Monday, December 18, 2006

We Never Get Beyond the Gospel

A few weeks ago, in a Bible study that I attend, we were studying Hebrews 6 and these questions arose: "What are the elementary truths of Christ?" and "What is the Gospel?" The responses were pretty typical. Which is not to say that they were terrible or unbiblical, just simply predictable. Maybe that's why I left that study feeling a little disillusioned. Predictable answers in matters concerning Christ and faith never seem right. Maybe that's why I enjoyed reading this quote from Tim Keller:

We never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something ore“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 justthe A-B-C’s of Christianity, but it is the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel isnot just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but theway we make all 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 implication 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 online 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 new “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 discover of a new implication or application of the gospel—seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church.

Tim Keller is a stud. You should check out the link provided in this post.

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