Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Old Story

How many times have you Christians heard it? The gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord. The subject of many of the posts here. The old story is the one I long to hear, again and again. If you are reading this and have yet to confess Christ as Lord, ask now to receive him. Do not wait.

Whatever keeps you from it is the same thing that kept anyone who ever hesitated-a belief that being good enough will sustain you. A belief that other little gods are plenty. A belief there is no such thing as sin. A belief there is no such thing as truth. There's much more, yet all these beliefs point to at least two things: that one must believe to be, (whether or not one believes in God) and that there is truth. And from this, a standard of truth, an inference must be drawn that truth has a Teller.

A great American statesman, Daniel P. Moynihan said something on the order of:

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, not their own facts"

Thus begins the battle:

Who are you to say that this way is the truth? Good question. Who am I?

A sinner, saved by the grace and mercy of my Lord Jesus. There's more. The gospel's offense is that no one is spared. You, my friend, are a sinner in need of saving too. ( Romans 3:23).

You simply cannot wiggle around it. You cannot do it. Nor can the articulate teachers and politicians. No feel-good sermon is going to be adequate; it is not about felt boards in Sunday School. It is not about being an ethical person. It is not about being religious. The crux of it is that God so loved the world. So loved. that he gave his only son, that he gave. that he gave. he. gave so that whoever would believe on him, Jesus, the son, would inherit eternal life. (John 3:16)

We, mankind, fell in Eden. (Genesis 3:1-24) We mankind, are sin-soaked. In that state, we are condemned to hell. Strong language. Strong truth. God's holiness demands righteousness. Though we, mankind, have tried since near the beginning to get righteousness right on our own, God himself had to make a way.

John Piper says that God is the gospel. Not you. Not me. Not your gods, or mine. Not your righteousness, or mine. God. He did for us in Christ what we could not do. To think that our Triune God, the Creator of the universe has so loved us first by providing a way to him, is astonishing. (Genesis 3:21 & Paul's letter to the Romans 3:21-25)

A friend sent me this quote the other day, give it due consideration:

If we needed an education, God would have sent us a teacher. If we needed prosperity, God would have sent us an economist. If we needed therapy, God would have sent us a psychiatrist. If we needed healing, God would have sent us a physician. If we needed technology, God would have sent us a scientist. If we had needed knowledge, God would have sent us philosopher. But what we needed most was redemption, so God sent us a Savior!

My response to this quote is a good illustration of just how dire my need. I thought when I read it- how terribly simple! And my next thought, almost too terribly simple I also thought, God himself knows I've needed a mental health professional. And, in his great mercy has seen fit to orchestrate that good on my behalf. And he knows I've needed (and still do need) healing. And in his same great mercy that never wavers, he ordained some healing into his plan. The crux of this quote, just like the very simple gospel of Jesus, is that first we needed to be saved. Saved not from the edge of the precipice of doom. Doctors and psychiatrists can assist with that. Nor need we to be saved from economic despair. We, here, now, in this time, see the comedy and the tragedy in that. No educational plan or politician's motive can rescue. Not your favorite teacher, philosopher or entertainer. Socrates and Plato-they are fine purveyors of great truths and thought, but impotent to save you from your dark heart, and me, mine Not Martha Stewart. Not Oprah. Not Milton Friedman. Not William F. Buckley. Not Freud, Rogers, Maslow, et. al God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob may appoint who he deems fit to work out his sovereign plan, and will do so. Though all these folk have offered some good, none, not one, is equipped to redeem us from sin.

Jesus, the God-man speaking:

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father but through me.

- John 14:6

That old story. The gospel. I love to tell the story.

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