In the debates over the nature of the gospel and life transformation, it seems that there is a missing third option. There is a Car C that actually has a motor, but nobody seems to be mentioning it. There is a Married Approach C that actually has an ongoing dynamic power, but it seems absent.
Let me ask the question in reference to your preaching of the gospel:
Where is the union?
Do you preach a pressure message that constantly urges people to do the work of growth? Do you preach a momentum message that simply looks back to the wonder of their identity change at conversion – a message proclaiming what God has done in Christ that does stir gratitude and does stir life change and doesn’t promote sinfulness, but, maybe, does still lack something?
If the gospel doesn’t transform a life, do you balance grace with effort? Do you preach grace more boldly? Or do you make sure your preaching of the gospel of grace goes beyond gratitude to the dynamic relational and spiritual union of being one with Christ?
The gospel is not that God forgives guilt and then expects us to stir ourselves to obey with newfound ability to behave well. He does forgive guilt, but it goes further than that. Does God simply expect our gratitude to be the engine of transformation over the course of many years and many challenges? Surely that momentum alone will not take us up the hills and mountains that sometimes stand before us in this life.
The gospel is wonderful news. Not only are our sins forgiven so that we can be justified before God, we are also reconciled and made one with Christ by the Spirit (*are we allowed to mention the role of the Spirit in sanctification?) We are united to Christ so that we don’t need to look at a list of expected marital behaviours, and while we certainly do remember and celebrate what he did to win our hearts and pay the price for us, we don’t live purely by remembrance . . . we live in a present relational union with him, we look to him, and we travel with him through all the challenges of life, growing closer and growing to be like him as we keep our eyes on him.
Too much of the sanctification debate seems to be about looking to self versus looking back to conversion. Given the choice between the two I know which way I’d lean, but I know the critiques ring true if that is all we have.
God’s grace does truly transform. God’s grace truly is enough. But God’s grace is not just gratitude for a status change. God’s grace is about the Spirit of the Father and the Son, purchased for us by the Son, so that we can be truly united with him and join him in his present, dynamic, delighted relationship with his/our Father. We don’t just have the status of being married. We are married to someone so wonderful that if you want to encourage me in my Christian life, then don’t bother pressuring me to perform, just do your best to preach Christ to me and you’ll probably be amazed by the “performance” that results, but I won’t even be aware of that, because my eyes will be on him.
2 thoughts on “Gospel Preaching – 5”
Amen and amen!
When Jesus was asked to summarize/prioritize the list of “do’s” and “don’ts” (the Law) he said nothing about obeying, nor about gratitude, he simply said “Love God, then each other”. Says it all really, if we would just look.
We have been united to the person of Christ. Every spiritual blessing is ours because we are united to the person of Christ. By His doing we are in Christ Jesus, Who has become to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption…
It seems to me as I look at side A, that generally speaking, justification is at the center of their theological paradigm rather than union with Christ.
It is our union with Christ that unites us to all He is for us. When He takes us as His bride, He takes all we are, the good and the bad and the ugly, and we get all He is, all His Goodness and Beauty.
It is as we are united to Him in our baptism that we died and it is in our union with Him in the resurrection that are justified and are made new. Christ was raised for our justification!!!
Our salvation is more about His union with us and His faithfulness to us than our feeble attempts to be faithful to him, for even in the the most noble attempts our flesh has tainted the work.
The gospel reveals the righteousness of God to bring all things back to the way God intended it and for man that was complete reliance upon Him. Jesus, did what we couldn’t do and it is as we unite ourselves with the One Who united Himself with us in His baptism that we are empowered for new life. And it is at our baptism that we repent and turn from our self salvation project and turn toward the Good God who has done for us what we couldn’t do.
As I see the Goodness of God revealed in Christ Jesus, my heart is wooed to love the Lover of my soul.
I think about the song by Jason Gray, More LIke Falling in Love
Give me rules
I will break them
Show me lines
I will cross them
I need more than
A truth to believe
I need a truth that lives
Moves and breathes
To sweep me off my feet, it’s gotta be
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance