January 8

There is no better summary of the whole gospel than what the Apostle Paul wrote in Col. 2:13-15. “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him.”

Sin had separated us from God, but now we are forgiven. We were dead in our trespasses and sin, but now we are alive in Christ. We were subject to the god of this world, but now he has been disarmed. All three aspects of the gospel have profound implications for our emotional and mental health. People who don’t know they are forgiven will be tormented by guilt. Those who don’t know that they have new life in Christ, will think eternal life is something they get when they die, and they will struggle with a false identity and a poor sense of worth. Those who don’t know that Satan is disarmed will be terrorized by his lies and fear him more than God. Jesus came to undo the works of Satan (1 Jn. 3:8).

Forgiveness, new life in Christ, and the defeat of Satan are all equally essential for a complete gospel. It is the later third of the gospel that most of the world is waiting to hear. The dominant religion in the world is spiritism. That is not well known in the West, because of our bent toward rationalism, and natural ism, and also because spiritism is not a formalized (institutionalized) religion. These people consult their quack doctors, shamans, and witchdoctors in order to manipulate or appease the deities. Some do the latter by leaving offerings to their gods. We have the privilege to share with them that Christ has defeated Satan and we have authority over demonic spirits, because of our position in Christ. That is the gospel they are waiting to hear, and that is just as much a part of the gospel as is our forgiveness. It is harder to recognize spiritism in the west, because New Age proponents have made is seemingly palatable by changing terms from demon to spirit guide and from medium to channeler. For the next few days I will discuss each part starting with forgiveness.

Neil

For Spanish, see http://ficmm.org/blog