The Gospel is For Me

The gospel.

The story of the astonishing act of God himself in coming down to be part of our alienated world, to endure the full horror of our rebellion against love, to take the whole burden of our guilt and shame, and to lift us up into communion and fellowship with himself, breaks into this self-centered search for our own happiness, shifts the center from the self and its desires to God and his glory.

It is true, God forgive us, that Christians have turned even this into something that they thought they could possess for themselves; that they have privatized this mighty work of grace and talked as if the whole cosmic drama of salvation culminated in the words “For me; for me.”

As if the one question is “How can I be saved?” leading inevitably to the question, “How can anyone be saved?”

But this is a perversion of the gospel.

For anyone who has understood what God did for us all in Jesus Christ, the one question is: “How shall God be glorified? How shall his amazing grace be known and celebrated and adored?”

The discussion of the role of the world religions and secular ideologies from the point of view of the Christian faith is skewed if it begins with the question, “Who is going to be saved at the end?”

That is a question which God alone will answer, and it is an arrogant presumption on the part of the theologians to suppose it is their business to answer it.

We have to begin with the might work of grace in Jesus Christ and ask, “How is he to be honored and glorified?”

The goal of missions is the glory of God.

Excerpt from Newbigin’s “The Gospel in a Pluralist Society,” pages 178-179.

I read this a few weeks back and it really broke me. How often does the Gospel become something centered on me rather than something that inspires me to bring glory to Him? For me, it is a difficult question to grasp.

  • Ben

    I would probably look at this a different way and say that “How shall God be glorified?” is a post salvation message; whereas Jesus lauded Nicodemus because he asks how can one be born again? You can’t really have one without the other.

    I agree that if your entire salvation experience ends with your sole ability to “be saved” then you missed out on the endless possibilities that await you post-conversion, but isn’t that what the epistles were written for?

    • B.D.

      That is entirely Newbiggin’s point. The gospel doesn’t come near ending at someone being saved, in fact part of being saved is being launched outward to the glory of God rather than concern for our own causes.

      This is similar to his take on election where he says that the point of election isn’t to ask who is in and who is out, but rather for what purpose has God elected us?

      Newbiggin rightly corrects the tendency of us evangelicals to start focusing on the question of who is in and who is out and instead be fully on mission as how we glorify God.

  • Chris Gambill

    Thanks for sharing this, Tyler. I would expand the thought, though, of the goal of missions being the glory of God to the goal of pretty much everything revolving around and focusing on the glory of God. God is incredibly concerned and focused on His glory. There is nothing that can diminish it.

    Beyond missions, the glory of God should be the focus of worship (corporate and individual), life, and everything else. God is glorified as we love and follow His will. I think that’s a huge part of the command to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength’.

    I believe churches, worship, and life will be much fuller and rich when we get past the focus on us and reorient our focus on the glory of God.