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A Brief Post About The Real Gospel

The Gospel isn't a get-out-of-hell-free card. The Gospel is about far more than just no longer feeling guilty. These are reductionist caricatures of the Gospel. The Gospel is grander, thicker than these inadaquate facsimiles. 

The Gospel is the declaration and demonstration that God's kingdom is breaking into this world through the birth, the life, the ministry, the execution, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah—and that it continues through the Holy Spirit's work in and through the movement of Jesus's disciples we call the Church. The Gospel declares and demonstrates that the Jesus who was crucified, died, and was buried is now alive, lives forever, and rules over all the governments of the world, over all the presidents, over all the prime ministers, over every billionaire and every mogul. That Jesus the Messiah is the Lord who rules in a way unlike any earthly reign—a reign that is perfectly merciful and perfectly just.

The Gospel is the power of God to transform individual lives, entire households, and whole communities. The transformation the Gospel produces always looks like Jesus; it always looks like an innocent man receiving a God-forsaken, criminal's execution in the place of the very people who were murdering him. The transformation the Gospel produces always looks like the forces in this world that hold people down, rob them of their God-given dignity, and seek to destroy them being overpowered by Jesus's Cross-shaped love.

It always looks like New Life, New Creation, New Vision, and ultimately a New City where God will dwell with humanity once again in undisrupted love and oneness—where there will be no more war, no more violence, no more pain, no more sickness, no more disease, no more oppression, no more injustice. There will only be perfect peace, perfect wholeness, perfect shalom. That's what heaven on earth will look like.

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner: The Gospel, Keeping Torah, Power and Table Fellowship (A Tribute to Dr. King)

On this day of national remembrance for a minister of the Gospel, I thought it appropriate to write a piece that both honors Dr. King's memory while also issuing a fresh challenge for today to the church in the US. I'd like to briefly reflect on the Gospel in the New Testament with an eye toward how it might have implications for race, power, and table fellowship in US churches.

Peter's Prejudice

After Jesus' ascension, and after the church was endued with the power of the Holy Spirit, God used Peter to share the Gospel with the Gentile centurion named Cornelius. Peter initially objected to this mission (Acts 10.9-23). He was a 'good Jew.' He obeyed the Torah, including the call to be undefiled, separate from "the nations." Father Abraham was promised that his offspring would be a blessing, would reveal the Most High God, to the whole world—including the Gentiles. But by Jesus' time, those who called themselves Abraham's children saw the nations as enemies to be despised and avoided (Luke 10:25-37). Those who taught the Torah sought to justify themselves with the Scriptures (v. 29). But Jesus taught that even the despised Samaritans are 'neighbors' whom God's people are to show mercy (v. 36-37).

Peter was slow to catch on to Jesus' program, but eventually he got it. When he saw that the Spirit had led him to Cornelius, he said,

"I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right." (Acts 10.34-35)

And after he witnessed the Holy Spirit being given to Cornelius' household, just as He had been given to Jesus' Jewish disciples, he said,

"Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." (v. 47)

Peter's declaration that these Gentiles should not be prevented from receiving water baptism is highly significant. Water baptism is initiation into the one Church of Jesus Christ. Peter was so thoroughly convinced that Cornelius and his family were true disciples of Jesus, that he was willing to welcome them into the church and join them around the Lord's Table in fellowship.  

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What Early Apostolic Preaching Teaches Us About the Essential Christian Gospel

There's been a lot of talk recently about what the Gospel is in its essence. Some partisan Christian groups with a particular theological viewpoint want to define The Gospel as their specific theological perspective—effectively rendering all other expressions of the Gospel error.

So what is the essential Gospel? Well, if we say it is the message delivered unto the early church by Jesus, how would one discover the content of that message?

I propose that one method would be to survey the content of the preaching and descriptions of the preaching of the apostles in the book of Acts.

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"Surely this man was the Son of God!"—The Good Friday Gospel

Of late, I've been reflecting on the very nature of the Gospel. What is it? In particular, I'm concerned that in the US, at least one aggressive, partisan group is attempting to redefine the Gospel for their own personal gain.

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What is "The Gospel"?—Three Convictions

"The Gospel" must be...

1. Good News for Everyone

- "Gospel" means "good news" so it can't be anything less than this

- For all people (e.g. Lk. 2.10, 3.6; Jn. 12.32)

2. Simple Enough for Anyone

- Children are capable of grasping it
(e. g. "…the kingdom of God belongs to [little children]" and "anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." - Mk. 10.14-15

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The Doctrine of Justification is NOT the Gospel: Ya, I Said It!

A certain "coalition" of Calvinists (who will remain nameless) would like to convince American Christians that the doctrine of justification by grace through faith—particularly the Calvinist understanding of that doctrine—is synonymous with "The Gospel." They use the term interchangeably with the doctrine and prominent members of their club have explicitly written that the doctrine is in fact the Gospel.

So, let's go to the Scriptures, shall we?

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Welcome to

Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.

T. C.

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