The Relevantly Potent Gospel:
The Real Good News
By Frank A. DeCenso Jr.
Have some Christian fellowships substituted proclaiming
the presence and power of God with simple "seeker-sensitive"
sermons full of anecdotes and interesting stories, hoping to present
a "relevant" Christianity? Whatever happened to announcing,
"The kingdom of God is at hand,” and it can powerfully
affect your life?
Messages like “Ten Steps to Feel Better about Yourself”
and “How to Be a Happy <fill in the blank>”
may be popular and appear to deal with peoples' needs. They may
even fill the pews with "seekers" looking for something
better than what their earthly lives can provide. But are those
messages bringing real change to the recipients?
Jesus and the early church proclaimed what I term the relevantly
potent gospel – good news with demonstration of
God’s presence and kingdom power. This good news brought
the multitudes to Jesus because it was divinely potent and it
relevantly transformed their lives. Let's examine the relevantly
potent gospel by looking at its mission, message, and evidence.
A Relevantly Potent Mission
18"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."
There is nothing more relevant to an unbeliever than release
from captivity; healing of spirit, soul, and body; and freedom
from oppression. No amount of counseling will bring sight to blind
eyes; no anecdotally filled sermons can set at liberty the oppressed
– only the presence and power of God can bring the true
results people need. Jesus stated in Luke 4:21 that this passage,
quoted from Isaiah 61, was fulfilled in Him.
Therefore, His mission was not to counsel the hurting with pop
psychology to make folks feel better about themselves. His mission
required the release of divine power to meet the most profound
needs, and He has called us to the very same mission (John 14:12)
and to preach the very same gospel (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-18).
What is the gospel that Jesus brought and, as mandated, we are
to proclaim? It is simply this – that fallen, sinful man,
because of the propitiatory work of Jesus on the cross (Romans
3:23-26), can now enjoy forgiveness of sin and eternal fellowship
with God (1 John 1:3). This is an awesome privilege that nothing
other than the blood of the sinless Son of God, the Lamb of God,
could have provided (Hebrews 10:19-22). Jesus and His death and
resurrection have made it possible for mankind to enjoy eternal
communion with the Creator of the universe! All it takes is for
a person to come to Jesus in salvific belief (John 3:16-18) and
when that occurs, they enter into a new kingdom (Colossians 1:13),
the kingdom of God that is ever-present and ever-powerful.
Believe it or not: the good news doesn’t stop there –
although fellowship with God is the greatest gift and privilege
we have. The good news is also that God is more than capable and
willing to meet peoples’ most relevant needs with His power.
Wow! Eternal fellowship with God that starts now, and His awesome
power available to reach the greatest of possible needs today
– now that’s GOOD NEWS!
Copyright © 2005 by Frank A. DeCenso Jr.
All verses NKJV
Frank has been teaching the Bible in churches
and other venues for more than 20 years. He is currently the Ministry
Resources Director at Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Virginia
Beach, Va. He is an employee at Regent University in the Information
Technology Department. He is also the founder of Presence-Powered
Ministries. Frank is married and lives in Virginia Beach.
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