The genuine gospel is much bigger than the individual. It is a God-sized gospel.
The God-sized gospel teaches us that God is redeeming a people for Himself. This people is to be reconciled to Himself, through Christ, from every tribe, tongue, and nation.
Paul describes his personal ministry from the risen Christ. This is crucial for the church to understand. In order to understand, we have to take off our “ME-centered” glasses and put on “God-centered” ones.
Paul wrote to the believers in Ephesus:
To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. (Ephesians 3:8-12)
God gave a ministry to Paul to proclaim the mystery which was previously hidden. Paul was bringing to light the unfathomable riches of Christ. Revealing what God is doing in the world He has made.
This amazing wisdom of God is being made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. All of this is in accordance with God’s eternal purpose which he carried out in Christ. It is through Christ that we – all who have repented and put their faith in Christ – have boldness and confident access to our relationship with God.
Really let that sink in.
God has an eternal purpose. It is bound up in His eternal character. This addresses one of the most important questions in all of existence: Why did God create the world at all?
The answer is because it was His eternal purpose (before the world was made) to reconcile a people to Himself in Christ. Through those reconciled people God is making known His amazing wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
When I resort back to self-centered living, my self-centered reading of the Bible will naturally lead to focusing on my individual relationship with God. However, if I allow a God-centered reading to dominate, then I can see that God intends for me to emphasize my relationship with Him within the ministry of the church which is to proclaim His excellencies and make His kingdom and gospel known.
God is reconciling a people to Himself through Christ. This completed work of the Messiah has disarmed the powers of the kingdom of darkness (Colossians 2:13-15) and made it possible for the captives of sin, death, and the devil to be set free in Christ. As a result, these who have been raised to spiritual life from spiritual death are now called to live God-centered lives. We are to live in accordance with God’s eternal purpose.
We are supposed to live to declare the awesome grace of God. Not just with our mouths but with our entire being.
This doesn’t mean that I should live my life like everyone else, pursuing the various lusts and impulses of the flesh. Your relationship with God is not about you.
Jesus did not die so that you could live however you want and escape the condemnation that is due to you. Following Jesus is so much more than “going to church.”
Following Jesus means being the church. Being the church means living in accordance with God’s eternal purpose in Christ.
Our relationship with God is about declaring to the world, including the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places, the manifold wisdom of a God who redeems sinners through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus in accordance with the Scriptures. We are reconciled to God through Christ. We exist to make this awesome truth known.
It is no longer supposed to remain hidden. It is definitely not simply personal. It is both profoundly personal and public at the same time.
It is meant to be displayed boldly and publicly.
Are you a victim of self-centered theology? If so, repent. Let Christ live through you in accordance with His plan which He determined before the world was even made.
We can trust Him. This is truly life.
Paul boldly asserted in Ephesians 3:20-21 that God is able to do abundantly more than all we ask or think, through His power which is at work through the church. This is just a few verses after declaring this eternal purpose of God. Then Paul describes the gift of leadership that Christ gave His church so we would grow into full maturity.
We shouldn’t stray from the leadership Christ gave. It was given to ensure that His church grows up together in unity, maturity, love, and the knowledge of Him – growing up together as we all speak the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:11-16).
Our local churches are dominated by pastors and teachers. They compete for the sheep who sit in different buildings all around the same city. In order to keep them interested and attending, self-centered theology is emphasized so that people feel fed. Satisfied. Don’t go looking for greener pastures.
By forsaking Jesus’ design and leaving Evangelists out of the local church leadership we have de-emphasized the main truth. The church exists, each individual member, to proclaim the glory and grace of God which we have received freely through Christ. I know that may make you uncomfortable. But again, it’s not about you.
Until we repent of our man-made traditions which elevate the “senior pastor” to the head of the church (in direct rival of Christ Himself) and seek to honor Jesus’ design of a plurality of elders in mutual submission to each other, we will continue to walk in our own ways and designs. Following the visions and missions of men. Holding to parts of the truth. Nullifying the commandments of God with our man-made traditions. We need genuine pastor/teachers and genuine evangelists to oversee the corresponding internal and external missions of the church. Anything short of God’s design is unworthy of Him.
Together, when we walk the narrow path with Christ, we can keep each other focused on God. We won’t be deluded by our own self-centered theology and lifestyle. If we’re honest, our self-centered lifestyles are nothing more than God-flavored worldliness. It is a form of godliness, which denies His power to really live in and through us, not according to our will, but according to His.
Lord, help us by your grace we pray – not because we deserve it but for your Names’ sake.