The Apostolic Gospel of Paul
This year we are going to be journeying through the book, Following King Jesus by Scot McKnight and Becky Castle Miller. The book itself works through the McKnight's books King Jesus Gospel, The Blue Parakeet, One Life, and A Fellowship of Differents. The purpose of the book is to focus on following Jesus as a disciple. It can be done individually or in a group setting.
This week we are looking at chapter two of the book. This week we are introduced to the Apostle Paul and his understanding of the gospel. More specifically, Paul explains that his gospel is the one that was passed down to him and what he has been passing down to the communities he is building. McKnight shows that First Corinthians chapter 15 is where we find Paul's passed down Gospel.
"Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel, you are saved if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all." (1 Corinthians 15:1-5, 20-28)
The way in which the gospel is presented by Paul still puts us in the definition of the gospel given by McKnight: the story of Jesus as the resolution of Israel's story. Yet, the gospel is flushed out because Paul says by the gospel you are saved. This radically reorients our ideas of salvation because salvation is not the focus of the statement, but the gospel is the focus. Salvation is a byproduct of the gospel, not the point of the gospel. Again, my gut reaction to this book is wow. For so long salvation was the only point to sharing the gospel. The point of evangelism was to get people "saved." I feel the more we read of the book it is revealing the scriptures in fresh ways.
I think something else that grabbed our attention was reading the gospel itself was about an event. The word gospel means good news. We found it interesting that when we think about news, we think of events happening and being told about it. The book proclaims that the news being shared are the events of Jesus' life. Mcknight puts it this way, "To put this together: the gospel is to announce good news about key events in the life of Jesus Christ." We framed it this way in our time together.
The Northern Star (our local college newspaper) announced on the front page that NIU had a public announcement that they were eliminating the student debt of one person. They publically announced that NIU would be the first State school to do this and that this one student was going to be the first to have their student debt eliminated this year. The NIU president then announced that the following year what was true of the one student would be true of all NIU students.
The students really connected with this understanding of the gospel. They heard the message focused on Jesus, but realizing the fundamental truth that what is true of Jesus, is true of all of us. The news event of Jesus was profound and transformational in understanding how they and the rest of the church fit into the story of Jesus.
I am sure we will spend a lot of time unpacking what this means, but we are all grateful to have the spotlight put on the gospel in such a refreshing way. How does Paul's message hit you? Does this gospel of Paul's challenge the way you share the gospel, or does it challenge you to share the gospel?