I will never forget when a friend explained to me the core message of the Gospel. Before going into the details, I need to explain something.
I was born into a Christian family. My parents dedicated serious time to prayer every day. My father would come home after work and we would all have dinner together.
After dinner, the whole family — my parents, my grandmother and all the children — prayed together. Not for a long time; it was a matter of a few minutes. But it was every day. Sundays, of course, were truly the Day of the Lord, when we would all go to church together.
My years in school were also steeped in a deeply religious environment, since they were Catholic schools. For my first seven years, I went to a school run by nuns. Then for secondary school, Form 1 to 6, I studied in a Benedictine monastery. In other words, by the time I was 16 years old, it was the most natural thing in the world for me to live a Christian life.
Perhaps you were able to enjoy the same kind of influence in your childhood. Perhaps you, too, grew up in a Christian family. If you did not, it doesn’t change the message of today’s sermon and that message will be just as useful to you. I am only insisting on my Christian upbringing to make a point.
No matter how deeply religious your life has been, you may be just as clueless about the core message of the Gospel as I was when I grew up. That message is best expressed in three biblical texts, one from St Peter, one from St Paul and one from St John.
St Peter says in his second letter: God “has given us the guarantee of something very great and wonderful to come: through them you will be able to share the divine nature.” St John wrote in his first letter: “Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called children of God. For that is what we are.” St Paul wrote in Romans: “All who are guided by the Spirit of God are sons of God; for what you received was not the spirit of slavery to bring you back into fear; you received the Spirit of adoption, enabling you to cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself joins with our spirit to bear witness that we are children of God.”
If you have been baptised in the name of Jesus Christ and you believe that he is the Son of God, you are a child of God. You are no longer merely human. You have become godlike. You have been divinised. “To all those who accept Him and believe in His name, He gave power to become children of God.”