DRIVEN: By what?

Video of interest:

Truly, I respect and appreciate where these three brothers are coming from on the whole, however, they demonstrate quite well the concern raised in a few of my previous posts (actually the last, third, and fourth to last posts).  More about that in a moment.

Again, there’s much here to be appreciated.  They do a fine job in this video and the other ones they’ve posted at Vimeo.  There’s a great deal of clarity on what the-Gospel-proper is and isn’t, striving to keep the root distinct from the fruit.  And yet, the concern is with comments regarding the “moral law” and its relationship to the Gospel.

There’s this assumption that’s made, what some would describe as a “third use” of the Law.  That, the Gospel itself calls us (believers) to “keep the Law.”  Beginning right around the 4:27 mark, the discussion takes an interesting turn.  The idea of “balance” is espoused, that the Bible puts forth the Gospel but then gives us commands (Law) so that we can see what the fruit of the Gospel looks like.  This conversation goes further to say that, the commands don’t change, the moral law of God doesn’t change…but now because of the Gospel, you now have the Holy Spirit in you and empowering you to now live like Jesus was living…but God’s law is unchanging.  The Law  remains the tracks that the Gospel now pushes us along.  Preach the commands, but also the Gospel so that by it people can obey the commands.

All of us either do now or have once accepted such notions as soundly biblical, but this thinking implies the following faulty conclusions:
  1. The Gospel is not a proclamation: of Jesus having fulfilled the Law, that we might be ruled by His Holy Spirit, with eyes fastened on the person and work of Christ, not on our performance, but in confidence that God is the promise keeper in making a people for his name’s sake, again through their beholding Christ’s glory revealed in the Gospel, New Covenant, by faith.
  2. But, the Gospel ends up being a new means to an old scheme, Law-keeping.
  3. Lastly, in effect, we’re being told that we must not hold too closely to notions like: Christ is the end of the Law; that the Law has been abolished; that the Spirit is supplied by faith and not works of the Law, or by a works-of-the-Law focus; that as those who are of the free woman (Jerusalem above) and not the slave woman (present Jerusalem; Sinai) we walk by faith (seeing Christ’s righteousness) not sight (seeing our righteousness); or, only faith working through love (a love that is revealed on the cross, and manifest by the Holy Spirit) counts for anything.
       What’s missing?  The understanding that Christ’s fulfilling the Law in/by himself for us, brings the code-function of the Law in the life of God’s people to an end.  The Law once functioned (as code) among God’s people as a means whereby they maintained a place in the Land, under the protection of the Lord.  What’s also missing is that the Law continues to function as a revelation of Jesus Christ, formerly as a shadowy revealing of God, but now as a substantive revealing of God when the Law is read in light of the Gospel, and thereby we see the face of Jesus Christ.  We see his face most clearly in the Gospel, New Covenant, and because of that are able to make out the Face in what was once mystery and shadowy, Old Covenant, The Law.  A face, that we behold, and are changed by in doing so, not by our doing in order to be changed.
       What are we left with then, that we might be conformed to His image?  The Holy Spirit!  Not a “moral Law” but an abiding Ruler of/in the heart, again the Holy Spirit.  This is God’s promise fulfilled in/thru Jesus, that the Spirit would one day be given, on account of what Christ has done for us, that Christ’s image might be manifest by His Spirit in us, making us to glorify Him and seek the good of our neighbor.  This is the New Covenant, new context.
       In short, the Christ-event changed everything; yes, even the role of the law-code with it’s demands; and yes, even us, who are now children of the Jerusalem above, the free woman, who are free in the Spirit unto God and neighbor.
       The Gospel changes everything…the whole context, vertically and horizontally, internally and externally, temporally and eternally.

GOSPEL-DRIVEN: Which gear?

There’s a fair amount of talk these days about being Gospel-Driven, and some of it is to be appreciated.  My question is: “In what “gear” are we driven BY the Gospel?”  It seems as if too much of what’s said is in “first gear,” not getting deeper than critical application to justification and sanctification.   Aren’t there more gears than this or do we see it as just a Forward & Reverse setup?

The Christian needs to know not only how the Gospel applies to them, but to the WHOLE counsel of God.  It’s not only our holiness but our entire hermeneutic, homiletic, etc. that needs to be shaped (driven) by the Gospel, Christ-event.  Otherwise, these things are essentially other than Christian, being rooted in/driven by something other than Christ, his Spirit and counsel.

How deep is the Gospel-driven into you?  We will only be as Gospel-driven FOR the Gospel as we are Gospel-driven BY the Gospel.

Is some of this “gospel-driven” stuff just idle-talk?  If so, the phrase will tend to wear-out with using.

CENTER: Of the Gospel?

The notion of Gospel-centered-ness can tend to be a mere abstraction, if we’re not careful.  Careful enough to grasp the Gospel’s center.

What is the Gospel’s center…focal point (person)?  You?  Me? Neighbor? Church? Culture?

How we answer this is critical, otherwise we end up with a gospel that centers on something other, which is another Gospel.  And if that ends up being the case, we end up with something other than Gospel-centered perspective on faith and life.

Friend, the Gospel is not about you and me.  Sorry, it’s true.  The Gospel is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, come in the flesh, in perfect righteousness, in a willful propitious death, having risen from the dead, and ascended unto the Throne of God.  This is THE Good News!

It’s a proclamation about one Person that’s made all the difference, for those who believe he’s done just that.  Otherwise, the so-called gospel we hold onto is about something/someone else, leaving us to ourselves to work things out for ourselves.

GOSPEL: Up or Down?

  1. Many of us see the Law for the mountain it really is.  Some of us see the Gospel as a climb that it really isn’t.
  2. The Law is a mount like Sinai, which we could never climb.  The Gospel is not the backside of the Law (Sinai), a more gradual slope we climb.
  3. The Gospel is God having come down to us in Christ Jesus,  not another way of making our way up to God.
  4. Beware of those who get the Law right, but turn the Gospel upside-down, by turning it into another Law.

Gospel (8)

In turning from the plain truth of Jesus Christ as crucified for sin, though having begun by believing the Gospel message, Christians can be found soon resorting to “Law keeping” as the means of continued growth in Christ.  At this sort of thing, St. Paul was so absolutely astounded that he was nearly at a total loss as to what to say!  “You fools, who has beguiled you?”

The apostolic inquiry:

On what basis does God give you spiritual strength, working mightily among you?

a) Works: performance (an obedience of Christians to the Law)

b) Faith: believing and relying upon the Gospel (the obedience of Christ to the Law)

(see Gal.3:1-5)

Gospel (7)

The Gospel itself—the preaching of Jesus Christ, the ancient secret now revealed—is God’s eternal command that brings about the obedience of faith! (see Rom 16:25-26)

This Gospel is an effectual, creative word, bringing life (obedience even) to all who are made to believe it to be such.

Gospel (6)

Central to this Gospel is the righteousness of God having been manifested apart from the Law—though the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—that is, the righteousness of God as both displayed and earned by Jesus himself.  A righteousness is revealed which is imputed to all who rely solely upon Christ’s finished work of earning glory. (Rom 3:21-22)

Gospel (5)

Unfortunately, a greater part of Protestantism tends to limit the preaching of the Gospel to unbelievers.  However, Rom. 1:11-12 presents us with the reality of the Gospel being preached to believers, for by it spiritual strengthening is given (a further cultivation of a faith the Gospel initializes). 

Moreover, the Gospel proclaims and possesses:

  1. The power of God for all salvation
  2. The righteousness of God for complete imputation
  3. The wrath of God for final execution

    (See Rom.1:15-18)

Gospel (4)

The Gospel…CENTERS UPON THE SON, who is the:

a) Incarnate One

        according to the flesh descending from David; and

b) Crucified & Resurrected One

        according to the Spirit declared the Son of God, by the resurrection from the dead.

(Rom 1:1-4)

The Gospel does not ‘center upon’ but is ‘applied to’ the Church. 

So much for our spiritual resumes which pose as Gospel witness.

Gospel (3)

Central to the Gospel —> the righteousness of God having been manifested apart from the Law—though the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—that is, the righteousness of God as both displayed and earned by Jesus himself.  A righteousness that is imputed to all who rely solely upon Christ’s finished work of earning glory (Rom 3:21-22).

Gosepl (1)

We live in a time when there is a great deal of confusion regarding what the Gospel is and how it works. We know this was the case in apostolic times as well. In fact, throughout the New Testament, the apostles had to continually remind the people of God of the most basic truths, to include defining again and again the Gospel itself. This is due to the fact that the Gospel is not intuitive to the natural state of man, and therefore one cannot suppose even those who are regenerate will always be mindful of what the Gospel is and how it works. The apostles did not “assume” people intuitively knew these essential elements of the faith, nor can we “assume” that about the Church today.