Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Equation Of The Gospel

 "What in the world makes us so embarrassed about the Gospel?"
- John MacArthur [1]

Over the last two weeks, I've been trying to write a follow-up to my last post on the disturbing reality of the "prosperity gospel" and its purveyors. It's been difficult going, because I've also wanted to draw from my own experience of being blinded by subtle variations of the same message. That post still isn't finished, but I hope that I'll be able to dig deep down, find the right words for what I want to say and have it finished soon.

In the meantime, I've managed to finish reading through my Christmas present from my roomate Paulman - Tullian Tchividjian's "Jesus + Nothing = Everything". It's been a great read, one of those precious pieces of Christian literature that when I came to the end of it, knew that God had been at work in my mind and hear to propel a paradigm shift in my understanding of His gospel. I thought I'd share some of my impressions here.

"Jesus + Nothing = Everything" is more than an attempt at creating a catchy Christian jingo that appeals to our generation's short attention span. It is more than just another attempt to deliver an exposition of the New Testament book of Colossians. Pastor Tullian delves deeply, invigoratingly and refreshingly into the life-giving waters of the Gospel, and encouraged me to dive into its depths with him. By the grace of God and the working of His Spirit, I gained more than just an intellectual excursion through the core message of the Christian faith, more than just pithy and stimulating sayings or an entertaining read. No, much more in the little bit of poetry that I wrote to express my gratitude:

I see more clearly now the hollowness of the Nothing, 
The radiant brilliance of the Everything, 
And the pearl of Jesus, and Him alone.
The light of the truth is blinding;
How much better to be blinded by the truth 
Than to have the sight that never sees!

I think that little bit of prose expresses my sentiments about the message of Pastor Tullian's book. God in His mercy has been using to help me see and savour the wonder of His gospel, so that I might better understand the words of the writer of the book of Hebrews, exhorting me to join my fellow believers:

"lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV

I came across the following video depicting a section of a sermon by Matt Chandler, on part of the text of Paul's letter to the Romans. It fit very well with the exposition of Jesus + Nothing = Everything, and I wanted to include it here. It lifts my heart every time I hear these powerful words from the pen of the apostle that have saved lives over the last twenty centuries:

I could think and write all night without stopping on the blinding light of His word that God is beginning to breathe into my mind, heart, and life by the power of His Spirit. I feel like my head will explode if I think about this anymore; I'm so happy. So I'm going to stop here for tonight, and take my thoughts with me as I get ready for bedtime. As I wrote this post, I was listening to part of a sermon by John MacArthur titled "God's Own Defense of Scripture." I'd like to leave you with what he had to say; they were incisive:

"You can't be saved unless you know that God is too righteous to accept your works, and you're too sinful to earn salvation...Does the word of God have to be helped along because it is somehow inept, inadequate, irrelevant, antiquated? Do we need somehow to package it in some culturally sensitive way to make it feel like everything else in this culture feels in order to get an entrance? Do we have to beef it up, by making it seem to promise health, wealth, prosperity, healing, as if God was some divine Mary Kay passing out pink Cadillacs? Do we need to make a syrupy, schmaltzy appeal to the emotions of people based on their feelings, bruised egos, need for self-esteem, desire for trinkets and goodies, and somehow alter the hard gospel so that people will buy it? Does it have to be polluted with promises of material prosperity, material success? Is it insufficient on its own?"
- John MacArthur

The answer, as he clearly laid out, is no. The Word of God alone tells me that Jesus is my Everything. Nothing else. I'll say a happy "Amen" to that.

Grace and Peace to you,
 - The Wisdom Seeker