There is something about a well-crafted story that can so easily make you forget that it is a true story. Or perhaps, if you’re like me, you get so caught up in the theoretical implications that you forget it’s a true story. But in the first chapter of the “Message” portion of Church Planter, Darrin Patrick brings us back to this basic claim that makes all the difference in the world: the Christian Gospel is historical. It’s a true story. It REALLY happened.
The fact that a virgin, who’d never known a man, bore a son, is true.
The fact that the son she bore was God incarnate is true.
The fact that Jesus was fully God and fully man is true.
The fact that He never sinned is true.
The fact that He was crucified and tortured is true.
The fact that He died is true.
The fact that He rose from the dead is true.
Why is that important? Because if any bit of that weren’t true, it changes everything.
If Mary wasn’t a virgin, and Jesus was born of a man, then He couldn’t have been God.
If Jesus wasn’t God, then the story means nothing.
If Jesus sinned, then He wasn’t the perfect Sacrifice we needed.
If He wasn’t crucified, punished, and killed for us, then the debt for our sin isn’t paid.
If He didn’t rise again, we couldn’t rise again spiritually or physically.
And it’s my opinion that those facts are interconnected and build off of each other. For example, if Jesus wasn’t God, then He wouldn’t have been able to rise from the dead by the power of God. But since it’s a story, and since it’s a true story, then it stands apart from most if not all major religions in that the central teaching is not theoretical, nor does it involve our own efforts for salvation – but it’s news. It’s not insight or epiphany – it’s news.
And as such, it’s the job of the preacher, the pastor, the church planter to declare a message that is historical, and it must be presented and defended as such, because the historicity of the gospel is what makes it so unique.