Scriptures to the Witness of God being the Father of ALL, and Jesus being the Savior of ALL. Part 4
Like most people in my environment, I grew up an “end times” believer where the Good News of the Gospel was mixed up in a mess of destructive destruction and the Good News was communicated against a backdrop of some terrible, no-good, absolutely abhorrent, very BAD NEWS! This Bad News was the key to getting people to respond to the "alter call" and such response gave the preacher and the pew-warmers the ultimate high in the service. The Bad News gospel presentation is very manipulative, controlling and very UN-Christlike in character.
I trust you can get the jest of this conversation...The preaching of the good news bad news gospel usually starts out with "God loves you so much He sent His only Son to die in your place and took upon Himself your sin. Followed by, if you do not say the "sinner's prayer" and ask Him to forgive you of your sin..."Just hang on a cotton-picken-minute pastor, didn't you just say that Jesus took upon Himself my sin on the cross."
"Well, if He took all my sin upon Himself what sin do I have left to ask Him to forgive me of"?
"Ah, ah, well...actually he made provisions for you to be forgiven of your sin, it remains up to you if you will be forgiven or not."
"So then, He did not take ALL my sin upon Himself...in fact what you are saying is that He did not take ANY of my sin upon Himself"! Man you are confusing me". Anyway continue your spiel.
...your on the the chu-chu-train to the torture chamber of hell and God is going to torture you for ever and ever by setting you on fire, except, you will never die and you will literally burn forever and ever."
"Sinner friend, things are going to get progressively worse in these last days...and no matter what happens, there’s no stopping this train from on the track to hell... and oh yes, on the way you will pass through the great tribulation where you will also suffer like nobody has suffered since the dawn of humanity! Sinner's are completely and utterly doomed, and my job as a Christian is get as many people off the hell-bound-train into the Ark of safety as I possibly can and get you prepared to gain heaven and escape hell".
"Now that you have the living crap frightened out of me, what is the good news"?
"I am glad you asked that question...The “Good News” is, a girl named Margaret MacDonald had a dream about how people can escape the tribulation and hell. A man named John Nelson Darby realized the truth regarding this girl's dream and was formed the end-time doctrinal truth, in that God has provided a way of escape for certain elect people...an escape called the “secret rapture of the church.”
By the 20th Century, this end-time theology caught on and it didn’t take long for the Good News that Christ came to bring to get perverted into a theology of detachment and escapism. Of all the negative things that have occurred in church history the invention of rapture doctrine and the modern end-times movement that was born from such man-fostered doctrine, and worst still, it ushered in an era where Christians waited for the Good News (escape) to be realized, instead of bringing Good News to people living in the world in the here and now. The Good News was promoted as escaping the tribulation and hell and gaining heaven!"
Really, is that the Gospel message? I suggest that the Gospel is not about making people fit to go to heaven, or bringing the atmosphere of earth to heaven...God is about making people fit to live in the earth and bringing the atmosphere of heaven to earth.
The end times version of the Gospel that many of us grew up with is very popular, not because it’s true, but because it’s easy escapism believe-ism. "Prior to the invention of end times fallacy of a secret rapture, believers were changing their world on a massive scale...changing broken social systems, uplifting the poor and oppressed, and addressing all sorts of other problems they referred to as “social ills.”
Jesus in them was working through them to help those around them experience God love and goodness, the presence God in the here-and-now, and the trans-formative nature of God’s reconciliation, all things that were truly Good News in every respect, without the bad news of religion.
But religion with its end times paradigm caused things to radically go down hill after Darby’s teachings caught on because his alternate version of being a child of God is so much easier to believe.
However, what I’ve learned from the life of Christ and viewing the scripture through the lens of Christ is that the Good News isn’t about escaping the tribulation, nor is it about escaping hell, it’s about transforming people who will fill the earth with His glory so people will experience His Love and Grace. The Good News is an invitation to empty oneself of himself, and to be agents of reconciliation who act as a soothing balm on hurting people.
The message of Jesus was never about raptures, escaping, or even going to heaven when we die. Instead, the message of Jesus was always about the fact that the Kingdom of God has come...and through the salvation that Jesus has provided by forgiving all people of their sin and through our repentance to enter in and enjoy the benefits of His Kingdom. Kingdom living is to be a reality in the here and now...not in the great beyond! Instead of leaving earth to go to heaven by a secret rapture escape, Jesus invites us to bring heaven to earth on the way to "heaven" while we are living on this earth.
This invitation to be the Community of the Redeemed on earth, producing the works of Jesus by Him working through us and filling the earth with His glory so that people will desire to repent, (turn from their selfish way to God's way) is much more difficult than escapism theory and besides the tribulation and hell fear-mongering helps religion to keep people in control and keep the wheels of religion turning.
The trans-formative Gospel of Grace is the Love of our loving Father in action, and IS the GOOD NEWS!.
If you are a escapism end time fear believer, my prayer is that you’ll be able to break free from that and experience Grace Living, building God’s Kingdom and experiencing everlasting life in the here-and-now.
The Good News was never about escaping this world...the tribulation or hell, but about transforming the people of world by the Community of the Redeemed living in it.
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21
Most of us looking for fulfillment and happiness in life, think it comes from receiving God's blessings from heaven and the blessing of gaining heaven. This is more a religious belief than than the Gospel belief. If God would provide me with more money, if I had a better job, if God would heal me, if the pastor would recognize my God given talents, we convince ourselves we would be happy. As if what we are looking for is beyond our reach or that it comes down from God. But Jesus makes a powerful statement here. The kingdom of God (realm, territory, reign) is not external but internal. It is not physical but spiritual. It does not come from without but from within.
Gaining "heaven" may be a benefit of the Gospel...but...it is not the goal of the Gospel! Being fit to enter the Kingdom of God is not being fit (saved) to enter heaven and escape hell...it is being fit (saved) to enter the kingdom of God in the earth and through His grace, loving people into God's Kingdom on the earth!
Many people die and will continue to die, never being fitted to enter the Kingdom of God on earth even though the cross-work of Christ took care of all their past, present and future sin. Their repentance...turning from their self-way to the way of Jesus (that doesn't necessarily mean repeating what is known as the "sinners prayer") is not out of reach because they have passed through death's door.