The solution to each problem

We never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced.” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s of Christianity, but it is the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we all make progress in the kingdom.

We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal. 3:1-3) and are renewed (Col 1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom 1:16-17).

It is very common in the church to think as follows: “The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience.” But Colossians 1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and “hard work” that is not arising from and “in line” with the gospel will not sanctify you—it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. Thus when Paul left the Ephesians he committed them “to the word of his grace, which can build you up” (Acts 20:32).

The main problem, then, in the Christian life
is that we have not thought out
the deep implications of the gospel,
we have not “used” the gospel in and on
all parts of our life.

Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel—a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says (on Gal. 2:14), “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine… Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel—seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church.

–Timothy Keller

Advertisements

Face to face with God

When people think of God they often think of him more like an exalted, detached spiritual being, a great angel, in fact, without much to do with our world of space, time and matter. I’m glad they don’t believe in that God; because nor do I. I believe in the God whose exact imprint is on display gurgling in the manger, arguing in the Temple, bleeding on the cross.

I believe in the God made known in Jesus . . .

Until we come face to face with God as a baby, God as utterly vulnerable, God establishing his kingdom by living as an asylum-seeker with a price on his head, God growing up with sneers about his parentage, God announcing his kingdom and people saying he was mad, God confronting the authorities and dying a cruel death – until we come to terms with this God, until we realise that this God is far greater than all the super-spiritual beings in the cosmos, we haven’t even got on the map with Christian faith. This is God inside out: O come, let us adore him.

–N. T. Wright

Not prepared

 

People are prepared for everything except for the fact that beyond the darkness of their blindness there is a great light. They are prepared to go on breaking their backs plowing the same old field until the cows come home without seeing, until they stub their toes on it, that there is a treasure buried in that field rich enough to buy Texas. They are prepared for a God who strikes hard bargains but not for a God who gives as much for an hour’s work as for a day’s. They are prepared for a mustard-seed kingdom of God no bigger than the eye of a newt but not for the great banyan it becomes with birds in its branches singing Mozart. They are prepared for the potluck supper at First Presbyterian but not for the marriage supper of the lamb.

-Frederick Buechner

%d bloggers like this: