Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: The full circle of The Gospel

Monday, March 27, 2006

The full circle of The Gospel

I never want my blog to come across as a venue for a judgmental attitude, but it seems a rather odd thing, or perhaps sad is the better word, that believers in the church today are not only uninterested in the reality of sin and judgment, but that we see it as an unnecessary topic of discussion or preaching. I have my theories as to why this appears to be growing theme among churches, and at the top of the list are what people seem to be considering the most "successful" churches. Of course, the success of church is completely determined by how many people they have in a worship service and how large the physical structure of a church is, everyone knows that. Content has very little to do with it.

My sarcasm aside, what most people are getting these days is one half of the Gospel message. They receive the meek, gentle, welcoming, healing, providing, sustaining Jesus who is ready to serve their needs whenever the time is right for the believer. What they aren't receiving is the other half of the Gospel, that needs to come before what I have just mentioned. The problem causing, sin convicting, revolutionary Jesus who is willing to forgive your sin, but not willing to let you get a free pass from recognizing your sin. Matthew 10:34 has Jesus speaking and telling those listening that "I did not come to bring peace, but I have brought a sword."

In virtually every encounter Jesus has with those whom he speaks, he eventually makes them realize the condition of their lives. . .that they are hopelessly lost in sin and there is nothing they can do about it. Even if they have read The Purpose Driven Life. Jesus repeatedly asks people to do things He knows perfectly well they can't do, and he does this to point out their sin to them. In John 4, Jesus asks the Samaritan woman to go get her husband, knowing full well that she did not have one. It kind of destroys the evangelical cliche that "Christ will never ask you to do anything you can't do." His honest confrontation forced her to admit her condition, and then Jesus takes over for her. That is where the gentle, meek and welcoming Jesus is such a relief. Only after we have acknowledged our inability to handle our condition of sin on our own.

So, in order for the reader of the text to complete the full circle of the Gospel, an awareness of sin, death and our own inability to do anything about it must continue to be a theme for the day. Sure, my church could double it's size if we would conveniently leave those things out. Heck, maybe we would even purchase the Gaylord Entertainment Center for our church services. But the Kingdom surely would shrink.


Blogger Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Wow! This is an excellent post! I had a professor who liked to say, "The job of the preacher is to terrify the comfortable and comfort the terrified." The Word of God must kill before it will make alive. A person must be lead to the point where he despairs of saving himself before the radical grace of God and the cross will make sense. And you are absolutely correct that this was the strategy of our Lord's earthly ministry through and through.

In Lutheran circles, we call this properly distinguishing and proclaiming Law and Gospel. A very nifty book is "Handling the Word of Truth: Law and Gospel in the Church Today" by JOhn Pless.

March 27, 2006 7:36 PM  
Blogger VirginiaLutherans said...

Well said. The church growth movement is such a blight. If you want people to come in droves, sell sin. If you want to save their souls- speak the Word of God alone and leave it to the Creator of all things!

March 27, 2006 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Post!

March 27, 2006 9:50 PM  
Anonymous agog said...

To put it in one word: PERFECT!

March 27, 2006 11:48 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

Great post! It's a shame that many in the pews hear only what they think they need, instead of that which they acctually need. Most folks just don't want to hear about sin because it makes them feel bad. If a pastor is doing his calling properly, as Pastor Stiegemeyer says above, the believer is brought to saving faith. Once again, GREAT POST!

March 28, 2006 7:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent Post, the more people that realize that this abomination of leaving out the law exists so prevalently in churches today, the better. Hope you never end up in a church that does not teach the Law and Gospel properly.

March 28, 2006 7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a loyal reader of Pastor Scott's blog, I made sure to read your recent entry after learning of his high praise for your post. He is quite right, you have clearly pointed out two major problems in our church life of today. Continue the good work and I look forward to reading more.

March 29, 2006 12:34 AM  
Blogger Bob Waters said...


As Pastor S. said, we Lutherans are used to using the word "Gospel" in two senses- one, the broader sense, as you used it, but in a narrower and more specific sense the Good News as good news- as contrasted with the Bad News, the Law.

Without the first, the second is meaningless; without the second, the first makes life (and death) utterly hopeless.

You've done a great job of laying out
the roles of each. Great job. You go on my blogroll for this post!

April 02, 2006 9:38 PM  

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