Re-Discover the Forgotten Gospel

It’s there tucked into the middle of John’s account of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, the analogy for Jesus beloved by all (John 10: 1-18). In verse 10 Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). A more accurate translation is “that they may have life overflowing.”

Who was Jesus talking about? The sheep, of course. Jesus invited us to see ourselves as the sheep he protects and lays down his life for. There was no suggestion he is talking about what will happen in a future life. He addressed our daily life in this world.

What will be overflowing in this abundant life here and now? I believe the Good Life now will be overflowing with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I trust you recognize that this listing comes from Galatians 5:22, where Paul described the fruit of the Spirit. Understand that “fruit” means what we would call the product, that which a business makes and sends out the door. The Spirit produces the inner qualities of love, joy, peace and the other fruit.

The Good News re-discovered at the Reformation was all about the next life and how we will get eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. We get a few glimpses of what life later will be like “up there” in heaven. Whatever ideas we have about the new Jerusalem, the main point is that there we will have a very abundant, overflowing life among the saints encircling the throne and singing Worthy is the Lamb.

The Good News to be re-discovered now is how the Holy Spirit will change our lives and produce more love, joy, peace and patience within our hearts here and now in our daily living. I can’t think of anybody anywhere who would not want more of these qualities in their life. So come to Jesus and watch what happens when you open yourself to the Spirit’s work among those who place themselves in his workplace—believers gathered in fellowship around God’s Word. As earthly fathers know how to give good things to their children, “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11: 13).

Several centuries later this full Gospel was diminished as the institutionalized Christian church focused attention on the next life. In Medieval times, this life on earth was hard and often short. Just staying alive was a constant worry. People thought more and more about the next life. Surely life would better in heaven. And they certainly did not want to go to a worse life in hell. The Roman Catholic Church declared their institutional church held the key to the next life and set down rules that had to be followed. The Reformation established that we are justified by grace through faith and the gates of heaven are open to all believers. They re-discovered the Gospel of salvation by grace—the well-known Gospel.

But what about grace in this life? The 20th-century focus on the Spirit brought new interest in Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12. The key word for grace is charis, the gift given. Charisma is the gift received. Paul did not want his readers to be ignorant of spiritual gifts. First, he described giftings (charisma) for different kinds of ministries within the body of Christ: preaching, serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing to the needs of others, leading” (Romans 12: 6-8). The root word for charis (gift given) and charisma (gift received) is char, meaning joy. The Holy Spirit brings joy into our lives.

Then comes a sleeper verse at the end of 1 Corinthians 12: “But eagerly desire the greater gifts.” In Chapter 13 these are love, faith and hope. Now comes a major assumption that opens up new perspectives on what the Holy Spirit does in us today. Love, faith and hope are just some of the fruit the Spirit produces within us. As Jesus taught, the Holy Spirit influences human spirit (John 3:6). I believe he does this supernaturally.

Here is the second Gospel, the forgotten Gospel. We are justified by grace so we can live better by grace. Living by grace means receiving more and more of the Spirit’s grace giftings that enable us to become more loving and joyful. Those are grace gifts (charisma) from the Spirit working patience and trust in our inner being.

We are justified by God’s grace so we can live better by God’s grace.

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