Jesus Died for More Than Just Our Sins
Three short words transform Jesus’ death from a human tragedy of epic proportions into The Day the Revolution Began, as N.T. Wright calls his 2016 book by the same name. Those three words are “for our sins.” Jesus died for our sins. When we truly come to grips with this, it’s nothing less than a full-blown encounter with the amazing grace of God Almighty! Many of the non-discipleship gospels that get preached today, however, make the gospel primarily about me. People who preach these me-centered “gospels” effectively rush through “the Jesus part” and focus on the “what’s in for me” part. I get forgiveness for my sin; I get to go to heaven when I die—it’s all about me. But the discipleship gospel isn’t about me; it’s about Jesus! It’s also about others, in the sense that if we truly follow Jesus, we will love others like Jesus loves us (John 13:34-35). False gospels are self-centered; the true gospel is others-focused.
This is an excerpt from The Discipleship Gospel (available in eBook and paperback). Get a discount by using code ‘TBP’ at checkout when you order here.
As we identify these me-centered gospels in The Discipleship Gospel, we’re not saying that the gospel doesn’t have massive implications for us. It does for sure—nothing less than the eternal salvation of our souls. We are simply seeking to resurrect the understanding that Christ’s gospel isn’t just about us as individuals; it’s about something grand and something with great, cosmic, and eternal implications that the me-centered gospel doesn’t even scratch. That grand and great thing is this: God is reconciling all things to Christ and establishing his eternal kingdom (Col. 1:20)!
Christ’s death secured our salvation to be sure, but it also paved the way for the redemption of the whole world. 1 John 2:2 teaches us that Christ’s atoning sacrifice was “not for our sins only but also for the sins of the whole world,” and Romans 8:22 tells us that “the whole creation” is groaning for the day of its redemption. Christ’s death is the catalyst for the restoration of God’s rule over all things in heaven and on earth, especially for those people who follow him.
This is the point at which we see God’s kingdom colliding with Christ’s death. Christ’s death broke open the floodgates of God’s kingdom-advancing work in the world. Through Christ’s death on the cross, God unleashed the power of the gospel to save, he sent the indwelling Holy Spirit to empower believers unto obedience, and Christ began building his church. Not only this, but Christ’s death also defeated Satan, conquered death, and smashed sin. This gives us a sense of what it means that the gospel is much bigger than me!
In this much broader context, we can understand the gospel’s declaration that Christ died for our sins. God is establishing an eternal kingdom in which his one and only son, Jesus Christ, is the focal point of all worship (Rev. 7:9-12). Our salvation is ultimately about him!
5. N.T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’ Crucifixion (New York: HarperOne, 2016).
6. We are not going to get into the theological depths of all these aspects of Christ’s cross here. There are plenty of good resources that do that, including John R. W. Stott’s The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1986).