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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Fellowship Ideas | Main | Some Helpful Links 06-05-08 »

    The Gospel is Historical

    What does it mean when we say that the gospel is historical?

    Dr. Tim Keller explains:

    The gospel is historical . . . The word “gospel” shows up twice [1 Peter 1:1-12, 1:22-2:12]. Gospel actually means “good news.” You see it spelled out a little bit when it says “he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ”. Why do we say that the gospel is good news? Some years ago, I heard a tape series I am sure was never put into print by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones. It was an evening sermon series on 1 Corinthians 15. He clarified how the Gospel is based on historical events in how the religion got its start. He said there was a big difference between advice and news. The Gospel, he would say, is good news, but not good advice. Here’s what he said about that: “Advice is counsel about something that hasn’t happened yet, but you can do something about it. News is a report about something that has happened which you can’t do anything about because it has been done for you and all you can do is to respond to it.”

    So he says think this out: here’s a king, and he goes into a battle against an invading army to defend his land. If the king defeats the invading army, he sends back to the capital city messengers, envoys, very happy envoys. He sends back good newsers. And what they come back with is a report. They come back and they say: It’s been defeated and it’s been all done. Therefore respond with joy and now go about your lives in this peace which has been achieved for you. But if he doesn’t defeat the invading army, and the invading army breaks through, the king sends back military advisers and says . . . “Marksmen over here and the horseman over there, and we will have to fight for our lives.” Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones says that every other religion sends military advisers to people. Every other religion says that if you want to achieve salvation, you will have to fight for your life. Every other religion is sending advice saying “here are the rites, here are the rituals, here’s the transformation of the consciousness and here are the laws and the regulations. Marksmen over here and horsemen over there and we are going to fight for our lives.” We send heralds; we send messengers and not military advisers. Isn’t that clarifying? It’s just incredibly clarifying. And it’s not like there’s nothing to do about it, my goodness. Both the messenger and the military adviser get an enormous response. One is a response of joy and the other one is a response of fear. All other religions give advice and they drive everything you do with fear . . . as you know, when you hear the gospel, when you hear the message that it’s all been done for you, it’s a historical event that has happened, your salvation is accomplished for you, what do you want to do? You want obey the Ten Commandments, you want to pray, and you want to please the one that did this for you.

    If, on the other hand, military advisers say you have to live a really good life if you want to get into heaven, what do you do? You want to pray and you want to obey the Ten Commandments. It looks the same, doesn’t it? But for two radically different reasons: One is joy and the other one is fear. In the short run, they look alike. But in the long run, over here we have burn out and self-righteousness and guilt and all sorts of problems. And that’s fascinating. But having said that, what’s the ministry implication? The ministry implication is this: the significance of preaching, of proclamation, of declarative preaching, is irreplaceably central in Gospel ministry. Declarative preaching is irreplaceably central.Why? If basically we are sending people “how to”, if we are saying here’s the “how to” to live the right way, if that’s the primary message, I am not sure words are necessarily the best thing to send. You want to send a model. If I was to teach an advanced seminar on preaching (and I never have) I would make everybody read CS Lewis’ Studies in Words. It’s amazing because we are wordsmiths and he shows you how important it is to craft your words properly. The last chapter is called “At the Fringe of Language” and he says language can’t do everything. He says that one of the things language cannot do is describe complex operations. On the other hand, when it comes to describing how, to explain to somebody that Joshua Chamberlain, without any ammunition, charged down Little Round Top in an incredible, risky adventure at the height of the Battle of Gettysburg, and as a result changed the course of history. You don’t show people that, you tell them that. It’s something that happened, you describe it. You tell them that. If you are going to give them how-tos, very often what you want is modeling and dialogue, action and reflection and so forth.

    Therefore, if you believe the gospel is good news, declarative preaching (verbal proclaiming) will always be irreplaceably central to what we do. However, if you subscribe to the assertion that the gospel is simply good advice on how to live a life that changes people and connects to God . . . dialogue would be alright. Stories and modeling and reflection would be more important. In other words, you would believe what some people would quip: “proclaim the gospel, use words if necessary”. You’ve probably heard that. That shows, I think, that they don’t quite understand what the gospel is all about.

    Excerpt from Keller's sermon Gospel-Centered Ministry

    Posted by John on June 5, 2008 10:22 AM

    Comments

    Great Word!!!

    It reminds me of an experience I had once. I was at a conference where we were being equipped to share the Gospel of the Events Historic.

    We were let out of the morning session early with this mandate:

    Go and share the "fact" of Christ's death, burial and resurrection with one person and come back at 2 P.M. and we will open the floor for testimony and follow up discussion.

    I was now armed and dangerous! I was young, single, flush with money and things were going so well for me. I got up determined to fulfill the mission and go and share this "fact" with one person.

    I went to a common park. It was a sunny day. I came there and sat down and just started praying and waiting for my big chance.

    In a bit an old man, probably, guessing, he was in his nineties, came along and sat down on a park bench on the opposite side of me now facing me. He had a bag and some bread or crackers. He began feeding the birds. I glanced over at him and he was not paying any attention to me because he was feeding the birds.

    Then as I was mustering up my courage to get up and cross over to him to share the "fact" with him, out of the corner of my eye I saw movement and looking up in that direction here comes a young beautiful jogger. She was pacing herself as she came around towards the old man on one side and me on the other. Now the three of us realized that she was going to cross between us. I looked at her and then the old man. She looked at me and then the old man. The old man noticed me and the jogger. It all happened almost at the same time and in very slow motion.

    At that moment, I wilted in fear and then almost in the same waxing moment of fear I realized the old man was full of fear and so was the jogger! Each of us was afraid of each other!

    The moment passed and I then sat there realizing that each of us was emotionally charged with fear and that was a powerful barrier that kept us apart.

    I then began thinking about it and sank into an emotion of depression and ran off in my head into a bitter sequence of judgment against each of us and then it grew and grew and grew until I got up in disgust with myself, God and those two. I found myself now angry with two strangers because "they were afraid of me"!

    I got up and left the park and I came back equipped with the knowledge that I was a whimp and not willing to share the "fact" of the Historical Gospel. I realized I had no love of God for anyone but myself. I also realized that that is the same with all of us in this world driven by fears and not blessed by God's Love. The Love of God is here. It is available!

    Now, many years later and knowing that I am dead in my transgressions and sins already only by the Grace and Mercy of God, [that too is a historical fact], I am forgiven, I am now armed with Christ and I find that now I don't really give a hoot what anyone thinks. Now I truly am armed and dangerous with this "KNOWN" fact! Christ is risen, Christ is King, Christ has come and He is coming again!

    Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

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