Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Never Presume the Gospel (2)

The church should never presume the gospel. Just the opposite. We should presume the fragility of the gospel. It is a delicate flower, easily wilted by religious pride, one that only flourishes where careful attempts to humble the church have been consistently applied. According to the great Scottish divine, James Buchanan (1804-70), Luther “knew that men would invariably grow indifferent to [justification by faith alone], in proportion as they became less impressed with a sense of sin, and less alive to the claims of the Law and Justice of God.”[i] In other words, the gospel is a shy bird. It flits away wherever and whenever the Bad News is not emphasized.

[i] James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1867, reprinted 1997) pg 153, emphasis mine.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Never Assume the Gospel

Paul begins the third chapter of Phillipians this way. "To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you" (Phil. 3:1). Then a couple of paragraphs follow that denounce works righteousness and extol the free grace of God.

Why is this repetition"safe" for the Phillipians? Paul knows that the Gospel is a frail feather. It is easily trampelled and lost. All the lusts of our flesh war against it. So, to be "safe" he repeats the ABCs of the gospel. He assumes that we can never hear it enough.

Do you assume the same? We are no different today. In his new biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas, quoting a letter from Dietrich in New York to a friend in Germany (mid 1920s), writes... “In New York they preach about virtually everything; only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have as yet been unable to hear it, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, death and life.”[1]

Captitulation to these distractions is possible for everyone reading this sentence. Therefore, like Paul, we should say "To write/preach/discuss the [gospel] is no trouble to me and safe for you."

[1] Metaxas, Eric (2010-04-20). Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (p. 99). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. A quote by Bonhoeffer describing his stay in American in 1930

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Persecution Will Come!

Paul reminds us that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2Tim 3:12). Jesus tells us that persecution is a sign of God's blessing. He even exhorts us to rejoice when persecution arrives at our doorstep (Matt. 5:10-12). However, if you are like me, despite these clear warnings and exhortations, you are still surprised when persecution comes knocking. Why? You love the gospel. It seems reasonable. You have forgotten the offense of the gospel.
However, Charles Spurgeon reminds us, “When the gospel was preached, instead of being accepted and admired, one universal hiss went up to heaven; men could not bear it; its first preacher they dragged to the brow of the hill, and would have sent him down headlong; yea, they did more—they nailed him to the cross, and there they let him languish out his dying life in agony such as no man has borne since. All his chosen ministers have been hated and abhorred by worldlings; instead of being listened to they have been scoffed at; treated as if they were the off scouring of all things, and the very scum of mankind.” (Sermon 7,8 pg 50, The New Park Street Pulpit, Volume 1)
We have been given the joy and privelege of following a crucified Savior. "If they persecuted me" Jesus said, "they will persecute you" (Jn. 15:20).