Luther on the Gospel

Luther on the Gospel:

For this reason we must note that if we do not uphold the Gospel with its own strength, but rather with our own resources, all will be lost, so that no matter how well we defend it, it will crumble to pieces. Let us have no anxiety that the Gospel needs our help. It is sufficiently strong of itself, and may be committed to God alone, whose it is…Hence it is a poor and miserable thing that this feeble rabble of sophists opposes it. For what do these poor bats hope to accomplish with their petty flappings? Let them come! By the grace of God they have no true learning…In all these things there is no better counsel than to preach the Gospel simply and purely, praying God that He will direct and lead us.

Humility of Gospel-Centered Relationships

Elyse Fitzpatrick and Dennis Johnson, in Counsel from the Cross: Connecting Broken People to the Love of Christ (pp. 86-87):

When relationships are built around the truths of the gospel—the truth that we are walking in light even though we are still sinners in need of cleansing by his blood—we can be free from feelings of inferiority and the demanding spirit that is born of pride. We can pursue relationships without fear of being discovered as the sinners we are. This kind of open relationship rests solely on the realities of the gospel. We are more sinful and flawed than we ever dared believe, and so is everyone we know. Because of this, we won’t be surprised by other’s sins. They won’t expect us to be sinless either, so we don’t have to give in to self-condemnation and fear when they see us as we really are. We don’t have to hide or pretend anymore.

The gospel also tells us that we are loved and welcomed without any merit on our part, so we can love and welcome others whose merits we can’t see. We can remember the circumstances under which we have been forgiven, and we can forgive in the same way. We don’t deserve relationship with the Trinity, but it has been given to us. We can seek our relationships with others because we know that we have been sought out by him and that he is carrying us all on his shoulders. (Yes, he is that strong!)

The Gospel and Theology

This morning I met with the men from our church for our monthly men’s fellowship. Currently, we are reading and deeply discussing The 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Mark Dever, along with additional material from their website. Shortly after a quick breakfast, we delved into the topic of the morning, namely the gospel (chapter 3 or the third mark). Our men passionately shared with one another that the gospel is foundational and it is what drives our church, our worship, our fellowship, and our evengelism.

But unfortunately, that is not the case with many churches. And too often the so-called gospel for many people has reduced to a mere moralism, self-esteem, only one facet of Christology, namely “Jesus loves you,” or only that “God is love” or that “God loves all.” Or, how about this one: the gospel is about “having personal relationship with Jesus,” as if it is privatized, without any sense of both individual and corporate accountability to a local church. Don’t people understand that Jesus has “personal relationship” with both condemned and converted ones?

And too often the gospel is simply “Jesus died for you,” while completely ignoring or neglecting that there is undividable connection between the true gospel and sound systematic doctrines. For instance, is there a direct relationship between the gospel and bibliology? The answer is absolutely! How else the gospel is known without God’s special revelation? If one has a wrong view of the Bible (such as its inerrancy, authority, or sufficiency), more likely, one would have a wrong view of the gospel.

Next, how about the relationship between the gospel and theology proper? Again, absolutely! If one would have a wrong view of God, more likely, one would have a wrong view of the gospel.

How about the relationship between the gospel and anthropology? Absolutely! It is because if one would have a wrong view of man (such as what Robert Schuller and Joel Osteen advocate), one would have a wrong view of the gospel.

How about the correlation between the gospel and Christology? Absolutely, again! If one has a wrong view of Jesus, he/she has a wrong view of the gospel. How about the relationship between the gospel and pneumatology? Again, if there is a wrong view of the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, there is no true gospel.

And the list of other theological implications can go on and on (e.g., ecclesiology and eschatology). I hope you get the picture. All that is to say, there is absolutely undeniable relationship between the gospel and systematic theology. As you can see, the biblical gospel is more than “Jesus loves you” or other one-sided half truths.

I have concluded that the reason why so many do not preach the biblical gospel is because so many do not understand the biblical gospel. Many think they do, but they don’t. And one of the fundamental reasons for this is because people failed to have a high view of God and a low view of man. Dever rightfully writes:

One of the early stages of becoming a Christian involves beginning to realize that your problems fundamentally are not that you have messed up your own life or tha tyou have failed to ralize your own potential, but that you have sinned, not primarily against yourself or even against someone else, but against God. And now, because of that, it begins to dawn on you that you are yourself rightly the object of God’s wrath, of His judgment – that you deserve death, separation from God, spiritual alienation from Him now and forever (p. 83).

As much as it is important to preach or share the gospel, we must know the gospel, first and foremost.

Another Gospel

My heart longs for churches to wake-up from apathy and lack of discernment (along with many other sickening symptoms) and boldly confront errors with truths of the gospel. The next two videos of men (Justin Peters and John Piper) are few that are attempting to do just that.

People, if you are not shaking and trembling for God and running to his mercy as a result of what you hear at church you’re not hearing the gospel. And such so-called church that does not preach the gospel is not a church. Ultimately, God is the gospel. That means the ultimate focus of the gospel is not man nor his needs but God! I would even argue that the ultimate goal for the gospel is not even the salvation of men but the exaltation of God! Hence the purpose of the gospel is not so that I can have the health and wealth, but solely for God’s glory!

Brothers, preach the Word of God (cf. Hebrews 4:12-13) this weekend!