The Gospel Begins and Ends With God - Part OneTuesday, June 28, 2005
If ever there was one portion of Scripture that impacted my thinking more than any other, it was studying and preaching through Romans 1:16-17. In July of last year we, at our little church here, were privileged to get just a glimpse of the glory of God’s righteousness in that awesome text. It is vast, immense and too deep for our finite minds to get a hold of completely. Yet as the very foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must understand something of it as it has been revealed in the Scriptures if we are to rightly understand and present the gospel.
One conclusion that we were able to make in the four sermons on that text was that the gospel message that we believe and preach must begin and end with God. It must begin with God because all things began with God. God is the first uncaused cause…He is the first unmoved mover. He began all things and He will end all things.
My worst fears about Christianity are made real when I hear and read various gospel presentations. God is not the first thing mentioned. He is not even the first thought. American Christianity has grown so individualistic in its focus that each person seems unable to act or think outside of themselves. They look at and think on all events, circumstances, and situations as it impacts them. They do what they want, when they want, how they want, and why they want. They rarely think of others, and when they do it is it is only in relation or connection to themselves. Wow, I feel like I’m describing my own heart at times! And I’m probably describing yours also.
Is it any wonder then that we all find it so difficult to think about God in all our first thoughts. If we find it difficult to think of others who are close to us, whom we can see and hear, feel and touch, how much more difficult then to think of an invisible Being whom we cannot see or hear, feel or touch. Yet this is the glory and wonder of the New Covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 26:26-27). It takes away our stony hearts, those hearts that are cold towards everything else except itself, and it promises the irreversible implantation of a new heart, one that is warm towards God Himself, and one that constantly generates fresh and effective affections and thoughts about Him.
Beloved, if God has made His New Covenant with you, then your heart should and indeed will think differently. You will consider your Creator and Sustainer in what you do, more and more. More and more of your thoughts will begin with Him. And perhaps this is what is missing in American Christianity. If so much of the gospel begins and ends with man, then perhaps the New Covenant has not truly taken hold of as many souls as we now think. The next several posts are a simple call for us, as professing Christians, to pause and begin to understand all of life, especially the gospel that saved you, from God’s point of view instead of our own. Let's grow toward theocentricism (God-centeredness) and away from anthropocentrism (man-centeredness) in everything.