By Les Henson,
For Paul one of key elements of his participation in the missio Dei, the mission of God was his passion to bring salvation to the world. Ever since his encounter with the risen Christ on the Damascus road he desired that others also encounter the living Christ and enter into a transforming relationship with the self-same Jesus. In Romans 1:16 he writes to the believers in Rome, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
The means of that salvation is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Israel’s Messiah, and the world’s true Lord. This is the gospel, the good news. The mode by which that salvation is conveyed to the world is the proclamation of this good news in word, deed, and the lives of God’s people. Mark Dever writes, “Christian proclamation might make the gospel audible, but Christian living together in local congregations make the gospel visible (See John 13:34-35). The church is the gospel made visible.” Francis Chan emphasises the centrality of the gospel when he declares that, “Proclaming the gospel to a lost world cannot be just another activity to add to the church’s crowded agenda. It must be central to who we are. It forms our identity.” And the mode by which that salvation is received is best described not as faith in the sense of intellectual assent, but as faith in the sense of full participation, a comprehensive transformation of conviction, character, and communal affiliation. This is what it means to be ‘in Christ,’ Paul’s most fundamental expression for this participatory life that is, in fact, salvation itself.