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The invitation of the Gospel…

June 13, 2007

Steve gave the following outline of how Orthodoxy would view the Gospel. 

1.  The world

a. God made it and put man in charge

b. Man tried to grab it and evil entered

2.  Sin and evil

a. Evil has gained a hold on us that we cannot break

b.  The world is now enemy-occupied territory

3.  God

a. Sent his son Jesus to break the hold of Satan and give us new life through his death and resurrection

b. Has established a liberated zone in the midst of the enemy-occupied territory

4.  The church

a.  Is called to be the liberated zone of the kingdom of God

b.  Is entered through renouncing our citizenship of the kingdom of Satan, and being “naturalised” as citizens of the kingdom of God by a new birth in water and the Spirit

5.  The end

a.  Ultimately evil will be completely defeated.

This view of the world, salvation, and eschatology is much more expansive and less dualistic than the juridical view of grace that influences the Gospel presented within much of Evangelical Christianity.  The emphasis in this latter stream is many times upon “getting people saved” so that they can “go to heaven when the die.”  So the presentation of the Gospel is reduced to a forensic view of grace, penal view of atonement (partially true) without looking at the whole of scale of redemption that God was undertaking through the incarnation–the redemption of all things in Christ. 

When words like “evangelism” and “leading others to Christ” and “presenting the Gospel” are used, they often are used without the sense of how the Gospel speaks not only to individuals, but to the human community and to all of creation.  So the invitation is to a way of life, responding to the saving work of God in Jesus Christ, and entering the church where the signs of the Kingdom of God should be made visible as we allow the Spirit to guide us in living the life Jesus lived and taught.  We do so imperfectly, but with a sense that we are moving toward the culmination of God’s kingdom of righteousness, joy and peace. 

So we are invited to seek the Kingdom of God, to engage the powers, to embrace the ascetic life of spiritual/physical (we must decrease, he must increase)–the language in Orthodoxy is ascesis that leads to theosis…in the Anabaptist tradition it is the language of discipleship–following Jesus in all of life.  This is salvation. 

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