Gospel Identity – Week 8 – His Story Our Story (Part 1)
Our goal is to become Gospel Fluent people. This only happens when we recognize that we have to change the way we think.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We are instructed by Peter that we should be ready to talk about the Gospel when people ask why we have a different view of life.
1 Pet 3:15
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect
- Peter expects people to ask why we have the mind set we have
- Peter says we do this with gentleness and respect.
But why would they do this? Because we will be talking about the Gospel with them and helping them to see how God interacts with their story.
5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
So what does this look like? How does this look in everyday life? How do we get into these conversations?
Everyone has a dominant story
Every person we encounter, every community we enter into and every culture we engage has a dominant Story with many sub-stories. The dominant story is the strongest, way people think about God, others, and the world. This is called a worldview because it is the lens through which they view the world. Each persons worldview shapes how they receive and process information, act in relationships, make decisions, and shape their beliefs systems.
Most times anything that has an “ism: attached to it is a worldview…
Feminism, environmentalism, agnosticism, atheism, alcoholism, commercialism, altruism, racism, even political activism
This is the one that right now drives me nuts… No matter what side of the political fence you stand on today. You and I have a real potential to fall into the trap of making the dominant story of our lives something other than the Gospel.
THE Dominant Story
There is ONE dominant Story that all stories will ultimately find their place in and finally find as their completion. It is God’s Story — the Gospel. Whether or not you are a believer here today, God’s word tells us that one day “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. (Rom 4:11; Phil 2:10) His Story precedes, finishes, corrects and ultimately makes sense of all other stories. In order to share the Gospel with people we must listen with “Gospel Ears” for where any part of someone’s story coincides with the Gospel and also where it is not in line with or influenced by the Gospel.
I desire everyone here to become so familiar with God’s Story, the Gospel, that eventually our worldviews become realigned with God’s intent for the world, our lives, and our place within His eternal plan. I pray that we will become more effective Gospel Listeners who can bring the Gospel to bear on our lives, the lives of believers, and the lives of not-yet believers, all around us.
There are four parts within God’s story: CREATION, FALL, REDEMPTION and RESTORATION.
Here we come to understand that God is eternal and is the Creator of all things. Since God is the Creator, He is the one who gives meaning and purpose to all that exists and is the one for whom all exists. We aren’t self-made men or women AND we don’t determine our own meaning or purpose, God made us and determines the purpose for our lives. And He has the authority to hold us accountable to the purposes for which He created us.
This can be seen in Genesis 1 and echoed in Colossians 1:16 – For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
In this part of THE STORY we come to understand why all that has been made is no longer in the state that God created it to be. Humanity and all of creation is broken and in need of restoration because of humanity’s rebellion against God, which started with Adam and Eve in the Garden but has continued on to the present. We all deserve judgment and death because of our sinful rebellion. We are presently experiencing the consequences of our rebellion all around us in the world and in our lives. Ultimately, we will all stand before God as Judge for our rebellion.
Isa 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Eccl 7:29 nlt – ” But I did find this: God created people to be virtuous, but they have each turned to follow their own downward path.”
Rom 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Since humanity rebelled and was turned over to their rebellion by God, God is the only one who can rescue us from our rebellious state and the punishment we justly deserve. God spoke words of hope to Adam and Eve and to generations that followed by foretelling of His rescue and redemption plan. God spoke through the prophets of a rescuer who was coming to live the perfect life we don’t live, die the death we deserve, rise from the dead overcoming sin and sin’s penalty, which is death, ultimately satisfying the righteous requirement of God for us and purchasing for God a people set apart for His work and worship. The rescuer and redeemer is Jesus Christ. There is no other hope for being rescued and redeemed for God and from God’s righteous judgment outside of Jesus and His work.
Eph 1:7 – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Act 4:12 – Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The plan of God doesn’t end with only a people redeemed for God and forgiven by God, but with a New Heaven and New Earth where sin, death, and destruction are all removed and peace and love define how we relate to each other and God. Jesus will return to bring about this full restoration and will ultimately be at the center of it all — all honor and praise and glory will belong to Him. While we wait with hopeful anticipation for him to return to complete this final work, he calls us to participate with him in bringing about healing and restoration as a foretaste of this future reality. Wherever people are living in submission to Jesus and His ways, serving and sharing the Gospel with others while empowered by His Spirit, Restoration is being experienced. Our lives of Gospel service are like a movie trailer of what is to come when the Kingdom is fully consummated.
1 Peter 5:10 – And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
Revelation 21:1-5 – Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Every Story Reflects THE STORY
This four-part storyline is found in every person and culture’s story. Most of our stories, however, are not in line with the truth of the Gospel Story. Our job is to continue to grow in our understanding of and belief in God’s Story (The Gospel) so that:
- Our personal stories might more fully line up with the truth of the Gospel.
- The stories of the people we are in community with would line up with the truth of the Gospel.
- The people God is sending us on mission to save, would come to find their stories redeemed in and lined up with the truth of the Gospel.
So, we must continue to grow in our knowledge and understanding of THE STORY and grow in “Gospel Listening:” listening closely to the stories of others in light of THE STORY—The Gospel. Every person and culture has these four parts in their Story:
Everyone has a fundamental belief about their Origin—who or what gave them their existence, made them who they are, shaped them into the person they are today.
- Who or What do you credit for who you are?
- How did you come to be the person you are?
- Where do you get your identity?
- What is it that I find my sense of belonging/significance/security in?
There is a reason why people, the community, and the world are broken. Each person has a fundamental belief about the cause of brokenness and has a deep desire for Justice in the form of Righteous Judgment. People blame their parents, family, friends, boss, government, etc. for what they’ve become AND want justice by putting the blame on someone for the pain and brokenness in the world. Everyone has a “Fall Guy” mentality—someone is to blame and someone deserves punishment.
- Why are things and people not the way they are supposed to be and who is to blame for it?
- What’s my problem?
- What’s tainted/broken/distorted/keeping me from being who I’m supposed to be?
Everyone has a solution they believe in, a remedy they look to or savior they believe in to redeem the brokenness in their life and the world. Many are looking to a philosophy. Others look to a plan for self-improvement or personal growth. Many believe some kind of reform in education or politics will change things. Everyone believes in a Redeemer or in a Self-Improvement plan of sorts.
- Who or what will rescue me and redeem what is broken?
- What’s my solution?
- What’s my savior?
- What’s going to change me/change what I’m facing, get me out of this?
- What will make everything better?
- If I had … Then I would be …
Every person has a picture of the future when everything is as it should be. Some see a utopia with all humans living at peace with each other. Others believe Mother Earth and humanity will be one. Still others see another world they will go to where they will be at the center. Some people’s future hope is to be married…have children…get a job…be rich…etc. Everyone wants something better…a restoration of what they believe their world should be like.
What will the world or your world look like when all is as it should be?
Who or what will be the focus of this world?
What would your perfect life look like?
Engaging in their Story
Once we start to understand some person or culture’s story, we want to begin to engage them in their story with the hope that we can:
- Find common ground to build from;
- Confront or Correct the inconsistencies or brokenness in their story;
- Complete their story with The Story.
Common Ground with THE STORY
As we listen carefully, we pay close attention to where the story we’re hearing lines up with the Gospel Story.
They could have whole section of The Story that they agree with (i.e. Environmentalism agrees with the Fall—It’s Humanity’s fault—but the rebellion is against Mother Earth, not God); or there may be parts of a section that agree, but still miss the Gospel (i.e. Jesus did come to redeem us, but it all depends on how well we behave or perform for him).
Finding the common ground creates a point of agreement and a foundation for talking about the Gospel. Our goal is to create a foundation of relationship and/or help them discover the weakness of their foundational storyline.
Consider how Paul did this …
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’
29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”
32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
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