Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Four-Fold Gospel

It would be hard to place myself into any one camp among the multitude of varieties of Christian Faith.  I have a Baptist background.  I have an uncle who is a Baptist Minister.  I have a brother who is Eastern Orthodox.  I have gone to fundamentalist churches growing up.  I went to a Baptist College and also a Christian and Missionary Alliance College.  I currently go to a Non-Denominational Church.  If I were placed in a corner and force to choose, then I would mostly closely lean toward the Christian and Missionary Alliance.  A.B. Simpson founded this organization late in the last century.  He never meant to form a new denomination.  In fact, for many years the organization never took on the form of an actual denomination.  He preached a four-fold gospel.  It was not a new gospel, but a greater explanation of all that Christ is to us in this world.  I believe it is beautiful in its simplicity.  I would like to take a few moments to explain what this four-fold gospel means to me.

Christ as Savior: Christ is the only answer to the desperate situation in which we find ourselves.  We are forever alienated from a Holy God.  We can not please him in anything we do.  There is nothing that we can do in our own strength to gain his favor.  He is too Holy, and we are too evil.  We were born in a state of sin.  We inherited a sinful nature from our first father, Adam.  No matter how good we try to do, it is but rags to the Holy God who we are trying to please.  Christ being fully man, and at the same time fully God, came to earth to give his life as a ransom for sin.  Through his death we are forever reconciled back to God.  He has bridged the divide that we have desperately tried to bridge on our own.  He is the only one who can save us from our sins, and reunite us to our Creator.

Christ as Sanctifier: God, through Christ, accepts us exactly where we are.  He loves us too much to leave us there.  When we submit ourselves to him in faith, then he begins the process of setting us aside from among other men.  He takes us as we are and begins the process of transforming us to be more Christlike.  Through his Spirit, we are conformed to the image of Him.  He has crucified our old sinful nature,  and has replaced it with Christ.  As we follow him we are made to see the world as he does.  We see our fellow-men in the same way that Christ does.  This is not a secondary act of Salvation, because we have already been reconciled to God.  This is an act of mercy through God to transform our lives and character to make us more like Himself.

Christ as Healer:  Christ for body as well as the soul.  Christ said that he is the Great Physician.  God is forever himself.  If he has healed the sick in the past, then he can heal the sick today.  This is not a spectacle as some have made it.  Believers should approach God in faith and may be healed of their afflictions.  It should be something that only brings glory to God.  James says that if anyone is sick, that they should come to the Elders of the church to be anointed with oil.  When I was young, my sister was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis.  I remember our church anointed her.  It was a new thing for this particular church.  Humorously, I believe it was Wesson cooking oil.  We prayed that God would heal her of this illness.  The doctors said that she may never finish high school.  They said she would certainly never have children.  She is now in her thirties.  She has four children.  The doctor's claimed she must have been misdiagnosed.  I know the truth.  The prayer of a righteous man availeth much!  Praise God.  Christ is our healer!

Christ as our Coming King: In the fall of man, all of creation was cursed.  Nothing is as God had intended in creation.  There is a day coming when Christ will return to this earth, and set all things right.  He will reconcile all of creation to himself.  We look forward to this glorious day.  No one knows the day or the hour.  He will come like a thief in the night.  We look forward and behave as though it could be at any minute.  We must busy ourselves with his work.  It would be a great tragedy to be found involved in frivolous activities at the coming of Christ.  We wait anxiously.  All of creation moans and groans in anticipation of their coming redemption!

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