The RADIUS Initiative Applied, Part 5: What Is Holistic Gospel?
(This is part 5 of a series of posts that draw applications from my novella, The RADIUS Initiative. It’s a Jack Bauer-style, action-packed book! You can purchase the book here for only $7.99.)
The Gospel Lived Out
The gospel is a statement of fact, but it’s also a movement of action. They cannot be separated.
Christ eagerly met the physical, emotional, and, sometimes, material needs of people as well as their spiritual needs. He gives us the parable of the Good Samaritan and tells us to go and do likewise.
James tells us to put our faith to work. John says that we are not expressing the love of God if we withhold our goods to help those who need it.
Evangelism is telling someone the good news of Jesus. I am not convinced it should exclude social action, whether it is material, emotional, or the like. Christ is clearly just as concerned with our actions with lost people as He is with our words.
This gospel in action comes solely from a heart filled with the love of God eager to be shown to the lost person. The ingredients of the gospel include sacrifice, compassion, and love. To share those ingredients in word but withhold the deeds needed by the lost person does injustice to the Savior who owns the gospel.
It is clear that Christ was concerned for the whole person, which included the physical and not the spiritual alone. He fed the hungry, raised the dead, cured the diseased and blind and lame and mute. The Apostle Paul wrote time and time again for believers to be full of love, compassion, kindness, and gentleness.
Living out the gospel includes sharing the factual statement that Christ died for our sin and rose from the dead and persuading the unbeliever to believe in Christ, alone. Our actions of good deeds and words of explaining the gospel are not two separate items, because it is the character of Christ to love the whole person.
The character of the mission of the Church must be determined by the character of the mission of the Christ. The results of the sent Christ in relation to the people with whom He came in contact are no different than what the results of His Body should be. He cared for the whole man, and He brought healing to its entirety. His Church, of whom He is the Head, must be of the same character.
This is “holistic gospel.” This is being missional. It’s not about programs, but about a way of life—a life that characterizes the life of Christ on earth. After all, that’s exactly what we are. When the Body of Christ loves the whole lost person, we are delivering the gospel in all its glory. The mission of the Church has not changed since its conception nearly 2,000 years ago.
To live a Christlike life is to sacrifice oneself to share the holistic gospel: loving in word (sharing that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead) and in deed (meeting the needs of people out of a loving heart). This is out of the ordinary.
As my good friend and worship pastor, Robin, puts it, it’s living life above the common.
Question: How have you seen the gospel lived out in your community and beyond? Slap me some feedback!