Believers have no honor deficit

This is from the summary chapter in my forthcoming book:
THE GLOBAL GOSPEL: Achieving Missional Impact in Our Multicultural World.

Believers no honor deficit

There is an answer to the perplexing problem of sin for individuals and peoples. The answer is found in Jesus Christ. This is profoundly good news.

There is a kingdom with an infinitely mighty King, who, because of his own honor and compassion, shares his glory with people while absorbing their sin, guilt, and shame. Those who follow this King are sometimes called Christians, or simply believers. Believers have no honor deficit. They are not ashamed. They are children of God, siblings of the King. They are full and they are free, on mission with God to bless all the peoples of the earth.

King Jesus is the One whose glory and honor is of such magnitude that he gives and shares his glory (John 17:22) with those who “believe in his name” so that they literally become “children of God” (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1). Believers experience a dramatic elevation of their honor before God—an honor-status reversal. Although the King gives and shares his glory lavishly, in doing so, the King’s own honor is not diminished whatsoever. More and more people worship him—so the worshipful glory given to our King increases (John 12:32, 2 Cor 4:15), as he shares his life and glory with those who follow him.

Believers who love and obey the King are his siblings (Matt 12:48–50). They have been born again into a new family—a new kinship group. They have been born, “not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). They have a new spiritual DNA out of which springs forth a life-transforming honor that sets them free. By the grace of God believers enjoy a divinely imparted ascribed honor (not achieved honor), so that no one may boast (Eph 2:9), and God receives all the glory he deserves (Rom 11:36). How offensive this is to self-exalting, self-sufficient human pride.

Believers have no honor deficit.
They are children of God, siblings of the King.
They are not ashamed.
They are full and they are free,
on mission with God to bless all the peoples of the earth.

For persons debilitated by sin and shame … for peoples who are oppressed, victims of a majority people obsessed by their own power … for those who consider themselves outsiders and aliens … there is a new Source of honor which heals and covers their shame. It is experienced through “the gospel of the kingdom” (Luke 4:43, 8:1, 16:16, Acts 8:12; cf: Acts 19:8, 20:25, 28:23, 31). It is located in the King and kingdom of Jesus.

The honor which issues forth from this kingdom is embedded exclusively in Christ. This honor in Jesus creates for believers a visceral experience which conquers shame. It is an honor surplus provided to followers of Jesus the moment they are saved. It is symbolized when believers are baptized, immersed into “the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mat 28:19). This honor surplus is a fullness of life which overflows. It is thirst-quenching, thoroughly satisfying (John 7:38). This honor surplus is maintained experientially by being filled with the Holy Spirit, growing in the knowledge of the Word of God, and sharing in the life of Christ’s nurturing body-community (1 Cor 12:21–26), the church.

Believers have no honor deficit.
They are children of God, siblings of the King.
They are not ashamed.
They are full and they are free,
on mission with God to bless all the peoples of the earth.

One might think that the pursuit of knowing Christ and experiencing his glorious honor is somehow selfish. But this pursuit is the practice which Jesus commanded: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Mat 6:33). It was embodied by the life of Apostle Paul (Phil 3:7–11). Paul wrote about this pursuit—this seeking-for-glory-and-honor—to the church at Rome: “to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (Rom 2:7). This pursuit is, in reality, the very antithesis of selfishness or sinful pride.

It is by their kingdom-infused, Christ-embedded, Spirit-breathed, Word-informed, church-supported honor surplus that believers are set free from sin (Rom 6:7–8, 17–18). True believers love and give sacrificially. When insulted, true believers are free, if necessary, to absorb the shame of others. Believers are ministers of reconciliation. Believers can stop being defensive or violent, because in Jesus Christ they are peacemakers.

On the one hand, believers can, like Jesus, humbly challenge the status quo and speak truth to power. On the other hand, they freely can stoop down and wash one another’s feet, because like Jesus, they have no honor deficit (John 13:14–15).

All of these freedoms are expressions of selflessness. These freedoms reveal the very life of Jesus.

Believers have no honor deficit.
They are children of God, siblings of the King.
They are not ashamed.
They are full and they are free,
on mission with God to bless all the peoples of the earth..

Many believers live in a consumerist society in which things are worshiped, but because of their honor surplus, they are free to avoid or even relinquish things which signify social status. They may possess the latest technology devices, fashionable cars and clothes, stylish houses, or impressive job titles. But while these things may all be considered gifts from God, believers nevertheless consider them optional because believers are content (Phil 4:11). They are content because they are satisfied in knowing and serving their King. Their honor is located in the King and his kingdom, not the kingdom of this world.

Because of their honor surplus in Jesus, they rejoice in suffering—“counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41). They joyously live with an ethical righteousness that rises above depraved cultural values which are insulting to God. Believers know that sin is more than the breaking of a legal code, it is the very dishonoring of Almighty God (Rom 1:21–26, 2:23–24).

Believers have no honor deficit.
They are children of God, siblings of the King.
They are not ashamed.
They are full and they are free,
on mission with God to bless all the peoples of the earth.

Believers saturated with the King’s honor gladly serve him. They know it is by the King’s saving blood and cross and resurrection that they are spared condemnation (Rom 8:1), and are adopted (Eph 1:5) into the honorific eternal family of God (1 Pet 2:6–10).

They embrace with all their hearts the honor of extending the blessing of salvation in Christ to “all the families of the earth” (Gen 12:3, Gal 3:29). They can join the King and his family on mission to bless all peoples with his great salvation. This honor thrills them because it gives them so much purpose and joy.

Their experience of Christ’s kingdom and his shame-conquering love brings healing now (Mat 5:3, Rom 5:5). It will be experienced in fullness and perfection for all believers in eternity.

Believers have no honor deficit.
They are children of God, siblings of the King.
They are not ashamed.
They are full and they are free,
on mission with God to bless all the peoples of the earth.

This is the global gospel.


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