The Gospel of: Beauty, Goodness and Truth; Beauty!
What’s your story? Everybody has a story? When we think of our story, we usually think about where we grew up, the High School you graduated from, the work you do and getting married, your children etc. That’s a very important story. I wish I knew all of your stories.
Let me push this in a certain direction. What is the story that is guiding your life? What is influencing you the most right now? What is the big God story that you have? Does the story help guide you, and tell you who you are? What’s your purpose in life? What you want to do? You have to think about these things. You are driven to find some answers!
Once we adopt a certain story it begins to live in us, it has the power to move us, shape us to change us.
Now it would seem to me that many people in the church have or have had, a Fear based story. We came to the Lord, because we were burdened by sin and needed a Savior. We wanted to be spared the wrath of God and avoid being sent to Hell.
Part of this Fear based story is true. The substitutionary death and atonement of Jesus Christ is necessary. You and I need to be reconciled to God. But there is another way to tell the story. The Fear based story, or shall I say gospel, tends to leave people with guilt and shame, they worry that their salvation is incomplete, have I done enough, am I good enough and they are robbed of the joy of their salvation!
Let me be clear, Jesus willingly, lovingly died in your place. His perfect life was the perfect sacrifice for sin. Only a life without sin could atone for the sin of the whole world. So, a belief and understanding of the substitutionary death and atonement is a necessary part of the story.
But, “just as one puzzle piece cannot reveal the whole puzzle, so one part cannot tell the whole story.” If you say: “Substitutionary atonement is the gospel” you are missing something of the story; and then it becomes too easily distorted!
What are some signs that it has been distorted? #1. The Fear based story starts with sin. You are a sinner. But the story should start with God. #2. If the story starts with sin--it makes sin the primary problem --then it almost always puts God, the Father at odds with God the Son. Somehow in this story God the Father is viewed as a Holy and Righteous God, all powerful who is eager to pour out His wrath on sin--not always portrayed in a favorable light. Jesus on the other hand is usually is portrayed as compassionate, self-sacrificing, lovable, approachable.
John 14:9 “He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
The only answer to what God is like is Jesus; any other answer would be wrong.
What if the story is a “Loved Based story?” Here is a very simple definition of Love, Love is to will and act for the good of another person!” To give your life to the story, the Gospel, it needs to have Beauty, Goodness and Truth! That is the story worth sharing, and that is the story worth living into it!
What is Beauty? Thomas Aquinas said, “Beauty is a mystery. Beauty is that which when we see it, and experience it, it is pleasing.” Beauty makes us say; “Wow!” Goodness makes us say: “Thanks!” Bene is Latin for good, in the Latin, bene is benefit: it makes us whole, it improves us, so, when we encounter goodness we say: Thank you! Then truth is aligned with reality. You can count on truth. It works, so when you interact with truth, we say: “Yes!”
God is not mad at you. God is not angry with you. God is in love with you. The Love Story begins in Genesis with Creation. Everything that God created was pronounced “Good.” You can look in several translations and discover that the word “Beauty” doesn’t appear very often, instead what we find is Glory. Glory is beauty, goodness and power and truth combined!
Look at a sunrise or sunset and see the beauty.
PICTURE OF SUNFLOWERS: A picture of creation has form--that is God reaching out to touch you and me with His glory. Glory is beauty, goodness, power and truth catching your attention.
Beauty can be defined as “Goodness made manifest to the senses.” a quote from Dallas Willard. Romans One declares that God is clearly visible in what He has created.
I hope that you can agree with me, that beauty is for our benefit. We don’t have to have beauty. When a gifted musician like Sue or Evelyn play a beautiful piece, they are not hitting sacred keys and sacred notes. There are no sacred notes and secular notes, but when a trained and gifted musician puts them together--it can be very moving and beneficial to our worship. I felt something. I was moved--it was good; beauty leads to goodness. We will talk about goodness next time.
Let’s look at Romans 8:
Romans 8:1“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Do you hear in that verse, the love of God? There is no judgement or wrath waiting for those who are in Christ Jesus. If you are a true Believer, a child of God, your war with God is over. You have no need to fear sin or death, judgement or wrath for yourself. God has redeemed you and paid the penalty for your sin.
Romans 8:3-4 “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
These two verses talk about God sending his Son, Jesus, to meet the Laws demand, to be the perfect sacrifice, a life without sin. This is the substitutionary atonement that is necessary for the Gospel.” Now we who are in Christ, are born again. We can choose to walk according to the Spirit and have life.
Romans 8:6 “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
If you choose to remain a slave to sin--then the life of the flesh seems more comfortable, safe, then you fall into the trap of trying to work out your own salvation. But if you let the grace of God and the new birth in the Spirit take hold of you-and you grow and are led by the Spirit- that leads to life and peace. It takes time to learn to yield to the Spirit’s prompting. Let the beauty of the new life God is offering you compel you to continue to seek Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:14-16 “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God,”
I want you to believe that as Children of God, God the Father lavishes His steadfast love and faithfulness upon His Children. This is not the Fear based story, but the Gospel based on Love.
You have been adopted into the family of God. There is no condemnation. But there is more.
Romans 8:17 “and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Paul tells us that we, the children of God are fellow heirs with Christ Jesus, we shall share in his kingdom and can expect an inheritance. Provided that we suffer with him! Now consider, verse 16, told us that the Holy spirit testifies to our spirit that we are children of God. The Holy Spirit resonates with our spirit, bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God. It declares our adoption, it celebrates when we say, “Jesus is Lord”, it prompts us to cry out “Abba Father!”
You get the connection. We are not alone; the Spirit of God lives in you. God wants you to rejoice that you are a child of God and a joint heir with Jesus. What we will inherit far out ways, what we might suffer between now and the time of our glorification! Our present suffering does not compare to what we will receive in glory! That is God’s love for you and that is God’s promise!
One more thing I want to share:
Romans 8:35 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”
Who or what can separate us from the unfailing, never ending love of Christ? Is there anything that you are afraid of that could put a division between you and Jesus Christ. No. Not anything can cause Jesus to stop loving you!
Romans 8:37 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
Romans 8:38-39“For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The beauty of God’s holiness, righteousness and love all working together is a story with the power to change our lives. This is a story worth telling. This is the story I want guiding my life.
May God bless you,