Friday, February 11, 2005

The wonder of the good news

As a preacher, I'm tempted to reduce the gospel to nothing more than steps for personal salvation. While this is certainly part of the gospel (perhaps even a neglected part), it does not express the good news in its fullest. Jesus is saving us from hell, yes. But he is also saving us to heaven, a Kingdom in which we will be in the presence of God, joyful eternally. And God is shaping us, transforming us right now in preparation for the day of resurrection. Something in the modern mind wants to formularize the life of the Spirit, to change the awesome power and mystery of Almighty God into something manageable and safe. Adam Ellis, quoting Gregory of Nicea in the last two sentences, expresses this idea in his article, "The Offense of Certainty":

What violence have we done to scripture and to God's dream when we reduce it to little iron-clad formulas? What damage have we done to the Way when we reduce the Gospel to steps one follows so that God has to take them? Concepts create idols. Only wonder understands.

There are many things we can be sure about: We are sinners (Rom. 3:23), but God loves us (1 Jn. 3:1) and calls us to repent (Acts 2:38). Christians are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8), and God wants us to grow more and more into the likeness of Jesus (Rom. 12:2). The gospel is simple, yes. But it is infinitely deep. To the lost it is the call to come home. To the saved, it is the power to grow up.


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