Tag Archive for 'gospel'

What is the gospel?

The gospel explained – How do you become a Christian? What does it mean to really believe in God? What does it mean to be saved or born again? What does the Bible say? What if I disagree with Scripture in the Bible? Do I need to pray a special prayer to “accept Jesus as my personal savior” and “invite Jesus into my heart”? (Hint: the Bible doesn’t say that.)

It’s on the long side, but did you ever notice how long the speeches are in Acts? And Stephen’s was cut off. There are shorter ones in the Bible, but when Jesus gave sermons and Paul argued, explained and proclaimed the Gospel in the synagogues, they weren’t verbally tweeting or trying to be as succinct. I don’t think we need to necessarily cater to shorter attention spans. If people want to know; if people are stirred by the Spirit, I think they will read it.

Let me know what you think of this presentation.

Laminin and Gimmicky Christianity

Louie Giglio has been in the news. I’d like to write about something different. I actually saw a Laminin graphic before the news came up and wanted to write a post about it. I also want to say right away that I don’t hate Louie Giglio or think he’s a heretic. I know he’s done a lot of good for youth but beyond that I don’t know a lot about him. I’m writing here about gimmicks and not using the plain gospel or ‘mere Christianity’. I found a quote by Spurgeon that I think goes with it quite well. It’s easy for some people in this age of social media, blogs and video sites to get caught up in things like this.

Laminin is something that pastor Louie Giglio made popular quite a while ago. I watched the whole long version of the video. I just saw this resurface on social media. Giglio spends a lot of time explaining what a scientist told him. He is telling us that Laminin is what holds us together. Here is a graphic of what people have put together to describe Laminin (click to see larger-Esc to come back):

Laminin - Giglio

Here is what it looks like under a microscope (full size):

Laminin Microscope

Here is an abbreviated version of his talk in case you would want to spend or waste the time watching it:

Here is a regular teenager in a low quality video talking about Laminin in realistic terms. I love how he ends it. No fancy multi-media:

Do we need gimmicks? Do we need to spend that much time talking about a spurious scientific idea, along with all of the accouterments of multi-media to convince people to believe, or to strengthen their faith?

Are you afraid that preaching the gospel will not win souls? Are you despondent as to success in God’s way? Is this why you pine for clever oratory? … After all, is it by might and power, and not by the Spirit of God?

In this house we have proved successfully, these many years, this great truth, that the gospel plainly preached will gain an audience, convert sinners, and build up and sustain a church. We beseech the people of God to mark that there is no need to try doubtful expedients and questionable methods. God will save by the gospel still: only let it be the gospel in its purity. This grand old sword will cleave a man’s chine [i.e., spine], and split a rock in halves.

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1888, vol. 34, p. 563

HT: Why Spurgeon Thought the Plain Preaching of the Gospel Was Sufficient to Grow a Church – Justin Taylor

Also see:
Hip and Thigh: The Laminin Molecule and the Inadequacies of Evidentialism

Preach To Myself?

It’s been a popular idea to preach the gospel to yourself everyday. If you’re not familiar with what exactly to preach to yourself (or if you are), here is a good article by Tullian Tchividjian.

The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of me and my performance and more of Jesus and his performance for me. Ironically, when we focus mostly on our need to get better we actually get worse. We become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with my effort over God’s effort for me makes me increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective.

Christian growth, in other words, does not happen first by behaving better, but believing better–believing in bigger, deeper, brighter ways what Christ has already secured for sinners.

Read the whole article.

Quote of the Day: Gospel and Politics

The tragedy is that American Christianity has so closely allied itself with the government of the day that the transcendent Gospel has become submerged in the world’s values.

–David Alan Black, The Jesus Paradigm by pg. 66

Quoted in TC’s review of the book.

I hate politics. (That’s not Black’s point though.)

The Jesus Paradigm

What actions preach the gospel?

I have often heard “The Gospel is preached more loudly by actions rather than words.” What actions would these be? What Scripture supports this?

Small Talk

I hate small talk.

But small talk becomes tiny talk and insignificant blather when it circles in on itself time and again. It’s like coffee hour at some churches, where the conversation remains exceedingly trivial Sunday after Sunday, stuck in the weather, the stock market, and (for Chicagoans) ‘da Bears.’ Church coffee hour that doesn’t lead to anything deeper (like joining a Bible study or small group or missions team) is something we quickly dread.

–Mark Galli, An Entertaining Saboteur

[W]e all too often give very little thought to the gossip and idle talk (reeking, as is nearly always the case, with mordant sarcasm and cheap humor) to which we commit enormous amounts of time and energy, and much less ponder the ultimate (eternal!) implications of these seemingly trivial activities. In this we too betray our true character, and thereby sign our sentence of condemnation. For this we will be held accountable.

But wouldn’t it be wonderful if we left all such nonsense behind, and committed all of that time and energy to gossiping the Gospel, instead?

–Esteban Vázquez, Gossiping the Gospel

Posted while dealing with health issues through the magic of scheduled posts.

Women in the Gospel of Mark

The late Alan Cole, in the introduction to his commentary on Mark has a section about women. I’d like to outline what he says and start off with a quote he writes at the end of the section, which is just as true today as when he wrote it.

[W]omen take their natural place as followers of Jesus alongside men, with no special comment, in this the first story of Jesus* and his earliest disciples. Mark is sometimes described as a ‘primitive’ gospel, but this attitude shows true Christian maturity and naturalness of approach, to which it is hard to feel that we have attained today, in spite of all our artificial striving for it. Perhaps the simplicity of the Spirit brings more balance than all the complicated theological argument on either side, with their ‘special pleading’, that we so often hear today.

* meaning “the earliest Christian gospel”

  • Jesus had a close group of women followers, several of whom are named in Mark — Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of James and Joses, and Salome, for instance (Mark 15:40; 15:47; 16:1).
  • A young girl, daughter of Jairus, raised from the dead, is the first recorded miracle that Jesus performed (Mark 5:23). She was addressed as ‘talitha’, ‘child’ (Mark 5:41). The girl’s mother was called in to witness her resurrection along with her father which shows a “thoughtfulness and consideration for women rarely seen in the ancient world.”
  • On the way to the house of Jairus Jesus healed a woman of a long-standing hemorrhage. She was addressed as ‘daughter’ (Mark 5:34); also signifying she was saved and forgiven her sins. Her faith is singled out for praise by Jesus (Mark 5:34). Mark records these as matter of fact without comment.
  • Jesus was identified as ‘Mary’s son’.
  • Jesus saw women and men equally as God’s creation (Mark 10:6) and demanded that women, as much as men, should be protected in marriage, disagreeing with the Pharisees interpretation of the law of Moses regarding divorce (Mark 10:11).
  • Jesus rebuked the disciples when they tried to deny mothers from bringing their children to Him for a blessing.
  • Jesus saw the giving up of sisters, mother or wife as great a sacrifice for the kingdom as giving up brothers or father (Mark 10:29).
  • Jesus seemed to have special concern for mothers with young children who would be living during the trials of the end times (Mark 13:17).
  • A woman anointed Jesus’ head with costly perfume at a meal that took place at Simon the leper’s house (Mark 14:3). “Wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” (Mark 14:9)
  • The women disciples stayed and watched Jesus while He was on the cross (and some say women are emotionally weaker?).
  • Women disciples were witnesses to both his death and resurrection even though Jewish law wouldn’t accept the testimony of women as evidence.

Addendum: Coincidentally, there have been quite a few posts on women’s issues lately. I just want to be clear in that this post isn’t in response to any of them. I just happened to have this in the hopper for a while. I will say though that in his actions and words, Jesus was a feminist as far as advocating equality for women without needing to explicitly say so, as Mark demonstrates. It should be obvious.


Photo © Jeff at Scripture Zealot

Some Conclusions Confirmed In Studying 1 Corinthians 1

1 Corinthians

I had come up with some conclusions in reading and studying the 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5 passage on my own, under the Holy Spirit of course (see the other blog if you want various boring details).

  1. The second half of verse 17 really goes with the rest of the chapter even though there is a paragraph break in most translations
  2. Verse 19 (For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Isaiah 29:14) is nothing new and Paul is stating a timeless truth (not that other truths aren’t timeless)
  3. Verse 29 is the crux of the whole chapter
  4. This passage (1 Corinthians 1:17-31) is key to the whole book and to Paul’s rhetoric in delivery and content of the gospel message

Most of these things may seem obvious. After this I read Fee’s commentary on 1 Corinthians on this passage and he mentions the things noted above. I like his commentaries because he often answers questions I have and he doesn’t just exegete each verse or paragraph, he gets to what’s really important about a passage, how it fits with the rest of the chapter, book, writer etc. and why.

1. He says that it’s unfortunate that there is a paragraph break in most English translations between verse 17 and 18 because the “for” at the beginning of verse 18 ties it to verse 17 as an explanation of the final clause in that verse.

2. Fee says that the wisdom of the crucifixion is the fulfillment of the Isaiah passage.

3. He says, “With this clause Paul expresses the ultimate purpose of the divine folly: ‘so that no one may boast before him'”.


This paragraph [1 Corinthians 1:18-25] is crucial not only to the present argument (1:10-4:21) but to the entire letter as well. Indeed, it is one of the truly great moments in the apostle Paul. Here he argues, with OT support, that what God had always intended and had foretold in the prophets, he has now accomplished through the crucifixion: He has brought an end to human self-sufficiency as it is evidenced through human wisdom and devices.

I’ve also read Barrett and will be rereading Garland (on this passage) which I read a few months ago. I’m not implying that Fee is always right and if my assertions agree with him they are automatically correct. But Fee’s commentary seems to speak better for lack of a better term. I always seem to like his style. It’s gratifying to see some of the work on this may be going in the right direction.

In studying 1 Corinthians in our group study, I decided to concentrate on this passage and I can’t say how valuable it’s been.

More posts to come.

Colossians and the Gospel Based On Christ

Colossians 2:3-8 HCSB
In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.
4 I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments. 5 For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the strength of your faith in Christ. 6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

It was essential to listen to Paul’s warning in his own day: it is even more essential to heed it in our day when the arts of persuasion, and the means by which they can be exercised, are so highly developed. There is a fresh responsibility laid on Christians to examine all teaching for the truthfulness of its content rather than the attractiveness of its packaging. There is a new call to be sceptical of exaggerated rhetoric, the tendentious anecdote, or the theatrical appeal, for nothing is so dangerous as feeble reasoning allied to fast talking.

–R.C. Lucas, The Message of Colossians & Philemon, 1980

Paul’s answer for his friends was startlingly simple; the mystery of all mysteries was the (now public) good news of what Jesus did on the cross for his people (Colossians 1:28-2:5). Moreover, Paul made it plain that maturity came through understanding this gospel better and better, not through laws, experiences and revelations.

–Mark Strom, The Symphony of Scripture

I’m learning the basic gospel message as revealed through Christ is of central importance not just to salvation and then we move on to other things; it is always of central importance.

To preach the gospel to yourself, then, means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life. It means that you appropriate, again by faith, the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God, that He is your propitiation, and that God’s holy wrath is no longer directed toward you.”

“This is the gospel by which we were saved, and it is the gospel by which we must live every day of our Christian lives…If you are not firmly rooted in the gospel and have not learned to preach it to yourself every day, you will soon become discouraged and will slack off in your pursuit of holiness.

–Jerry Bridges

Colossians has become one of my favorites and I will revisit it in the future.

Here is a related post I came across:
A Sense of Christ’s Sufficiency

Speaking The Truth In Love

Ephesians 4:15 NRSV (all)
…speaking the truth in love…

I always thought of this as synonymous with “tough love”. Which would be something like pointing out someone’s fault(s)–something they might not want to hear, but doing it with an attitude of love. This is the only way I’ve heard anyone use this phrase.

Is that what Paul means here?

First, the immediate context:

Ephesians 4:14-15
We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

Paul is speaking about doctrine or teaching here.

Edit: Quotes from O’Brien’s commentary:

A sharp contrast…is drawn between the final words of v. 14 and this opening clause of v. 15. Over against the ‘crafty scheming’ stands the expression in love (a key phrase in the letter), while speaking the truth is set in opposition to the words ‘of error’. Thus, speaking the truth in love lays out a twofold contrast with the false teachers: the latter were presenting false doctrine in a deceptive manner, but over against this God’s people are to grow through proclaiming the truth in love.

…the apostle is not exhorting his readers to truthfulness in general or speaking honestly with one another, however appropriate or important this may be. Rather, he wants all of them to be members of a ‘confessing’ church, with the content of their testimony to be ‘the word of truth’, the gospel of their salvation.

What is the truth?

Colossians 1:5
You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel

Galatians 2:5
we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you.

Galatians 2:14
But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Ephesians 1:13
In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit;

A passage that is similar to Ephesians 4:14-15:

Philippians 1:15-17
Some proclaim Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill. 16 These proclaim Christ out of love, knowing that I have been put here for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but intending to increase my suffering in my imprisonment.

By proclaiming the truth and speaking sound doctrine (Titus 1:9, Titus 2:10) to each other “we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,”.

Normally I would stop there and smugly think that now I know that speaking the truth in love isn’t about rebuking someone (edit: related to their own personal faults and unrelated to doctrine or the gospel). But the in love part is important and shouldn’t be overlooked.

When talking about doctrine to a fellow brother or sister, or proclaiming the gospel, it should be out of love. I don’t think I would ever do these things deceitfully, but selfish ambition of some sort is definitely a possibility. I could try to get somebody to come over to “my side”, convince them to have the same doctrine as me, show them how much knowledge I think I have about something etc. My attitude should be to have their best interests in mind (Philippians 2:4, Ephesians 4:29) out of love for them and most of all to glorify God.

Romans 15:5-6
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Making the Gospel Seeker Sensitive

There have been volumes written against making the gospel more palatable for those who are “seekers”, whatever that means, and contextualizing the gospel, for which there are many definitions.

I think it can be narrowed down to this:

1 Corinthians 1:18 NASB
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

I would gather that seeker-sensitive preachers and evangelists don’t want to make the the gospel sound like foolishness. But if we make it more palatable and use logic and worldly wisdom so that people will accept it on an intellectual level without truly believing, they are putting some of them on rocky soil right from the start. Is that what we want to do to people?

2 Peter 2:21 NRSV
For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment that was passed on to them.

Jesus and Paul didn’t make it easy enter the kingdom. (Matt 7:13-14, Matt 19:21-22)

Regarding the cross as foolishness, here are some quotes from commentators:

Longenecker, Galatians:

Today, after almost two millennia of the cross as a sacred symbol, it is difficult for Christians to appreciate the repugnance and horror with which the cross was viewed among both Jews and Gentiles in the first century. The only things comparable in our day would be venerating an electric chair or wearing a hangman’s noose around our necks as a symbol of our religious devotion. Indeed, as Paul says in 1 Cor 1:23, the proclamation of ‘Christ crucified’ was ‘a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.’

Garland, 1 Corinthians:

He [Paul] does not say that he preached the resurrected Christ, but the crucified Christ. Crucifixion and resurrection belong together as part of the gospel story (1 Cor 15:3-5), but the cross was repugnant to ancient sensibilities and assailed the world’s self-centeredness and self-destructive ways. It was not yet the ‘old rugged cross’ sentimentalized in hymns, embalmed in stained-glass windows, perched on marble altars, or fashioned into gold charms.

Christianity was cradled in what looks like disastrous defeat, and the unspeakable stigma of the cross exposed the preacher of this message to woeful contempt. Paul, however, did not refer to Jesus’ death with embarrassment or skip over the awkward facts.

…the message of the cross is an antidote to human self-glorification.

Paul left…yielding, to the persuasion of the Spirit.

Memorize the Gospel

God instructs us in the Psalms to store up His Word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). I love that picture God wants us to tuck His promises into our heart so that, no matter where we are or what we’re doing, we can pull them out and be strengthened by their truth.

…practice what my friend Mike Bullmore calls ‘strategic Scripture memory.’ Start with passages that define and describe the gospel.

Here is the Scripture that C.J. Mahaney lists:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:21
  • Romans 8:31-34
  • Isaiah 53:3-6
  • Romans 3:23-26
  • Romans 5:6-11
  • 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
  • Galatians 2:21

Legalism and Low Grade Guilt

Here are a couple of quotes from Living the Cross Centered Life that I think go together.

Here’s a simple definition I use: Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and justification before God through obedience to God.

A legalist is anyone who behaves as if they can earn God’s forgiveness through personal performance.

The subtle and serious error of legalism is a sinful fruit from sinful roots.

Thomas Schreiner writes that ‘legalism has its origin in self worship. If people are justified through their obedience to the law, then they merit praise, honor and glory. Legalism, in other words, means the glory goes to people rather than God.’

That’s how serious legalism is. The implications are staggering, because legalism claims in essence that the death of Jesus on the cross was either unnecessary or insufficient. It says to God, in effect, ‘Your plan didn’t work. The cross wasn’t enough and I need to add my good works to it to be saved.’

Philippians 3:9
not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–

Do you see any traces of condemnation in your life? Don’t be surprisee if you do. But don’t keep carrying the burden! Because of the gospel’s power you can be completely free of all condemnation.

Not mostly free; completely free.

Don’t buy the lie that cultivating condemnation and wallowing in your shame is somehow pleasing to God, or that a constant, low-grade guilt will somehow promote holiness and spiritual maturity.

It’s just the opposite! God is glorified when we believe with all our hearts that those who trust in Christ can never be condemned. It’s only when we receive His free gift of grace and live in the good of total forgiveness that we’re able to turn from old, sinful ways of living and walk in grace-motivated obedience.

Isaiah 1:18, Romans 8:1, Hebrews 11:6, 1 Peter 3:18

The Gospel-Driven Life

‘Early in my Christian life, I thought the Gospel was the message to win people to Christ, then, in disciple-making, one moved on to “deeper things.” What a fallacy! You never move beyond the Gospel.’

‘A steady delivery of brochures to my office offer conferences that will help the church “make the Gospel relevant.” Betsy Childs, a daughter of our church and writer for Ravi Zacharias, in commenting on this phenomenon, writes: “Why would we think the Gospel is irrelevant?” She is right. Nothing is more relevant than the Gospel.’

Please read the whole article:
The Gospel-Driven Life by Harry L. Reeder III, Ligonier Ministries | Tabletalk Magazine