What is the Gospel?

This morning I was listening to a podcast of the Catalyst West Conference. During the conference John Ortberg was interviewing Dallas Willard. In the course of the discussion, Ortberg asked “what is the church getting wrong and needs to change for the future?”

The discussion then turned to the gospel. Ortberg observed that the gospel for years has been around “how to get to heaven when you die.” In response, Willard observed:

“The gospel is how to get into heaven before you die”

In order words the life and ministry of Jesus was not primarily about life after death but life before death. It is the view of making the word “eternal” an adjective and not a destination.

Take the classic statement by Jesus and look at it through new eyes:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Now translate the ending as follows:

“Shall not perish but have life–the kind of life that lasts forever!”

Suddenly you see that the point of the ministry of Jesus was making people come alive within. Not a life limited to the beating of the heart and flow of blood, but rather the kind of life characterized by power and presence of God and His Kingdom in the world.

I like to say at our church in El Paso–a church made up of people from many nations and ethnic groups.

We practice heaven on earth!

I wholeheartedly agree with Willard–the good news is truly how we can experience heaven on earth before we die not just after.

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