May 26, 2020

Open Mic at the iMonk Cafe: How do Christians “Live In the Gospel”?

Chaplain Mike posts today’s Open Mic topic.

From an excellent article posted today at Leadership Journal called, “The Everyday Gospel,” by Tullian Tchividjian comes this quote:

I once assumed the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, while afterward we advance to deeper theological waters. But I’ve come to realize that the gospel isn’t the first step in a stairway of truths, but more like the hub in a wheel of truth. As Tim Keller explains it, the gospel isn’t simply the ABCs of Christianity, but the A-through-Z. In other words, once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel, but to move them more deeply into it.

…After meditating on Paul’s words, a friend told me that all our problems in life stem from our failure to apply the gospel. This means I can’t really move forward unless I learn more thoroughly the gospel’s content and how to apply it to all of life. Real change does not and cannot come independently of the gospel. God intends his Good News in Christ to mold and shape us at every point and in every way. It increasingly defines the way we think, feel, and live.

I too have held and heard this incomplete understanding of the Gospel as I have lived and served among believers over the years. Today, I think differently. Now my aim is to continually grow in my grasp of how the Gospel is for me and applies to me, a Christian.

How about you? What does it mean for you, as a Christian, to believe and live in the Gospel?

Comments

  1. Patrick Lynch says

    To me it means arguing on the internet.

    • And you are doing well, Grasshopper.

      • LOL

      • I really want to achieve Grasshopper status…oh no…that means I am screwed doesn’t it?

        I think the gospel connects me to Christ…and He says without me, you can do nothing…so i don’t ever move past the gospel…but always more deeply into it and the understanding of my complete need for it. Is there ever a point where I can be past my complete need for the gospel and the provisions of Christ? All I can say about the Hebrews passages is that when I move past the provision of Christ…I don’t seem to become more like Christ, but more like man, more self sufficient, self centered, and self reliant. And I have seen that in evidence of people who no longer care about their provision for salvation but the benefits for this life. So I am a little lost in applying that scripture to a life of humility and understanding of the gift of salvation in a body that greatly lacks gratitiude, which is me:)

        • Oh no Mike!

          I have those same feelings!

          comfort yourself in two ways:

          take comfort that you can know exactly what looks like god pleasing earthly righteousness here on earth: it looks like selfdiscipline + love for neighbor. Love = actions that make your neighbors earthly life better. Now get out there and get busy with a song in your heart. No task is too humble or small if it serves Christ!

          then, since you will fail again and again at this, take comfort in imagining the Righteousness of Christ as a vast canopy that covers all the flaw in your efforts or lack of them in improving the life of your neighbor.

    • (Laughing) Yes me too! and learning to be more gentle and less snarky along the way.

      • Good! that is true righteousness, pleasing to God. self-discipline, but there should also be something in there about making the lives of the other readers here better. Self restraint is good but only half righteousness right?

        • hmmm… having a little trouble parsing that…. I may have to get back to you,

          Unless you mean that “being nice and silent” but not sharing my gifts and speaking up when the spirit moves me would be a failure?

  2. At the risk of reversing Tchividjian’s analogy of wading into deeper waters –
    If I was drowning in the middle of the ocean during a storm, and a small boat came along and I was pulled out of the water, I would say to myself, “I’m saved”! But my process of being saved isn’t really completed until I’m back on dry land. The fundamental thing of salvation is to not get my lungs filled with water, but at some point the process of salvation moves beyond the initial extraction to a bigger picture of what it means to be completely saved.
    Hebrews 6:1-2 “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”
    The teachings that the writer of Hebrews tells us to leave behind are some of the biggest issues of salvation: repentance, faith, resurrection, eternal life!
    Moving deeper into the gospel means getting a bigger vision of what salvation is about. If it is like the hub of the wheel, then the writer of Hebrews seems to think that wheel ought to be going somewhere, and not returning to glorious – but elemental – things.

  3. To me it means to embrace my continued brokenness. To confess my sins often to God, and to seek support from my small group at church. Thank you God for continuing to love and forgive me when I continue to screw up after all of these years. I rely on the Good News of His forgiveness daily.

    • Me too Jill. I need His grace daily. Because I am continually receiving His grace I want to extend it to others.

      • Jill this is “the one thing needed”. You are the daughter of mary rather than martha. Good for you. You will have the one thing that will not perish with the earth. Jesus! so you will live forever!

        Now that you have what is incorruptable in Christ as your Savior, you can now follow Christ as Example back into the world as he went, in order to exercise self discipline and love your neighbor, do things small and large that make the earthly life of those around you just a bit better.

        You will fail at this. Then return to that Christ as Savior and let him Love you. Just as you are. Let his blood be the cover of Righteousness for all that goes wrong as you try to love your neighbor.

        God bless you in this.

  4. Because Christ is the gospel, I suppose it’s to enjoy and proclaim the goodness of God that we see in Christ, and to let him fill me to overflowing.

    Take care & God bless
    WF

  5. Living out the gospel… A phrase I have been wrestling and agonizing over extensively for about the last year or so of my life… It has increasingly become central to my quest for meaning in life having served two churches as a music minister over the last four years, being run out of one and watching a split in the other.

    Why do we do this? Why are we failing? What precisely is our mission and what does it really look like to walk in right relationship with God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit? (…might I add and then how are we supposed to do it as a community?)

    A maxim I cling to is that God’s will is pretty dependably found in that which I least want to do. And for me right now, the only thing I can think of to answer this question and my own wonderings about the nature of a “Jesus shaped spirituality” must find their roots in the context of Matthew 18:28-35 and Luke 7:47.

    I think for me right now the one word “forgiveness” best answers this question. Because it’s something I cannot do but desperately seek. There are people who have been in my life whom I at one time thought were close friends, and now I am very certain that I will never speak to them again. And the worst part is that I do not want that to change. How am I supposed to “forgive my brother from my heart?”

    I’ve prayed and asked God for strength to forgive. And I really just feel like at times that those prayers are bouncing off of the ceiling. I strongly desire the strength to forgive but yet at the same time I do not want to let some things go. I feel like Saint Augustine when he said, “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet…” My wife and I are leaving the ministry now not because we feel burnt or let down, but because we just want day jobs.

    I suppose that ultimately the correct answer to this question is that to believe the Gospel is to be looking to Jesus, and to live the Gospel is to be walking in dependence upon God alone as our source of strength, so that His power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. I just keep thinking of Jesus on the cross offering forgiveness to his crucifiers….

    • I can’t remember where I read this although it may have been to do with Middle East reconciliation: the divides and splits in Christianity might take a lesson from a suggestion given for the healing of breaches.
      The idea is a simple one. A task is given to each side. The opposing side must come to understand and to express openly how the ‘other side’ perceived injury and has suffered as a result of the breach. This is done in reverse also. The effect is to help each opposing side come to understand the other, as they themselves would want to be understood. It requires the gift of taking time to listen deeply and to be able to put into words the pain that is felt by the ‘opponent’.
      Once this is done, the two sides cannot then go back to where they were ‘before’. They can move forward from the experience, as now they each have come to see the ‘other’ through new eyes.
      How does this tie in to ‘living the Gospel’. It is to do with seeing beyond our own selfishness into the needs of others, even those we have counted as enemies. It has to do with treating those we have rejected as though they were valued enough to listen to, and to make an attempt to understand. It has to do with setting the stage for the possibility of forgiveness, reconciliation, renewal, and the peace of Christ.
      ‘Do not do to another that which you would not want done to yourself’ the rabbis taught.
      The Gospel asks ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.
      And beyond that: ‘love one another as I have loved you’. ‘Beyond’ . . the Gospel leads us to a new way to live, and we are changed in the process.

      • “How does this tie in to ‘living the Gospel’. It is to do with seeing beyond our own selfishness into the needs of others, even those we have counted as enemies. ”

        you are exactly right! pagans can do ALL this. no faith and no christ and no christianity are needed to do this. this is about earthly righteousness and has nothing at all then to do with the Gospel.

        Gospel=Jesus Christ ALONE. ONLY. EXCLUDING ALL ELSE.

        • But Christ is compassion for others.
          The mean-spirited idea that ‘love’ is weak and ineffective is not only mis-guided, but destructive. The Christ of the Gospels said, ‘love your enemies’, ‘do good to those who despise you’, Your teaching ignores His Commandments. If you ‘believe in Him, you will FOLLOW His Commandments.

          And how can we humans possibly love our enemies, and do good to those who hurt us?
          Corrie Ten Boom once said:
          ‘If Jesus gives the Commandment, He will give us the grace to do it’.

          I reject any ‘religion’ that uses the Holy Name of Christ and ignores His teachings and Commandments.

        • Sure pagans CAN do all this, but if Jesus commanded “X” and we do “X” for love of Christ, then it’s not works righteousness, but “Caritas pro Deus” (love for God) that inspires us to do good for his greater glory. Faithful Christians always give God the glory. Deo gratias (Thanks be to God), as we say in the RCC.

  6. For me living in the gospel means that every day, multiple times every day I need to come back to the cross. The same act of self-denial and Christ-affirmation when I first believed, is repeated. Lately for me learning the gospel has been realizing that the gospel is a seed that grows. The gospel sometimes surprises us by being less “significant” and “obvious” than we expect.

  7. My favorite word, for going on two years now, is “paradigm.”

    For me, living in the Gospel is a matter of “inseminating” my mind, at every level and in every category, with the paradigm of the Gospel. The non-Gospel paradigms that I have been conditioned by are the soil out of which my sin grows. That poisoned soil must be replaced.

    A simple example: Much of my conditioning has been towards please others. I am taught to fear the opinions of men, and desire to be well thought of, as a matter of first importance. I am expected to conform to cultural norms even at the cost of truth, and establish my desires as the highest goal. The need to establish self produces fear. Fear drives me to see to it that my agenda is secured at the expense of the love that is required of me for the person next to me. The Gospel paradigm uproots that fear by establishing my approved-ness, belonging, and desires in Jesus. I am then free to love recklessly, even at the expense of my status, security, approval, wealth, power, reputation, friends, job, or whatever, because these things cease to enthrall me.

    That’s the gist. There’s lots of different ways of saying it I guess. This particular ongoing paradigm shift has been a big one for me.

    Nate

    • “Brother, can you ‘paradigm’?”

    • “living the Gospel” is about looking at christ alone. this is invisible inner righteousness. This is true unperishable righteousness.

      but there is another righteousness that is also pleasing to god and is outward. it is earthly. it is self discipline + love for neighbor. love = actions that make the earthly life of your neighbor better.

      These are the only two paradymns you need to have not just the gist but the all.

      Christ as savior and christ as example.

      the Righteousness of christ as savior will endure along with you who live in it.

      the Example of Christ and those who seek to live there, will die with the earth.

  8. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    I can tell you what it DOESN’T mean:

    Young Earth Creationism Uber Alles, Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist, and Culture War Without End, Amen.

    Spread the word.

    • But Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Antichrist is my favorite drinking game. All you need is a blindfold, a pointy object, a Bible prophecy time line chart (complete with scary illustrations of the four beasts from Daniel), a copy of the New York Times, and a full keg — and then just let the good times roll.

    • Very funny. I can also tell you what it doesn’t mean either: being pro-homosexual lifestyle for the sake of unity, socialist economics under a Christian banner, and advocacy of postmodernism for the sake of allowing as many people with differing opinions to feel embraced by the other.

      • Gosh it really is that always difficult tight rope isn’t it? On the one hand I want to extend God’s grace to everyone; on the other hand I have to be honest about sin. Saying something is OK when God says it is not, doesn’t do anyone any good. I guess for me it’s about learning when I need to actually say something and when I just need to pray for people.

    • hang it all HUG…..I just FedExed you the Anti-Christ game: use if for a white elephant gift at Christmas, Hannakuh, or Kwanza……..

      GR

    • *Off Topic* “Young Earth Creationism” and all it entails, in the context of over 2000 years of scientific discovery, essentially calls God a liar, since God is the author of the universe, the writer of the very laws of science, especially physics.

  9. We have another name for this incomplete gospel: evangelical antinomianism. Too many professing Christians today think that because they said a formulaic prayer as a teen, was baptized, signed a card at a conference, grew up in a Christian environment, etc. that they are divinely forgiven, justified, adopted, regenerated, and soon to be glorified. I am by no means advocating that true believers will be practically perfect in this life (the Wesleyan Perfectionist error), but that there will be tangible and substantial evidence that the person has truly been engulfed by the gospel of Christ. Even people like Lot, Samson, and the immature Corinthians were not totally devoid of experiencing the life-changing power of the gospel. The full gospel is basically this: bending your knee to Christ in humble faith and detaching yourself from the things of this sinful world.

    • Me bowing and detaching? If that’s the full gospel, I’m screwed.

      • Genuine faith involves works. True faith leads to humble repentance. One cannot have Christ as justifier without also sanctifier (or as Saviour but not Lord). Thus, genuine faith involves bending one’s knee to Christ and detaching yourself from the things of this world. I’m not advocating perfection like some Wesleyans. What I am advocating, and this is supported biblically, is that the willingness to live a life and have an attitude that is substantially different from non-believers is a fruit of genuine faith. All this, however, is due to God’s grace. Sadly, many people at the last judgment will find themselves “screwed” because they did not truly embrace Jesus Christ and live out the demands of the gospel.

        • “Genuine faith involved works”…true, but you are talking about a response to the gospel, not the gospel itself. Your original comment referred to the full gospel. Sorry if I misunderstood.

          “Sadly, many people at the last judgment will find themselves “screwed” because they did not truly embrace Jesus Christ and live out the demands of the gospel.” – So salvation requires truly embracing Jesus and living out the demands of the gospel? Again, if this is the case, I’m toast. I think I understand what you’re saying, but be careful not to put the cart in front of the horse when it comes to justification and sanctification, faith and works.

          • I am not pitting the cart in front of the horse. I know the distinction between justification and sanctification. What I am saying is that where there is fire there will be smoke. I am not mixing God’s legal declaration with what happens to us after (like the Roman Catholics and Orthodox). Yes, we are to live out the demands of the gospel. It may surprise you, but the new covenant also has requirements. One of those requirements being that we obey God. Of course, this obedience is not due to any strength within ourselves but by the sheer grace and power of God.

          • Clay, you don’t have to be perfect, but you are supposed to try. You will fail, but that’s just a test of your faith. Really, if you trust Christ, He will raise you back up on your feet, dust you off, and show you the Way. If you think you’re “screwed,” Satan has won. This is despair. Despair is the sin against the Holy Spirit, the sin that says “I’m too bad to be forgiven.”

    • What exactly is antinomian about it? the whole point about Tullian’s statement is being “engulfed by the gospel of Christ” as you put it. I agree,by the way, with what you said about the formulaic prayer, etc. But I don’t believe there’s anything antinomian about the original post, if that’s what you’re suggesting.

      • Nate, I never suggested that Tullian’s statement was antinomian. I was just pointing out how I understand what he is trying to point out, especially this statement: “God intends his Good News in Christ to mold and shape us at every point and in every way. It increasingly defines the way we think, feel, and live.” Growing up in church and attending a theological school I have witnessed many people who profess Christ and yet are devoid of the power that the gospel brings to those embrace it. I’m not talking about those who are involved in gross sins either. Many of them are usually outwardly moral and have a clean criminal record, but are still worldly, compromising, and self-absorbed that you wonder to yourself “How can this person be a regenerated person?”

        • According to Steve Brown, the gospel is often mistaken for antinomianism, even when it comes from the mouth of Jesus or St. Paul. I think he’s sometimes right.

          • Someone said, if we’re not being accused of antinomianism, we’re not preaching the gospel correctly.

          • Yes, I heard that from Steve Brown and Martyn Lloyd-Jones (that someone that Nate is referring to). However, the point that they are making is that when it comes to justification we can never merit it by our works. Justification is through sola fide. Yet, Brown and Lloyd-Jones would never separate justification with sanctification. Both would strongly affirm that changed life and appetites is a sure sign of regeneracy. Let me quote you Lloyd-Jones: “Let us concentrate upon being certain that we have the divine nature, that we are partakers of it, that the tree is good; because if the tree is good, the fruit also must of necessity be good” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, p. 515). Those who profess Christianity but produce nothing (or bad fruits) have no right to assurance, in fact, they are in danger of hell.

          • So, does the Gospel have no impact on Sanctification? If not, then it really is only for the unsaved. I’m convinced that God’s grace and the Gospel are just as big a part of sanctification as they are in justification. To whit: we don’t get better by simply trying harder. And that’s definitely something that Brown teaches over and over again. Read A Scandalous Freedom. Here’s a quote from early in the book:

            Many of us say, ‘As Christians, of course we’re free — but that doesn’t mean we’re free to do whatever we want.’ But if we aren’t free to do what we want, then we aren’t really free. . . . Or if we are, it is a weird sort of freedom.

            Talk about something that sounds antinomian! And he ain’t talkin’ about justification here.

          • The problem with antinomianism is it’s a slippery slope that leads to people believing they are saved, yet still practice abject moral depravity. We delude ourselves when we claim to be saved, yet still unrepentantly practice all manner of depravity.

    • “The full gospel is basically this: bending your knee to Christ in humble faith and detaching yourself from the things of this sinful world.”

      so then Mark is telling us here that “christian” and “salvation ” are defined as :

      invisible faith in Christ + a sense-ible something else.

      St Paul says something radically different in Romans 8.

  10. Christopher Lake says

    For me, believing and living in the Gospel means that I am no longer a cosmic orphan. I have been adopted by a Father who loves me when all others fail (similarly to how I myself fail to love them, all too often). I don’t have to live with personal comfort as my highest priority. I don’t have to live in a constant state of emotional self-protection, because God has my back (yes, a 36-year-old white man just used that phrase!).

    Believing and living in the Gospel means that I know what my biggest problem is– me (as in “selfish, sinful me,” not the “me” that God intends)! However, I don’t have to despair, because with God, there is always mercy– *not* mercy that smiles upon sin or overlooks it, but mercy that forgives and empowers for the daily, hourly, minute-by-minute battle against sin.

    Believing and living in the Gospel means that I not only strive to treat all people with basic human respect, but that I sometimes (I wish it were more often) even see people as they *actually are*– with a kind of wonder, befitting the reality of beholding others who are made in the image of God (!).

    Hopefully, believing and living in the Gospel means that I am at least as loving to people on the internet as I am to those whom I meet in the everyday physical world (so much room for improvement on both fronts).

    Ideally, believing and living in the Gospel is ONE thing that is becoming more and more of a reality in my life, not two concepts that I somehow have to “meld together. The Jews of the Old Testament, and I would argue, the early Christians, did not see believing and living as two different or seperate things, but really two sides of one coin.

    • “Believing and living in the Gospel means that I know what my biggest problem is– me ”
      great post !—–when a newspaper asked “what’s the greatest problem in the world today?
      G K Chesterton wrote them a letter which said:

      Dear Sirs,
      I am.
      Sincerely yours,
      G. K. Chesterton

    • Christopher: Nicely-put!

      Brian: The G.K Chesterton quote made me smile

      • Christopher Lake says

        Brian, Tracy, and Danielle,

        I was actually thinking of the Chesterton quote, and applying it to myself, when I wrote my own comment. 🙂 That man had more insight on his worst day than I have on my best! I’m thankful that my comment was helpful to you and others though! God bless you!

    • You said well what I would have posted. I would only add that while my flesh wants to see other’s faults and sins as big whereas mine are small, the gospel shows me that my sin is terrible and their sins are entirely forgivable in comparison to mine vs God.

  11. Louis Winthrop says

    God is love. Love is the greatest commandment, the new commandment, the greatest of the theological virtues. Anytime we love, to that degree we follow the gospel.

    Thing is–and now I’m going to go super-controversial on you–all those other rules and supposedly required beliefs don’t matter. Love trumps all, even belief in Christianity itself.

    Now, I recognize there are practical limitations. We can’t really ‘give to all who ask,’ for example. But the room for adventure / exploration is enormous. (Think Gandhi.)

    My two cents.

    • I love this. I would rather too far in this direction than not. If love is the root of all my obedience, I have obeyed, no matter what it looks like.

      Nate

      • Patrick Lynch says

        I totally disagree with this – not for theological reasons, but for humanistic ones though.

        Love can’t authorize anything; it’s an emotion. it doesn’t tell us right from wrong, good from bad, wholesome from corrupt, true from false, kind from cruel. At the end of the day, love is just as easily diverted as any other emotion.

        Lots of people do AWFUL things to each other out of deeply-felt love for one another. More, apparently, than you realize.

        • Louis Winthrop says

          As is well known, the word “love” is used in different ways. The emotion to which you refer is not the same as the biblical caritas, which I would translate as “caring.”

          Of course we might misunderstand what caritas asks of us, just as we might be mistaken about lower-tier moral questions.

          Think of it this way: The commandment says “Do not bear false witness,” but are there never any exceptions? For example, would it be permissible (or required) to lie in order to save a life? Surely yes, but why? I suggest the over-arching rule–the “super-commandment,” if you will–is love.

        • The biblical understanding of love, particularly in the Hebrew texts, is much closer to our ideas of fidelity and loyalty than romantic soap opera-y sentimentality.

          • Patrick Lynch says

            I don’t know that you can oppose fidelity and soap-opera-y sentimentality – Hosea is our Biblical model for fidelity, and you can’t get any more dramatic and sentimental than that guy’s story!

            I suspect that healthy people in any age or faith will naturally link the feeling of love with an expression of caring – regardless of how they parse the terms linguistically.

            As most of us are not moral philosophers, we can’t be expected to sit down and determine rationally what the ‘right thing to do’ is in every situation – besides our prayers, we have to rely on our religious and emotional instincts to guide us, which are quite corruptible and which will certainly lead us astray if we rely on them too much.

    • Louis Winthrop says

      Then I guess we just have different religious beliefs.

      • Well. I am in the good company of st paul. st james and martin luther. and I can demonstrate this not just by “proof texting ” or “cherry picking ” what they wrote. What I have written is the very point and spirit of all they have to say.

        Note that I am saying that Love for neighbor IS god pleasing and fully required , in fact demanded of us and all men, both christian and non christian alike, by God.

        I am at a loss to see what it is I wrote that you could disagree with dear brother Louis.

    • Christopher Lake says

      It just won’t work, finally, to say that Christianity is Christ and “not a set of tenets or propositions.” Who and what *is* Christ? What does He tell us about Himself (such as, He is God’s Son and God Himself), and what sort of choices does He tell us to make (such as, to love, give, forgive, share the truth about Him with others)?

      Christianity is not *only* about tenets and propostions, but it does contain them, necessarily– even in the communication to us of who and what Christ is (i.e. in the Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed). “No Creed but Christ” is ultimately self-refuting, because anytime a person says something about Christ, he/she has already formulated a sort of creed (even the person who doesn’t believe in Him).

  12. For me, living in the gospel has always been summed up in this simple statement from John:

    “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:7

    That is my daily bread.

  13. Nuno Fonseca says

    May I just question a pressuposition here?

    I don’t see the Gospel being defined in Scripture as being anything else than the proclamation (it is the ‘good news’, not an imperative) of Christ’s death on the Cross for the redemption of sinners and His ressurection and ascendence to Heaven, like Paul asserts it in I Corinthians 15:1-5. It’s a past action, not an appliance of any sort — we’re asked to believe it, not do it. It’s what Christ DID not what He would or will do.

    I’ve heard and read a lot from Keller, and I felt very attracted to his Gospel presentation, but I’ve always missed some sort of Scriptural base for his views. So maybe it’s a philosophical development of it, right? An extra-Biblical dénouement, perhaps? Recently I was reading my Catholic Bible, a Paulus Ed. Portuguese translation, and I came across the following footnote, which I will try to translate:

    ‘In the New Testament, the meaning of the word ‘Gospel’ evolved. For Paul, whose writings are the most ancient we find in the NT Canon, the Gospel was refered to as the ‘Good News’ of salvation to whoever believes. Paul associated the Gospel directly to Jesus, to His death and ressurection. As the Christian faith outgrew, the understanting of what the Gospel came to embrace also the Kigdom of God, of which Christ preached about. The Gospel was no longer solely linked to the salvific death and ressurrection of Jesus, but also His teachings, miracles, promises and demands’.

    So according the Catholic understanding, there’s the admission that, Scripturally, the Gospel is the proclamation of the death and ressurrection of Christ and the saving power therefrom to whoever believes; this only requires faith. However, the Catholic believer already knows that Scripture alone is not binding; hence his easy acceptance of these later additions, due to Sacred Tradition. Being that the Gospel is something more than a proclamation, and that it now includes *demands*, it’s obvious that salvation must include faith AND works in order for the Gospel to be *obeyed*.

    But how does this work in an Evangelical context, I’ve no idea. I guess much as changed in Protestantism in general. Keller already stated that a sinner is justified through faith and charity, which is a perfect enunciation of the Jesuit doctrine of ‘Evangelical obedience’. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

    To me, someone who was once wading across the Tiber and is now reconsidering Reformed theology, it’s a struggle between accepting the Gospel as it is stated in Scripture and obey it by believing it; or to accept the Gospel as it was broadly extended by Christendom, and obey it by believing it and working it out. The first one is monergistic and Christ-exclusivist; the latter is synergistic and man-inclusive. This is an inevitable dichotomy.

    Be free to help me out.

    Peace.

    • Check out the following link from Scott McKnight’s blog. You may find it helpful. It takes a look at the use of the word gospel throughout the bible and explores the fullness of its meaning in each context.

      http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/2009/02/the-gospel-series.html

    • Nuno: You ask the question “how does this work in an Evangelical context”. I don’t know, but in the Reformed Theology you referred to, it doesn’t work. I may be mistaken but I don’t think Keller states that a sinner is justified through faith and charity. I believe he says we are justified by faith period, i.e. faith in another and what the other has done. There no demands on us in order to be justified in the sense of our own charity or obedience. But Keller also says that if we understand the gospel, what has been done for us in Christ, and if we get our brain around what it says to us and our hearts begin to believe it, then that gospel will transform us. It will inevitably happen because God, the Holy Spirit applies the redemption,of which the gospel delares, to our heart and life. It is important to realize that,as someone else has said, reformed theology speaks of imputed righteousness (justification) followed by sanctification. It does not say what another form of teaching says, that is, imparted/infused righteousness is followed by jusfication.

    • “I don’t see the Gospel being … as being anything else than the proclamation (it is the ‘good news’, not an imperative) of Christ’s death on the Cross for the redemption of sinners and His ressurection and ascendence to Heaven, like Paul asserts it in I Corinthians 15:1-5. It’s a past action, not an appliance of any sort — we’re asked to believe it, not do it. It’s what Christ DID not what He would or will do. ”

      This is EXACTLY right. And even better, frame it as BEING Christ. Protestants tend to make faith or believe in tenants as what really saves in their actual informal presentation of things…

  14. Love the quote: “I once assumed the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, while afterward we advance to deeper theological waters. But I’ve come to realize that the gospel isn’t the first step in a stairway of truths, but more like the hub in a wheel of truth.”

    The gospel to me is, as I assume it should be, the good news. It’s the primary motivator of my thankfulness, which in turn is the motivator for everything I do. I often forget the gospel’s importance. As the quote says, I often want to search for new and improved information. I think the more I continue drawing closer to Jesus, the more I realize how absurd that really is.

    We don’t need more information. If you want information, google it. What we need is encouragement. What we need is to be reminded of what we already know so that it become certainty, a foundation, in our lives instead of just knowledge on a bookshelf in our heads.

    So that’s what the gospel is to me: the reminder that Christ loves me… and proved it.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  15. I think the deepest most vital thing I’ll do today is recognizing my need for rescue. I needed the gospel when I was a lonely teenager, and I need it even more today as a 30 year old minister.

    • I think the deepest most vital thing I’ll do today is recognizing my need for rescue.

      that really says it for me, and living the gospel , for me, means this is just as true today as when it first burst into the tomb that was my life. The elemental things aren’t discarded, they are built upon and the Life Source that is my GOD is forever my desperate need.

  16. I spent a lot of years thinking that spiritual maturity meant moving past the point of salvation (believing in the gospel) and into the “how to live a good Christian life” mentality. I spent a lot of time focusing on how to be a “good” Christian wife and mother and then feeling guilty when I didn’t live up (which was often). About two years ago that tidy little world I lived in began to fall apart around me and I had lots of questions. I still have more questions than answers, but now I am looking for Jesus instead of the 10 ways to be a better Christian whatever. It’s hard to articulate, but I feel like I see things differently and Jesus shows up in places I never knew he hung out in before.

  17. As a shameless promoter of the Lutheran Faith which I have grown up with and have learned to love, I want to just quote what Luther has to say about the matter in his Small Catechism:
    What does such baptizing with water indicate? It indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. Where is this written? St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the father, we too may live a new life.”
    now hopefully I haven’t used enough for CPH to sue me for copyright infringement….

    • Oh, the Anglican Book of Common Prayer has some good stuff along the same things in its catechism. Unfortunately, I don’t have my BCP on me right now. Nor do I have the BCP’s catechism anywhere near memorized.

    • of course the point of this is that we return to the forgiveness given to us in baptism daily. I always tell my parishoners that living the Christian life is not living the perfect life, not even, really, trying to live the perfect life, but living a forgiven life.
      The Gospel, people talk about obeying it. I think it even comes out that way in some poor English translations. But the Gospel means “Good News” I never hear anyone talking about obeying or living news, good or otherwise. Of course this good news is bound up with the fact that Christ died on the Cross and rose again on the third day, forgiving our sins. The good news is that our sins are forgiven. So believing this the Christian goes about living life, and swimming in the gospel of their baptism. To make the Gospel into something we would obey etc. would be to confuse it with something other than news. But we can live in forgiveness. In fact, we really can’t live without it.

  18. Good Tim Keller quote! To me applying the gospel means recognizing how all of us, saved and unsaved alike need God’s grace. It means giving individual folks the benifit of the doubt as a default, but taking what is said by the institutions of power with much more of a grain of salt. It means noticing how the simple faith of the old folks that knew my grandmother may just have more holiness than my own theologizing and religiousity. It means questioning things with honesty, especially when it comes to my own motivations. It means not having an obsession with being right. It means that I can sometimes hear Jesus’ footsteps in the writings of pagans, liberals, and folks that tend to piss me off rather than just with my own crew. It means that maybe I sometimes shouldn’t have “my own crew” in contradistinction with other folks’ crews. It means seeking to be formed into Jesus’ image while recognizing that this is an impossible goal. It means that by obsessing over Jesus more than my sin, He can help me take care of that sin problem in spite of myself. It means that love trumps law, though law is still important. It means that sometimes I need to get out of the way and let God sort stuff out.

  19. I like what you have written, Obed.

    • Thanks 🙂

      Honestly, I owe a lot of the relatively recent changes in my life on what it means to live the Gospel to iMonk and Steve Brown.

  20. I’m sorry, but when I read what Tchividjian actually writes it just sounds vacuous. I don’t get the impression that he has any idea what it means to “apply the Gospel.”

    Some comments here mention e.g. the biblical commands to love one another, to love God, etc. but I don’t see any of that in what Tchividjian actually says. Did Tchividjian mention love and I just overlooked it?

  21. For me it’s really about complete surrender to Jesus so that there is more of him and less of me. And do I ever fail at that. But it’s the goal: transformation of everything we are and do into the likeness and image of Christ so that we are Christ to others and so that others see Christ when they see us. Problem is, that’s really, really difficult. As St. Paul testifies, it’s a constant battle.

    The idea of simply”applying the gospel” makes it all sound so scientific, like a technical solution to an organizational problem, or the critical element in some recipe. But it’s so much deeper and richer and messier and holier and unspeakably beautiful than that, isn’t it?

    • amen! it is about the Incarnate Christ and being connected to that person intimately. It is not assent or application of formulas rules or methods.

  22. Wow. Lots of great comments.

    I guess for me, believing and living the Gospel are interconnected. Every day I have to make the decision to believe enough to obey. (Tough sometimes for a natural skeptic!)

    If the Gospel is that God is building a new kingdom in our midst under the authority of Jesus Christ, then believing/living that daily means aligning myself with this Kingdom – pledging allegiance to Christ, following his teachings, working to see God’s will done on earth as it is in heaven, being a part of a community that serves as a little (imperfect) picture of this kingdom, being a part of a marriage that serves as a little (imperfect) picture of this kingdom, and fiercely protecting the hope that someday this kingdom will reach fruition with the return of Christ.

    Most of the time I completely suck at this. Lord have mercy!

  23. believing,following, sinning, being healed x infinity = living the gospel

    • Sinning is not part of living the gospel. Where did you get that notion? In fact, sinning is repugnant to God.

  24. Living the Gospel means I need to forgive people every day and I need to be forgiven every day. It means I need to have hope even when all seems hopeless. It means I can approach God in prayer, knowing that God is closer to me through the Holy Spirit than I am to myself and that God will pour out his grace and renew my mind as I move out of the way and let him work in me. It means I need to remember that Jesus lived, died, rose with a glorified body and will return to claim his Kingdom and all the citizens of his Kingdom. It means I do not need to live with anxiety, but being the still-imperfect person that I am, I forget…on a daily basis. It means I need to see people with the eyes of Jesus…people who need God and don’t know it and are suffering because of it.

  25. It’s my first time here and I love the richness of the discussion.

    If the gospel isn’t the hub, then we are like the foolish Galatians.

    I love the way Andrew Murray put it in a couple quotes from “Wholly for God”

    “Death to self is a man’s only entrance into the Church of Life, and nothing but God can give death to self. Self is an inward life, and God is an Inward Spirit of Life; therefore, nothing kills that which must be killed in us, or quickens that which must come to life in us, but the inward work of God in the soul, and the inward work of the soul in God.”

    “Oh, blessed simplicity of the Christian life! May we all learn its blessed secret. Let God be all to us. Let Christ be all, as our way to God, as God working and dwelling in us. Let faith be all to us, the simple and unceasing turning of our souls to Christ Jesus.”

  26. I came across an interview done with N.T. Wright on a book he has coming out soon at:
    http://trevinwax.com/2010/01/05/the-rebirth-of-virtue-an-interview-with-n-t-wright/

    The book is called:
    After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters

    I hope it will lead to lots of good conversations between Catholics and Protestants. I like Wright very much. He has great knowledge of ancient Christianity and he has a wonderful sense of humor. I loved his book, Surprised by Hope.

    I hope this won’t seem too off-topic. I think Wright will have a LOT to say in this book about how we live the Gospel.