think you may also be missing the forest for the trees as well. I think you're right, the message of the Gospel is what Jesus is doing and has done. What is that message? It's the message that centers on the cross, transforms individuals and communities, justifies and atones for sins, a message of imputed righteousness that is not earned and reconciles creation. I can see where you would say "saying the gospel does that" is misleading, but I don't think I'd agree. I would say that too often in "pop christian culture," the Gospel is a buzz word thrown around too often without having a definition (almost like not looking at the trees in the forest). In reference to people not caring about the poor but caring about the Gospel, I'd say I see that all too often; people wanting to stay theological without letting its implications pour into their life. BUT, if they truly do want to grasp the gospel, then they need to be able to explain within themselves why they aren't pursing and engaging in those reconcile those broken relationships from genesis 3, or they're not really embracing the full Gospel. I would say that I feel like sanctification is at the heart of many of the aspects from the past two posts. BUT, other aspects are explicitly addressed, so that one probably should have been explicitly stated as well. That's more due to the fact that this series stems from some writings and writing-prep I did in an academic setting and felt like it could be beneficial in this setting as well. In that setting, we'd discussed sanctification in other areas and had a pretty firm word limit. When I went through and reformatted it for blog posts, I didn't really address much of the content. Loved reading through your thoughts, Matt! Thanks for engaging with the post!!

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