Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Focus of Christianity is the Cross and the Empty Tomb

In everything Paul wrote—more than half of the New Testament letters are his—he says the good news is the front-page headline. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3–4, italics mine). God says the gospel is the most important truth in his word. “First importance” (or “most important,” NLT), means that the gospel is the leading truth of the Bible; it’s at the head of the pack, the alpha truth, and all other biblical truths fall in line behind it. The gospel is the mama duck in our gaggle of doctrine. She leads, she guides, and all other doctrine looks to her, follows her, and keeps in step with her. To live a Christian life is to live “in step with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14) and to “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27).

The Christian life is formed by the glories of the gospel—it’s patterned and powered by the gospel of grace in all of life, for the rest of life. The gospel is the center of the Bible, and it ought to be the center of our lives, homes, churches, ministries, spiritual disciplines, songs, parenting, marriages, jobs—everything. The focal point of the Christian life is one cross and one empty tomb. Without the gospel, we lack the proper understanding of any doctrine, and especially a robust knowing of God himself. “The gospel,” Michael Bird, author and systematic theologian, says, “is the nexus into the reality of the God who has revealed himself.” If we want to know the glory of God, his high-definition glory is found in the gospel of Jesus—for Jesus makes God known (John 1:18). The cross is our logo. It’s the power of our lives, because Christ is alive in us. Husbands and wives pattern their marriage after the gospel (Eph. 5:22–33). Christian interaction is gospel-driven. Humility is possible for us proud people because of Jesus at work in us (Phil. 2:1–11).

The gospel is the message of the church. Christians are made strong because of the gospel. Bird is right: “We need a gospel-driven theology in order to yield a gospel-soaked piety and a gospel-acting church.” It’s all gospel. All the time. A gospel party don’t stop. The gospel, the news of the eternal Son of God dying in our place for our sins, is not only the center of the Bible; it’s also the center of history. In God’s gospel, he is reconciling all things unto himself for the praise of his glory. Nothing compares to the glory of the gospel in giving glory to God—and God will never get tired of the gospel; it’s the soundtrack of the heavenly places (Rev. 5:1–14). The angels, who have seen things we can’t even fathom, looked at the bloody cross and the empty tomb with sheer excitement. Peter tells us, "Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look." (1 Peter 1:10–12)

Do you long to look into the gospel? When you hear the gospel preached, do you perk up? I can relate to being bored by a lecture on some theological abstraction from a land far, far away, but not by the gospel; the wildness of the gospel vaporizes yawning and boredom. There is a shock-and-awe that comes with the gospel. God loves the gospel. The angels are giddy over it. If you don’t quite get the fireworks of the gospel, preach the gospel to yourself. Like Paul prayed for the Ephesians, pray "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places." (Eph. 1:17–20)

Adapted from Gospel Formed: Living a Grace-Addicted, Truth-Filled, Jesus-Exalting Life by J.A. Medders

No comments:

Post a Comment