Friday, February 6, 2009

Gospel Lens

I am more and more convinced of the impact a correct view of the gospel will have on a person. I've personally been lightly checking out dispensational, covenant, and new covenant theology, and i mean lightly. I've only done so because of some remarks i have heard from over-zealous New Covenant disciples, one who used the word 'anathema' to describe teachers of other schools. In my discovery of where some people fall into different categories of these and other types of theology it is interesting how a great majority DON'T ever fall into the extremes that is supposed to be inevitable. Well if you hold to this then you are this, this and this. Or teachers of this school teach this, this, and this. In the past i have attempted to show how false these assumptions are in regards to several things, like Pentecostalism. The amount of difference even within a church is amazing and incredibly wide. I must stress once again that the majority of people JUST don't FIT into categories, go ahead and put people in boxes if you want to but it will just lead to much confusion- as to unbelievers you will always be intimidated in not knowing enough of where they are coming from, and always letting them play in home court (NO NO NO you have the truth, you have the gospel, you have a divine directive to PREACH the gospel, don't get distracted always playing defence) as to believers you will become overly and unnecessarily critical because you will assume things that simply aren't true.
Take for instance dispensationalism, which would seem (certainly from it's beginnings) to ignore the major promises of regeneration to only apply to Israel as a nation and also lead to the carnal christian doctrine, man-centered appeals and the like. Yet to say this is NOT fair to many godly men, and i would like to propose why!
There is a guard, a safety net, a restraining truth that keeps many of us from gross error: even those who have been taught a certain system that seems to have many weaknesses. That truth is the GOSPEL, let a believer GRASP the GOSPEL and he or she will be protected from much harm. It is more than just central, it's truly transcends all theology. It is the light and foundation of all truth. Now when i say the gospel i don't mean a Billy Graham crusade TYPE of gospel, I mean a MEATY, SOLID, and DEEP Gospel which contains so much more than any gospel tract can hold. The men of the past knew it, the greatest thinkers of all time revealed such. Men who were (in our day would be considered genius) scholars of scholars, incredibly disciplined and masters of logic as the Puritans: let them get one aspect of the gospel and they would write several books on it. Once again this is my plug for the Puritans if you have never read them before, or an Edwards sermon then put down that contemporary survey and chew on something with some heat.
This gospel that i speak of, the gospel which declares the Sovereignty of almighty God, which declares the deity and humanity of Christ (God in the flesh), which puts Christ at the center of eminence, which shows Christ as the perfect sacrifice, the ONLY way, the ONLY atonement, the ONLY hope of salvation. The gospel i speak of is that gospel which SHATTERS the pride of man to find any worth, any ability, any goodness within himself; that gospel which convinces a man that he is JUSTLY worthy of eternal damnation, that gospel that DEMANDS a man to REPENT and BELIEVE. The gospel which promises a transforming work of the Holy Spirit to make a man WILLING to obey God, makes him WALK righteously. The gospel which declares a man may be assured of his salvation when it's followed by the FRUIT (change) God has PROMISED WILL come. That gospel that proves a man cannot work for his salvation or work to keep it. That gospel which shows a man was brought by the undeserved LOVE of God and KEPT (until heaven) by the undeserving love of God. That gospel which calls a man to die to his lusts, to crucify his passions; that gospel which is freely given to all and pleads with men to accept it.

This is the Gospel which will keep every believer in check. Let a man hold this much and REGARDLESS of what SCHOOL you put him in, regardless of what DENOMINATION, regardless of his AFFILIATIONS he will NOT stray from the faith. That grasp of the gospel will PREVENT him from going in the way of legalism, will prevent him going into pragmatism, will prevent him from proclaiming a SOCIAL-Gospel, will prevent him from antinomianism, will prevent a man-centered self-help gospel.
Let anyone be careful before proclaiming damnation on any who truly believe, teach and live the TRUE gospel. Let us also not get carried away with any form or system which some may try to present as the gospel, add nothing to this gospel, impose no opinions on this gospel. Debate what you will but don't attempt to win an argument by making your position as important (or part of) the gospel.
To this i would also add, continue to hone your understanding of the gospel; i don't mean can you quote the doctrines of grace or a certain confession or evangelistic method. What i mean is do you so understand, so grasp the truths of the gospel that you can teach them to others. Do you sound like a textbook? I am so amazed at how few times I've heard the gospel accurately preached in an understandable way. JUST STOP and THINK for a minute, do you not hear yourself, listen to what you are saying and ask yourself this; when i was LOST would this have made any sense at all? Think rather about truthful and understandable STATEMENTS rather than RIGHT terminology, explain over and over again if need be: let it be said that you have said too much, so you lose the attention of a few people BIG DEAL, even the apostle Paul didn't stop preaching the minute he saw people getting sleepy (remember the guy falling to his death). Yet it would tragic to stop SHORT of a whole and clear gospel.
It is this COMPLETE gospel which encourages and strengthens believers, it is the ULTIMATE sanctifying truth as well as the ultimate justifying truth. It was the practice of Martyn Lloyd-Jones to preach an evangelistic service every Sun pm, which to the surprise of many Christians was immensely helpful to them personally, of course Lloyd-Jones remarked about the tragedy that most Christians would think the gospel is only for the lost.
In all your preaching, preach the gospel, preach Christ, bring every passage to it's fullest understanding through the GLORIOUS gospel. May God give us MORE preachers who PREACH THE GOSPEL!!!!!!!!!!!

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