1 John and the Missio Dei

As I was reading through 1 John it was good to be reminded by the Apostle of love himself why God sent his son into the world. Consider the following:

2:1-2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

3:8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.

4:9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

4:10 This love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

This is interesting to me because it seems that when there is talk of what is “the gospel,” i.e., the good news, we seem to dance all around the real issue, what is the heart of the matter as to why Jesus came into the world.

I realize too this is not an exhaustive biblical theology explicating the “missio dei,” or the mission of God in this world. At the same time however, I think careful scrutiny can show that the Apostle John, himself a Jew and a citizen of Israel, gets right to the heart of the matter: Jesus came to save us from our sins.

I understand the King Jesus Gospel encompases far more than just the cross of Christ but my concern is that in the quest to define and explain “the gospel,” the centrality of the cross is losing its rightful place as the core central front and center element of the gospel. I worry it is becoming an “at risk” issue, a footnote, a happenstance, a parenthetical comment, just another item on the list of reasons God sent his Son into the world.

Here, in 1 John, we see the heart of the matter, and in many ways “What Saint John Really Said.” 🙂 What is the heart of the matter? Jesus Christ came to save sinners.

Why do we have to dance around this core issue? When we make the cross of Christ a sidebar or footnote, a happenstance, we empty the cross of its power. And that is a dangerous thing. We must be careful not to put in the background what the Scriptures themselves put out front and center.

But I can hear it now, “Brian, you make much ado about nothing. You are arguing a strawman. The cross is not front and center, Jesus Christ is front and center. Yes, he died on he cross and rose again and in so doing saved us from our sins and that is important but there is so much more wrapped up in the gospel than just that! There is the inbreaking of the Kingdom, the grand victorious announcement that the King has come to bring his Kingdom and that Jesus is indeed Israel’s Messiah!”

Ah yes, to which I would reply, these truths, these grand redemptive narrative truths, would not be possible were it not for the work of Christ on the Cross.

Blessings!  Feel free to let me know your reactions to my comments.

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