Thankful for the GospelThursday, November 24, 2005
Several have asked if I was ever going to blog again. The question was provoked by the fact that I have (1) not blogged in over a week, and (2) I have not updated the theological pillow fight post. Sorry. This past week or so has been stuffed like grandma's turkey in the kitchen down the hall right now. At this point, please note that I have taken note of the posts on the subject, and that I've been bookmarking them for an updated post in the next day or so (eventually by this weekend). There are dozens of them and I want to respond to each one that is notable for significant content and argument. Thanks for your patience and patronage. To use one of Napoleon Dynamite's favorite phrases, I want that post in particular to continue to serve everyone on a "flippin' sweet" way.
Today is Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for the gospel. Last night I had a conversation with some relatives about some friends of theirs who find themselves in the midst of a tremendous trial. The enemy is involved and has been for decades. His involvement and provocation of indwelling sin have spiraled a dear family downward and out of control. It is hard to tell most of the time whether the sin reflected in others is motivated and controlled by their flesh or by the enemy. Regardless of which it is, the gospel is the answer. And that's the reason why we needn't worry our heads about trying to identify whether the world, the flesh, or the devil are behind someone's actions. The fact is, all three are intimately and inseparably involved with each other in making our lives miserable.
The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ has come to earth to crush the head of the serpent, and to crush the power of sin. We forget this cultural/theological background to the gospel too often. Today the gospel is often relegated simply to a sermon whether in a public congregational setting, or in a private personal conversation. And that's why it has no power to crush sin today as it did in the New Testament.
In the New Testament, Jesus didn't just preach the gospel. There were more than just words involved in the good news. There was action. The good news was put on display through words and actions. The good news of forgiveness of sins was preached and practiced. The good news of the destruction of Satan was preached and practiced. The good news of inward and outward gospel-healing was preached and practiced. The good news of reconciliation with God and man was preached and practiced. The good news of God's care for mankind was preached and practiced. It was all of these things and more, but never with just words and sermons. It was both sermon and service, always together like hand in glove, and never separated from each other.
Perhaps that's the largest reason why we do not see more impact on our local congregations, in our neighborhoods, in our homes, and at our jobs than we do today. We have forgotten that the good news was about Jesus coming to earth to announce the establishment of His long-awaited kingdom on earth, and the exponential consequences which flowed along with it and behind it like the train of a wedding gown. The good news is essentially an announcement that evil has been destroyed, God satisfied, man reconciled, sin forgiven, heaven opened, and life renewed. Ours is the task of living in that announcement, living in the reality which truly exists now. Ours is to live by faith in the fact that what we cannot see has indeed happened at the cross and the empty tomb. Sin has been destroyed. Yes, it is still very much alive. But faith demands that we see its life for what it truly is.
Sin and Satan are both destroyed while also dying a slow and certain death. So let us live boldly, gratefully, in this reality by faith. May we do what we can, go where we need to go, be where we need to be, read what we need to read, listen to what we must all in order to make this good news more stark, more contrasting with the world around us. This is GOOD NEWS we're talking about here! Why don't we act like it! Why don't I live like it!
Oh that faith in this good news may destroy unbelief and pride and every sin which seeks to scab the heart over with the pleasures of this life which rock us to sleep.