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A Call for Authentic Christianity in the Presentation of the Whole Gospel
by Dale Moreau I
Introductory materials. 1. Religions depend on a variety of means to win adherents. 2. The means of various religions to win followers differ from claims of supernatural powers, future rewards, threats of punishment, and powers of taboo to even the open sword. 3. Christianity is more ingenious than other religions in winning converts because it relies on the winsomeness of the moral character of God in Jesus Christ to elicit a response from the non-believing world (Jn. 12:32).
II The whole Gospel. 1. The presentation of the Christian Gospel is in the deathless loyalty and unity that is achieved by the presentation of the beauty of God’s moral character. A. God’s moral character is in His harmonious union of unconditional love, unconditional forgiveness, unconditional acceptance, servanthood, utter-selfgiving, other-centeredness, fidelity to His own moral character and love-wrath. 1). Righteous love. A). This means God’s love is right and just and nothing that is outside of this love is right and just. B). Because His love is right, it seeks out men to make them into being right with His love that acts in being a refining fire that seeks to make men into being holy or whole. C). There are three facets of God’s righteous love. i. Unconditional love. a. God’s love seeks in placing a person to be the center of His attention, life and love.
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b. God’s love makes one into being fit and capable of becoming a partner with Him in the restoration and redemption on a cosmic scale of all creation that is in Heaven and upon earth. ii. Unconditional acceptance. a. God attaches Himself to humanity through the incarnation on an eternal scale and nothing can drive away His acceptance of being flesh forever. b. Because God attaches Himself to man through the incarnation, God no longer has time for Himself but is relentlessly pursuing men through the identification of His humanity with men. iii. Unconditional forgiveness. a. The unconditional forgiveness of God is in His ability of removing the barriers of self-life in order for us to freely choose Him for the sheer beauty and worth of His moral being apart from rewards of Heaven and punishment in Hell. b. God’s unconditional forgiveness declares sin to be an outlaw and seeks to eradicate it and yet accept the person without conditions. c. Because God has already forgiveness us before we forgave ourselves, it makes it possible to be accepting by Him without earning it, creating the possibility for God’s grace through His people into making all things to abound with fresh possibilities. d. Because God’s unconditional forgiveness has been accomplished for man before accepting it, one has no need to earn it but gladly receive it after all, if He has already forgiven you, then why must you earn something that is already done for you without asking anything from you? 2). Servanthood.
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A). God’s moral nature causes the Son to give up equality with the Father and Spirit by emptying Himself of the divine attributes to become the essence of a slave to man. B). The nature of a slave is to put the interests and welfare of his master to be above his own self-interests. C). The servanthood of God places creation’s welfare in being above His own. D). God’s purpose through Christ is to make the saints into being servants to the world. 3). Other-centeredness. A). God makes His creation to be worthy and glorious while He stands in back of shadows by never seeking glory for Himself. B). God’s thoughts, actions, and concerns are centered upon His fallen creation rather than upon His own self-interests. C). God’s other-centeredness not only places His concerns and attention on His fallen creation rather than upon Himself but also holds them in being accountable to accomplish great things. 4). Utter-self-giving. A). God loves, serves, ministers to and pours out His life on fallen creation while in knowing there will never be any response to or gratitude for what He is doing for the created world. B). God’s utter-self-giving is in the supreme sacrifice of selfsurrender to creation without conditions. 5). God’s fidelity to His moral being. A). God is absolutely faithful and truthful to His moral character. B). Because God is truly faithful to His moral nature, He never acts capriciously or arbitrarily but rather directs His wisdom, speech and actions to His creation though they continue to reject and sin against Him. 6). Love-wrath and the anger of God.
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A). God’s love-wrath is in His ability to shield creation from evil by surgically removing it. i. God’s love-wrath is principled into the fabric of creation. ii. All who follow and live in harmony with God’s moral character within the created order will be upheld, sustained and grow. iii. All who do not follow and live in harmony with God’s moral character will be unsustain by the moral decay and deterioration of the fabric of his own moral being – the eternal progressive deterioration of one’s moral character. B). The anger of God is akin to but different than His love-wrath. i. God’s anger is in His insight into the violation of His moral being by the deliberations of men and the awakening of them to the error of their ways in order for them to make correction of their course in life. ii. God’s anger is in His love that seeks to chastise men to correct and heal that which is wrong within them rather than to destroy. B. Old and New Testament insights into the moral character of God. 1). Old Testament. A). In Exodus 34:6-7 God reveals His moral character in three aspects to Moses.. i. First, there is love in which He is merciful and gracious, revealing His love by even forgiving the rebellious. ii. Second, God is truth or faithful to Himself, to His own moral character. iii. Third, God reveals His righteousness where He simply will not write off man’s guilt but will make a way through the suffering of the innocent for the guilty (vicarious suffering). B). All three aspects of God’s moral character in Exodus 34:6-7 are in harmonious union with each other and amount to God’s holiness (wholeness and uniqueness).
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i. God’s Moral Character is in Love + Truth + Righteousness = HOLINESS (wholeness and uniqueness that makes God to be different from all else). a. His holiness is a love that will not let you go. b. His holiness is thought in terms of the fire that warms is also the fire that burns (love-wrath and the anger of God). ii. When Moses understood the real moral nature of God, he bowed down and worshipped before such infinite beauty. iii. God is righteous-love in faithfulness to His moral being and engages the unfit to make them into being whole and unique from all else. 2). The New Testament. A). In the incarnation of Christ, Jesus reveals all three aspects of God’s moral character that was given to Moses in Exodus 34:67 but adds some additional insights that were unknown in the Old Testament. B). Jesus reveals His moral character to be the exact duplicate of His Father who is in Heaven. i. Jesus Christ’s moral nature is in the harmonious blend of righteous-love, faithfulness to His moral being, the uniqueness that belongs to God the Father and the Spirit in each one’s moral character through the Son, servanthood, utter-self-giving, and other-centeredness. a. What Jesus added to the revelation of God’s moral being of righteous-love is in the unconditional nature with which it is given. b. God’s righteous-love is unconditionally given through his love for others, His forgiveness of sin and acceptance of all who cross His path. c. His love is unconditionally given like a refining fire.
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d. His love is a very damning thing to those who cannot stand God by rejecting Him. C). Philippians 2:7 reveals Jesus’ servant nature in which He became the essence of a slave. i. The essence of a slave is to put the interest and welfare of his/her master to be above his/her own. ii. Jesus places man to be above His own self-interests. D). His other-centeredness is seen in the flowing out of His life to others with no regard of the response and worth of its recipients. i. Rich and poor, young and old and all varieties of men and women received His other-centeredness without regard to their position, status, and age. ii. Jesus embodied such other-centeredness that it nailed Him onto a cross. E). Jesus’ utter-self-giving is in His faithfulness to His moral character and being to make men into Godlikeness regardless with what appears to be failure in eliciting the desired result from individuals. i. Unbeknownst to men, the real failure is not in Jesus’ failure to form men after the moral pattern of His divine character but in men’s rejection of Him. ii. His utter-self-giving is the outflow of all His moral character into the hearts of men regardless of who they are in life. 3). The moral character of God is the unchangeable absolute that provides certainty and upon which the whole of reality is built, rendering His moral nature in being the eternal fixed and certain reality which will never fade away. C. The whole Gospel is in the proper insight into what Christianity means to God and the presentation of the Gospel on the beauty and winsomeness of the moral being of God in Christ.
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2. The whole Gospel comes to essentially depend upon the factor of beauty to draw all people to God while the partial Gospel is impelled to add a variety of pressures to win decisions. A. The absolute proof of what the whole Gospel can do that is far better than in a partial Gospel is in the outcome of its presentation. 1). When the whole Gospel is presented and Godliness appears in men and women who take the challenge of becoming like God is God in His moral character, then the whole Gospel is validated in being true. 2). The Scriptures indicate God resolves to save persons through the sheer folly of the Christian message (I Cor. 1:21) rather than by the wisdom of man-centered methods to win allegiance. B. The whole Gospel begins with and rests eternally upon the revealed moral character of God rather than predominately upon His power. III The heart of the whole Gospel. 1. God’s moral character gives a particular distinctiveness to the Gospel by coloring every facet of it. A. God’s moral character is essentially in the perfect harmony of His unconditional love, His wise servanthood, His complete other-centeredness and His absolute fidelity to His character in the face of known failures to win response. B. This is perfectly demonstrated in Jesus Christ. 2. If one begins with the eternal certainty of God’s moral nature and reckons all reality is supported by and impenetrate by this life, then he cannot but perceive the believer is to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29-30). A. The believer’s salvation rests upon the permanent union of the moral character of God within the inner moral being of his own life. B. If any version of Christianity misses the necessity of the union of God’s moral nature within the moral being of the Christian’s life, then it exists inconsistently with God and His purpose for men. C. There is no Pantheism or Gnosticism in the whole Gospel of the sharing of God’s moral nature with men because it is God who creates sons unto Himself. 3. The key to understanding the whole Gospel lies in the moral character of God.
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A. The defining of the whole Gospel by the moral character of God is the premise on which the purpose of creation and the meaning of man are given. 1). Godâ€™s utter-self-giving is in the sharing of His life with the sons of Abraham and working through them in healing of the rift in the eternal (God in Christ is unifying all things in heaven and on earth Col. 1:30). 2). To share His moral life with the sons of Abraham constitutes a change in the equality of each person of the Godhead with the other. A). It is an awesome concept to understand the price of the Godhead in its reordering into the roles of the Father, Son and Spirit to accomplish the plan of the ages of healing the rift of the eternal (Jn. 1:15; Phil. 2:5-11; Heb. 1:2-14). B). The self-giving of the divine moral nature to men through the reordering of the Godhead into the roles of the Trinity is the heart of the whole Gospel and introduces one to what Christianity means to God. B. Any version of Christianity that misses or evades the intent of Godlikeness in believers to be fitted in partnering with Christ for remaking the cosmos into the unity that was once part of its makeup before sin must be part of a partial Gospel. IV The essence of the partial Gospel. 1. When the moral character of God is not central in the Gospel, man inevitably is placed at the center where the crux of Christianity is in the emphasis on the solution of his sins, needs and security while Godlikeness goes unnoticed or is downplayed to have no weight on manâ€™s inner life. 2. Human personality requires an adequate center that is outside of itself to draw out and fulfill the infinite potential of personhood from within. A. A partial Gospel relies on a water-down version of the union of Humanism with Christianity to fulfill human worth and personality by encouraging them to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps without acknowledging the disease of sin that hinders any possible self-growth from within. B. If men cannot be delivered from the thralldom of self-life and self-centeredness, a crippling effect will appear in all aspects of his spiritual life. 1). The perspective of eternity becomes narrowed down to what directly involves manâ€™s security in heaven while whatever is above and beyond becomes secondary.
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2). The atonement and death of Jesus Christ tend to be reduced into being reconciliation between God and man rather than into being God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (II Cor. 5:19). 3). Evil and sinful beings are seen more in being the enemies of God to be defeated rather than in being diseased beings that are in a dreadful plight that requires aid from the Christian world to cure the disease of sin. 4). Men are reduced into being pawns of the conflict that goes between God and Satan rather than in being laborers with God in the unifying of all things in heaven and on earth that have been rift by sin. 5). Legalism plagues the Christian in submerged or open form and waters down pure grace. 6). The involvement of God with humanity through the incarnation is directed toward saving the elect from out of the world rather than into making them to be servants of the world. 7). The understanding and meaning of the love of God is reduced to being conditional rather than in being unconditional and redemptive. 8). The sheer beauty of what God has done in Christ does not grip the soul and its wonderment is abandoned to external pressures to gain allegiance. V Implications concerning the nature of the spiritual realm. 1. It is well accepted in the fields of religious, psychological and behavioral studies that a personâ€™s inner value system and posture have direct affect with what is and how one defines reality. A. This is evident in what and how one interprets the data that is presented in the Scriptures. B. It is further apparent in the everyday lives of people who are in places of power and in their values that affect the multiplicity of decisions that are poorly or greatly made on behalf of a nation. 2. The principles and the value systems of the spiritual are woven into the nature of the physical world and await for the Christian discoverer, inventor and adventurer to bring them into the world of men to bless them.
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3. An illustration is seen in the physical scientist who discovers and utilizes the physical laws to improve human life via electricity, aero-dynamics and countless achievements in technology. Spiritual Insights of the Whole Gospel The reordering of the Godhead into the roles of the Trinity is seen in the awesome wonder of divine self-giving. The unity-in-diversity of Three Persons who are in one moral character reveals eternal life is a quality that is vastly greater than man’s life that is without end. The unity-in-diversity eternal life of the Godhead is fresh, creative, and open-ended and without plateaus that lead to boredom and the best is yet to come. The eternal life of the Godhead is in its own reward of living and independent of its surroundings. The unity-in-diversity life of the Trinity is the pattern for humanity. The pattern for humanity is in community in which endless potential for mankind is found.
Spiritual Insights of the Partial Gospel The concept of the reordering of the Godhead into the roles of the Trinity is alien and unnecessary in the partial Gospel. The mystery of the Trinity does not usually lead into insight concerning unity and community in mankind but leans toward conformity and order that is brought about by power. Eternal life is more easily acceptable to be happiness and eternal contentment rather than Godlikeness. God is strangely excluded from the physical realm and any future improvement of society seems dim and often hopeless. The idea of the Kingdom of Heaven which was proclaimed by Jesus is centered on a spiritual order that is essentially separated from the physical and little of this world is related to it.
Whatever moves mankind into community will bring blessings to all men.
Sin is distinguished from sins and should be recognized to be the perverter of God’s good creation.
Sins are very often identified to be the plural of sin and conceived in being the acts of disobedience.
Nothing less than the cutting of the tap-root of sin by the infusion of God’s moral character into the
Being saved from one’s sins usually is considered to be the heart of salvation with complete deliverance
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believer will suffice for salvation.
to take place in the resurrection of the believer.
The greatest sin is to know God loves us in unconditional love and we are not able to love Him back in the same intensity and quality.
Heaven is not static but the arena of endless growth and eternally new adventures; immortality is a continuation in heaven of the pilgrimage that was begun on earth by the saint.
Heaven easily becomes a static place of eternal rest and dwelling in Godâ€™s riches and the emphasis often lies in the negation of what happens on earth through the preaching of no tears, sorrow, sinfulness or separation. Immortality has a pronounced distinctiveness and different order than a quality of life that is experienced in the flesh.
The whole Gospel is in the presentation of the living Christ who is the real Lord of the world and relentlessly presses His claims of sovereignty upon all things through the presentation of His sheer worth and beauty rather than by the pressures of power. The believer who understands this kind of sovereignty and loves it will ultimately accept Christâ€™s offer of partnership with Him in His enterprise (Jn. 17:18). The Lordship of Christ is not a prison but is liberating because to submit to a proper authority will truly set one into being free. Glad obedience to an authority that radiates from the moral character of God becomes the doorway to freedom and fulfillment.
Jesus appears to be alien in the world and yet His saviorhood seems to be the practical value in which one can trust to receive forgiveness, reconciliation, security and ultimate perfection after the resurrection of the believers. The Lordship of Christ in among church people fades many times into an inane and vague concept.
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The strategy of serving the world is in penetration rather than in manipulation.
Rewards, gratitude and sense of duty become the main motivations for service.
Christ produces Godlike people who involve themselves into the world and become Courteous Rebels that infuse spiritual values into the flow of humanity. Morality, economics and institutional life is permeated with the spiritual values of the Courteous Rebel.
The main task of the believer is in getting as many lost people as is possible to be saved with little hope in the improvement of society.
No utopias are envisioned but progress toward the leavening of society is. Our world is accepted in being the arena for the production of sons of God and becomes a welcome and meaningful place in which to live.
Christ’s Methods to Achieve His Mission in the Presentation of the Whole Gospel
A general tendency appears in which the believer is withdrawn from the sinful world and builds sheltered refuges that are isolated from the hurt and ugliness of the external world. The believer may develop a divided life in which one part is fitted for church service while the other adapts to the world, compromising His beliefs in Christ with that of the worlds.
Christ’s Methods to Achieve His Mission in the Presentation of the Partial Gospel
Jesus begins with the teachable and calls men to a discipleship in which He can discipline believers into Godlikeness.
It is difficult for the man-centered versions of Christianity to accept Jesus’ call to discipleship without some reservations.
He accepted many unworthy persons who were teachable while rejecting many moral people who were and his method became a scandal of His day but His wisdom in this method has long been justified.
If one trusts Christ for his own selfish gain, needs and security and feels these are guaranteed by Him, it is difficult for one to see much necessity for anything that goes beyond these things.
The discipleship of Jesus is the key in one becoming a Christian and when it is denied, the whole process of becoming a Christian is aborted.
Gratitude, sense of duty and rewards may furnish some motivation but rarely is enough to learn those lessons that cut painfully across the grain of one’s life.
Moral goodness is no substitute for teachableness because it is in the poor
In place of these non-motivational
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in spirit or the teachable who possess the Kingdom of God. The necessity of being teachable and having discipleship must never be watered-down because this is the sensitive and decisive point in the presentation of the whole Gospel. The heart becomes teachable when it finds a value that enthralls it and awakens the responsiveness of faith in the entire person. This is not done from the perspective of self-life, self-interest or some selfcenteredness in the enticement of a reward-punishment motif but only comes when the heart loves the value more than it loves itself. The beauty of Christ that is freely chosen by the believer is the essence of teachableness rather than in some self-centered enticement. Real repentance and faith become a way of life from the teachable and is the way of the Great Commission in making willing learners (Matt. 28:1620) Jesus lifts guilt and frees man to the level of personhood that allows him with the freedom of choice. This may seem to be an impractical and risky venture but soon one understands it is necessary if one is to create the unity of free beings.
Brokenness before God (Rom. 7:1525) and acknowledgement of one’s spiritual bankruptcy are profound
means to discipleship in the partial Gospel, second best procedures may be adopted in which one comprehends repentance and faith to be relevant to one’s own significance, leading to a change in one’s moral conduct and a trust in Christ that reduces Him to be one’s savior without being one’s Lord and Master. However, even this water-downed incentive may not break up the hardpain of self-life that resists any teachings that may threaten its existence. In the man-centered versions of Christianity, the head gives assent to something in being true while the heart continues in rebellion against or indifference with what the head has accepted. This causes one in feeling safe and secure but comparatively uninvolved in the pilgrimage into Godlikeness. Invariably, the inadequacy of the partial Gospel helps one to see why so many sub-normal Christians are to be found. It is very difficult in the partial Gospel for guilt, directly or indirectly, to not be used in motivating believers into doing church services. The partial Gospel shows its inadequacy in so much use of guilt that flies in the face of the fact that Christ came to lift guilt. Much genuine insight into the real worth and beauty of brokenness before God and acknowledgment of
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growing conditions into Godlikeness. These two growing conditions is not in the shattering of one’s life into a sense of worthlessness but one sees the true nature of sin’s power within and cries out from one’s depth for God’s grace to remake this person from within. Brokenness before God and acknowledging one’s spiritual bankruptcy are teachableness that is raised to a most effective level in among men. Growth within koinonia-fellowship is a distinct part of Christ’s discipleship. The unity which was created by Christ in the Body of Christ is a family quality that requires a caring brotherhood/sisterhood in the family of God. In koinonia-fellowship one’s gifts can be discovered, matured and freely given to become a river of living water that flows from within and out into the world. There seems to be little real vitality in among Christians apart from the reality of true koinonia-fellowship. The hallmarks of koinonia-fellowship are the God-kind of love and unity in among the family of God.
Jesus uses grace in being a means to an end and not an end in itself.
one’s spiritual bankruptcy is strangely missing in the presentation of the partial Gospel. Blindness to this insight seems to obtain in many faithful church people that result in church people who are morally good but unloving and lacking the winsomeness that is found in the spiritual broken believer.
Koinonia-fellowship in the partial Gospel is tragically missing in its presentation. In a church wherein the partial Gospel is supreme there seems to be a tragic void of koinonia-fellowship in its people. In those churches wherein the partial Gospel is preached and wherein some within the church desire koinoniafellowship, there is a strange divide between the good moral people and those who desire true God-like fellowship that cannot be united. Formality and excellent church programs do not become substitutes for koinonia-fellowship. The inability to create koinoniafellowship should be the occasion for alarm in among those who preach and believe in a partial Gospel.
The partial Gospel seems intent on making God’s grace into being an end in itself within the believer.
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As one experiences the security with which God’s grace affords, one can come to see Christ in His beauty apart from and without using the eyes of self-life to discolor one’s choice for Him to be above one’s own life. In God’s grace, one’s posture is in the acceptance of Christ’s offer of partnership with Him in His enterprise of unifying all things in heaven and earth that have been rift by sin.
Whatever is beyond God’s grace in saving one from his/her sins is incidental to the higher purpose of God’s grace. To limit God’s grace in the saving of one’s soul is futile to expect churches to claim their servanthood to God’s world.
This enterprise of God is to be the dominant value in one’s life. The sovereignty of Jesus Christ in one who freely and gladly chooses and submits himself to it is the hope of the churches in becoming God’s servants to His world. 4. The mature believer who can become Christ’s partner with Him in His enterprise. A. This person is beautifully described in the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3-12). B. There is unity of these value-traits in the Beatitudes that equip one with inner resources to meet life with zestful competency. 1). These value traits are: A). Teachableness, B). Loving involvement in the world’s hurts and pains; C). Responsive to God as Father, D). Longing for the strength of Godlikeness, E). Seeking to give a fair chance at life to all men, F). The true servant heart,
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G). Gift of creating unity and peace, and, H). Courageous righteousness and vicarious suffering. 2). The ethics of the Sermon on the Mount picture how such men may live in a sin marred world. A). Such men do become salt-light when scattered throughout humanity. B). Jesus evidently thought that such followers could be produced in His enterprise and the whole Gospel presentation offers hope of this accomplishment. C). The Apostle Paul was a pilgrim into this prize of the high calling of God in Christ and calls on all who are mature to have this attitude (Phil. 3:7-16). 5. The kind of climate in a church that could foster dialogue over the whole and partial Gospels. A. The issues that are raised between the contrasts of the whole and partial Gospels could erupt into acute and divisive conflict within churches. B. There is a need for a climate which could make dialogue and communication into being a creative experience. 1). Two conditions must be made to foster an environment that allows one to pursue truth. A). The first condition is in a common acceptance in among the people to seek out answers from the questions of new challenges. B). The second condition is in an agreement in among the church people that truth is greater in oneâ€™s life than a lie. C). If both of these conditions can be met then dialogue in the pursuit of truth can be made. 2). A practical exercise that could help in eliminating friction between the many different ideas of what Christianity means to God might be found in the beauty and meaning of the tithe.
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A). Most members see the tithe in being a means to finance the church while overlooking the spiritual value of its real meaning from the Old and New Testaments. B). The purpose of the tithe is to teach the real meaning of oneâ€™s ownership of property. C). The tithe teaches that ownership of property does not belong to any one individual but belongs to God only. D). Property is owned by God who lends us with what we possess because He created all things, especially any property with which we have for our use. E). God lends material things to us but we do not own it and the tithe is to remind us of who really owns the material world. F). Would achievement in the meaning of the tithe foster dialogue? i. There are many reasons to believe the challenge of the tithe could serve all believers and open the door to greater truth. ii. Such a method is Scriptural and practical.