Monday, March 07, 2005

The Gospel is Not a "How To" Thing

This is perhaps the primary objection I have to all of those "how to become a Christian" step-wise Gospel tracts we see. They are everywhere. I have heard people say to me, "well its ok to present the Gospel like that, so long as its Biblical." That is a loaded statement. First of all, presenting the Gospel as a list of instructions is inherently un-Biblical. Secondly, the only way we could say it is Biblical is to say that some of the content is derived from Scripture. But most of them are derived from Scripture. How many times have you seen John 3:16 or Rev 3:20 quoted on one of these things? Its like a cookie-cutter instruction manual.

This whole thing betrays the fact that the Gospel is a proclamation of truth. It is called "the Word of truth" or the "message of truth". It is not a proposal of terms, a list of demands for surrender, or an instruction-list to gain eternal life. This would seem to make the Gospel into some type of new, easier-to-follow, Law. Ironically, this is often how the Gospel is portrayed today.

Check out 1 Cor 15. Paul essentially recaps the Gospel. There is not one mention of us having to do something. Look at Paul's preaching in Acts 13. Again, its all about Christ. There is the promise given concerning all who believe, and then a warning is given. Even in Acts 2, though Peter commands the crowd to repent and be baptized, notice that the Gospel had already done its work in their hearts. The message is primarily a record of what God has done in Christ. John calls it the "testimony that God has given concerning His Son. " (1 John 5:10)

Imagine if the Gospel was truly a list of instructions. How could I be sure I was sincere enough in following them? How could I be sure I had followed them completely? How could I know? I should test myself again and again against my checklist and still never have comfort. I can believe Christ died for my sins, but what rest is there if I am persuaded that the entirety of my eternal state hinges upon me following a few steps? The only comfort comes in knowing that what the Gospel proclaims is true -objectively true, undefilable by men. It comes in the promise of mercy to all who hide under His wings. This is not an instruction for men to "stand here, under these", but a call to those who see that no thing they do, no list of steps followed, no action of theirs, will make them right with God Almighty.

Oh, how intent we are upon getting people to "respond" to the Gospel, not acknowledging that the Gospel itself is the "power of God unto salvation" for all who believe (Rom 1). It is not the response that saves! We could force a man, at gunpoint, to "respond" in a certain way, but his soul would be just as lost. We could encourage the proper emotions, the proper sincerity, but still it would be nothing. The Spirit converts men. The Spirit reveals sin and reveals Christ.

1 comment:

DAO said...

your blogs are firing me up. how awesome is it that the Eternal God of all creation, in whom there is no boundaries in all His excellence, sees me, a rebel, a god hater...and then He speaks a kind word to me...were I to reflect on that I would soon have my face on the floor in a puddle of my own tears...thanks for these reminders Tim...