“How do you define the gospel?
It’s a question I ask every time I speak about Sticky Faith. In fact, I’ll tell you what I tell the youth leaders in the audience: When it comes to Sticky Faith, there is nothing more important than students’ view of the gospel.”
Kara Powell, Sticky Faith, Youth Worker Edition, pg 28.
“Our biggest problem is that we have an entire culture shaped by a misunderstanding of the gospel. That so-called gospel is deconstructing the church.”
- Scot McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel, pg 27.
That very question, “What is the gospel?” is being asked more and more often these days. For many, the “gospel” is about personal salvation - making sure that I’ve “gotten right with God.” Many Christians are able to explain the gospel through techniques and tools like the Four Spiritual Laws. However, when Jesus preached the gospel, he most often talked about the coming Kingdom of God. Yes, personal salvation is a part of that gospel, but only a part. Not the whole.
This sermon series kicked off on Epiphany Sunday and went through Lent. Epiphany is a season in the church calendar, defined as “a moment of piercing awareness, a sudden jolt of understanding, spread out over a period of time.” Lent is a latin word which means “springtime.” Both of these seasons provide us with an opportunity for reflection on our relationship with God, our understanding of who God is and why He came. It’s an opportunity for us to ask ourselves, “Just what makes the good news of the Gospel such good news?”
As the first part of the year-long Sticky Faith series, it is focused on addressing the point Kara Powell makes in the quote above. There is nothing more important than teaching a clear and full gospel to our children. While ultimately salvation and sanctification is the work and responsibility of the Holy Spirit, there is much the church can do to cultivate the ground that can assist the Holy Spirit in its work. One of which is working to make sure we are teaching a full gospel, not merely a gospel of personal salvation or a ‘gospel of sin management’ as Dallas Willard refers to it.
This series is focused on taking a look at the gospel proclaimed by the Gospels and Epistles, to give us an opportunity to see the Gospel once again for the first time, to acknowledge our need for “springtime in our soul” by reconnecting with the Gospel once more.
In some respects, the “flow” of the sermons seems random - it starts with two sermons on the visit of the Magi recorded in Matthew, then jumps to Paul’s summary of the Gospel in Galatians, then back to the Gospels - Luke for two sermons and finishing with the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. But each text helps us to see the Gospel as more than personal salvation or “sin management,” and that is the intent of the series - to move us outside the box we’ve put the Gospel in so we can embrace it in full.