Retooling Transformation (Part 2)
We need a biblical definition of sin. Sin is defined many different ways in the Bible:
As defiance: trespass; transgression; obstinance; stubborness; unrighteous; wickedness; missing the mark
As rebellion: lawlessness; disobedience; ungodliness; blasphemy; unholiness; iniquity; to act perversely
As self-reliance: rejection of authority; refusal to comply; independent self-sufficiency; selfish pride; evil; to twist or deviate
From this list we see very quickly that we don’t just need forgiveness. That may not even be our main problem. We need change. We need correction. We need to enter into the authority and governance of a new kingdom.
The gospel is not just designed to deal with the “wrath problem” that stems from these sins. The gospel is meant to blow these sins up. It is meant to transfer us out of the kingdom where these sins are justified and are the norm (i.e. our self-governance). Our main problem as fallen beings is not that we are guilty per se, but that we are in a power struggle with God. In other words, we are guilty because we have struggled with God for governing authority. Washing away the guilt of our sin, while absolutely necessary, does not eliminate the power struggle.
The primary thing that people need to see before we take them to the Cross is not that they need forgiveness, but that they need a new leader; they need to submit to a new kingdom. If a person says that they have a “personal relationship” with Jesus but they are not following his leadership, they don’t have a relationship with him. They are just saying they do because they have sought forgiveness and guilt removal.
Who shapes today’s ‘gospel’?
– Christian media (“Will it sell?”)
– Mass evangelism ministries: we assume that they have a better grasp of the gospel because they’re big, but they only know how to get people to come forward, they never know how to call people into lasting obedience in a new kingdom.
– Personal Evangelism training ministries (usually based on mass evangelism ministries)
– Christian marketing firms
What’s the issue? Where does the “following” start?
– Every different denomination and tradition has structures built in to talk about and encourage actual commitment (“2nd blessing,” rededication, renewal, revival, etc.)
– But by focusing on these secondary commitment events, we are encouraging people toward salvation without surrender. This is essentially the old “No-lordship salvation” revamped. The Cross was never meant to perpetuate human rebellion! Jesus did not die to give us repeated opportunities to sin, he died to crush our rebellion and to conquer us for his Kingdom. The Lord taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer, essentially, “Let us have your rule fully here on earth!”
What about the thief on the Cross? Isn’t there a simple way to get into heaven? Doesn’t there have to be?!
– But this was still a ‘Kingdom transaction.’ The thief said, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” What an odd place to recognize your king! But that’s what he does! He recognizes his King and wants to submit himself to him! The thief is not (primarily) asking Jesus to punch his ticket to heaven by forgiving him and taking away his guilt. The thief is recognizing Jesus’ kingship and bowing to it.
What would it look like if the Kingdom message of Jesus took hold of a community? I.e. “The attraction of irresistible churches.” What changes result from repentance and Kingdom submission? What can we expect?
– The way we love changes: Our love no longer centers on self. It focuses on God, and that sort of love becomes a way of life. We become focused on his desires, his pleasure, his happiness, his control, his success, and the highest good of God’s universe.
– People should walk into our church and be astounded at the rows and rows and rows of spiritual fruit they see. Like a tribesman from the jungle walking into a supermarket for the first time, using an entire roll of film just taking pictures of the fruit section.
– John 13:34-35; 15:9-17: We need to have right doctrine (truth) and right behavior (transformation) and right relationship (love).