The gospel is the heart of Christianity. But how well do we actually know it? I am going to share with you two extremes. Let’s take this Christmas season to reflect a little bit on where we are on this spectrum.
The Youtube revelation
I watched a video on Youtube earlier this week where they asked a question to random people on the street. The question that the host asked was, “when was Jesus born?”.
To my surprise, most people had no clue. With some you could see in their facial expression alone that this was not something they had ever thought about. Others came at least a bit closer to “the answer”.
I really thought that most people would know that Jesus’ birth is celebrated on the 25th of December. Probably Santa Claus and the stress of the gift-giving season kind of push Jesus to the side more and more.
The ironic thing is, that the “right answer” that the Youtube host was looking for, is not actually the right answer. Which made me wonder, of the shrinking group of those who would be able to answer that question with “the 25th of December”, how many actually know that this is incorrect? Did the host even know?
Though not the point of this blog post, the truth is that we do not know the actual date of Jesus birth. From what I have heard scholars seem to more and more agree on, it would rather be somewhat 6 months later. But, point being, it is not on the 25th of December.
Not only the birth of Jesus
To be honest, for me it is not about the fact that not as many people as I thought know “when Jesus is born”, but something more.
A thought came to mind, if they don’t even know the supposed date of Jesus’ birth, how big are the odds that they know what He was born for? What His life was about. Who He was. What He did and the hope that He brings for each and every individual.
It seems very unlikely that they have the answers to those questions and topics. Which is truly tragic.
But I guess to some degree it is kind of expected that people in the world do not have an answer to these questions. This shouldn’t be, the gospel should be shared with everyone, but it is the reality as it is now.
Flipping the script
Now allow me to steer the direction of this post towards the main point that I want to share with you. Because in order for us to provide the answers to these important, life-saving questions, we would first need the answers ourselves.
My personal testimony
I have been born and raised in a Christian home. And probably just like most church-goers, I had memorized at least John 3:16. But the depth and far-reach of this simple message had never pierced my own heart or understanding.
Many times I had heard, said and sung that “Jesus died for our sins”, but honestly, I did not really know what this truly meant.
The conversion moment
A turning point came for me when I was writing a gospel blog post for this website. And as I was writing and trying to explain the gospel for others, I realized that I myself still had a lot of questions I had never asked and had no answer to.
This launched my personal search (together with my wife) into really getting an understanding of the gospel. Not just drifting along in the comfortable church flow in the shallow waters, but setting out into the deep where the waves of mercy reach higher heights and the currents of love deeper depths.
Eventually this led me to writing a four-part sermon series about my testimony and the gospel.
The high standard of confidence
During one of my morning devotions this last week, I came across this mind-blowing verse. And this is the other extreme.
“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:8-9
Now this… is BOLD!
Paul was so confident that he shared the true gospel, that he had the audacity to say that if anyone else preaches something else, to let them be accursed. And not just anyone, even if an angel would preach another gospel! And on top of that, he repeats it again just in case someone missed his decisive and brave statement.
He knew that the gospel he shared was in perfect harmony with Scripture and God’s will. Can I say the same for me? How could he be so confident?
The Jesus revelation
Paul himself tells us two verses later why he could be so gutsy about the gospel.
“But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:11-12
Paul got his understanding not from man, not from teachings, but from Jesus Christ Himself. He had a personal encounter with the One who is the gospel embodied. Jesus Christ revealed to him the true gospel.
Paul had a literal supernatural encounter with Jesus that knocked him of off his donkey (Acts 9). You might not go through a similar type of experience as Paul, but let me submit to you, that for you and me too, the only way we will understand the true gospel, is through a personal revelation of Jesus Christ.
More than theory
Man and teachings have their value, don’t get me wrong. They are important when they speak according to the truth. But, that can only do so much.
The gospel is more than one-liners, more than John 3:16, more than sermons and altar calls, more than anything that we as human beings can share and teach you. The gospel is a life-changing power, that penetrates the heart and converts the heart of stone into one of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). It transforms your sinful life into a holy one.
Seeing things clear
A personal revelation with Jesus Christ does not mean that He needs to appear in your dream, or that you feel a certain feeling. It is a profound and mind-shifting realization of your own sinfulness in the light of His glorious, pure and perfect character.
Just like when Isaiah and Peter found themselves in God’s presence, they realized how unworthy and broken they were.
“Woe is me, for I am undone!” Isaiah 6:5
” When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” ” Luke 5:8
It is a revelation of how much in need of a Savior we are and that this Savior, is no one else but Jesus Christ Himself. The more we realize in how much need we are, the more we understand how deep the love of God is for us. That, though broken, unclean and fallen, He still loves us and gave His life for us…
It becomes more than just a phrase that we have sung, memorized or heard many times, but it has become a personal reality. It becomes the spring of life in our hearts, the motivation behind all that we do.
A living word
How do we receive such a revelation? Where does Jesus speak to us?
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” John 1:1, 14
Jesus Christ is the word of God. He speaks through His holy word and through it we can have a supernatural experience.
The Bible can pierce straight through our circumstances, masks and selfishness. The Spirit of truth convicts us, and we get this deep sense of who we are and who He is. This leads us to not only understand our need for a Savior, but it also give us the assurance of faith, that Jesus Christ can be that Savior we need! And that, that changes your life.
Live God’s Word Today -application
Those interviewed did not even know the answer to “when was Jesus born?” while Paul claims 100% accuracy in the gospel that he shared. Where in between these two extremes are you?
For years I thought that I was a Christian, but I never had that conversion moment where I had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. This only came when I started seeking and dared to ask questions about the topic I supposed I already knew.
Maybe it can be helpful for you too, to revisit the gospel. Maybe for the first time for real -like in my case, or maybe for the 100th time. The gospel never gets old, it will be as relevant tomorrow as it is today. It is something that should always be in our focus.
Are you willing to (re-)explore the true Bible gospel?