As has been said in chapter 1, the gospel Jesus preached is the gospel of the kingdom of God, offering the present availability and access to a life in God now! This invitation has always been in view from the beginning of time, but now it’s made accessible to all in the person and message of Jesus Himself.
This gospel of the kingdom is the gospel.
Yet, as others in this book point out, it seems to me that we have substituted a reduced gospel that focuses solely on “forgiveness of sins and the assurance of heaven” as our present gospel appeal. But here’s the most obvious problem: This conversion-centered approach to the gospel has for many people been interpreted as a finish line or an ending, instead of a starting line or new beginning. This understanding has huge implications for how we live life now! If being forgiven and now having heaven assured is what it means to become a Christian, anything I do from there on is an add-on.
“Why talk to me about discipleship? Why do I need that? I’ve been forgiven. I’m already going to heaven. What more do I need to do?” But without foreseeing the consequences, this conversion-centered gospel has created a two-tiered reality for those in the evangelical church. Most people see themselves as Christians at the point of conversion, but the call to be a disciple is for many a second-level option, often reserved for the more serious Christian and notably absent from the conversion-centered gospel appeal. — Keith J. Matthews, “Chapter Three: The Transformational Process,” in The Kingdom Life: A Practical Theology of Discipleship and Spiritual Formation, ed. Alan Andrews (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2010), 88.
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