Gospel means good new. The good news of Jesus was that he had come to save humankind from their own destruction. Sin is powerful and it was destroying humanity. Not only humanity but the environment. We are now well aware that humanity is not the only casualty of mans depravity. But the whole environment has suffered deeply and waits for restoration, just as man is looking for a time when he will be put right. The good news of Jesus is salvation has arrived.
One of the major problems with mans theology regarding salvation is that it is influenced by Greek or Platonic thinking. Salvation is nearly synonymous with escape. Salvation has become a way of escaping the destruction of the flesh as all flesh seems to be crumbling with all of nature, all or mans environment. Mans theology regarding God and his environment has been fatalistic. This too has its root in Platonic Greek Dualism. That God will allow the destruction of the earth until all is completely ravaged. But the good news of Jesus is that he was the ‘snake crusher’ that was spoken of in the garden before all of this crumbling began. He is here to put right what was put wrong beginning in Genesis chapter three.
The lens by which the Christian views his world is Platonic, or dualistic, or gnostic Christian. We need to remember that the good news is that Jesus coming was in part the commencing of his kingdom. Perhaps not in fullness but in part. That means that not everything had to do with souls being saved for heaven in the sky. But whole people being saved, whole nations being discipled, and the whole earth taking a big sigh of relief. All of creation is one step closer to redemption. Salvation is near not just for the human soul.
Finally, the gospel is not simply a message of salvation; it is a comprehensive worldview. It must not only move around the world, but it must penetrate and transform it.
Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, James and the other apostles did not simply give us a way to do what is narrowly seen today as “theology or doctrine” but they worked in communities to examine the cultural lenses of real people and help them live their lives based on truth that would transform individuals and communities. That is, they did not do “Modern evangelical theology” as we know it but they examined and challenged worldviews. They did this because God’s master plan was being unfolded from Christ, the plan was to redeem ‘whole communities’ starting with ‘whole people’.
The Great commission was to do all of this in the nations. They brought salvation, bot not the Platonic escapism. They brought salvation built on the idea that God had come to earth to transform it and that he came back from the grave to resurrect it. The disciples preached the good news of the resurrection which defied the dualism of the Greek worldview.
Discipling, transforming, and saving humanity begins with a biblical worldview.
Discipling, transforming, and creating communities begins with a biblical worldview.
Stewarding and nurturing nature begins with a biblical worldview.
Jesus’ kingdom coming to earth as laid out in the gospels is only the beginning. But it is the beginning of discipleship, transformation, salvation, of man, his community, and his environment.
What we do now to seek his kingdom will be part of the fullness of the kingdom of God when Jesus completes what he started.
That is part of the idea of the comprehensive nature of the biblical worldview. It has been Gods desire from the beginning to restore humanity, to restore creation, and restore family to its original place. This begins with the first sin, and continues with the coming of Jesus the Messiah, Gods son, initiating the kingdom of God on earth bringing salvation for mankind, for nations, and for all the earth. This will be completed later not with the destruction of the earth and the creation of heaven but with the recreation of heaven and earth.
Thus we begin to think like God about other people, about self, about nature. All of it is valuable and wonderful to God. All of it is in the grand scheme of Gods redemption. So we should treat nature, self, and communities with love and respect because God does.
My examination of western evangelicalism is that we have been very good at spreading the Platonic dualist gospel of Jesus around the world but we have not as often spread the holistic gospel of Jesus’ kingdom on earth as in heaven.
The good news for earth and everyone living on it is that God cares about its groans and pains and will one day restore it.