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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Defending the Gospel

I heard John Piper share in an interview how and why we need to defend the gospel. (Allow me to paraphrase.)

The gospel can be missed either by what we neglect to mention or by what we affirm wrongly. Each can be done in the following four areas:

1. The facts. Says Piper of the gospel, "It's news, not ideology."
2. Accomplishment. What did Jesus accomplish on the cross? (specifically the substitution.)
3. Obtainment. How does one obtain eternal life? (works? faith? combination?)
4. The goal. Why should one trust Jesus Christ?

Piper does a much better job spelling out these issues, but I thought I'd add some of my thoughts.

1. Probably the easiest for us to see. Many of us have learned the gospel in a series of points that are easy to articulate. In a counter-reaction to what can feel like just calling for intellectual ascent, however, many have resisted adherence to certain facts. We should not make the gospel just a series of information (what the reformers called "notae"), but need to make sure we preserve the integrity of those facts.
2. I think this because an issue of over emphasizing the wrong things. Did Jesus gain victory of demonic forces through the cross? Yes. Did He offer me healing through His work on the cross? Yes. Did the cross reveal the wrath of God against sin? Absolutely. However, if we affirm all of those issues above and beyond Christ's work of being the substitutionary payment for my sin, we've made a grave error. We have to proclaim the work of penal substitution first and foremost.
3. Some wrongly think that protestants believe "grace alone" while Catholics are depending on their "works alone." This is not quite accurate. Catholicism is actually a combination of works participating with grace (semi-pelagianism) to accomplish salvation. We have to be very clear it is by grace only, or works can creep into "participating" with grace in our churches too.
4. Like accomplishment of the gospel, the goal is often missed by over emphasizing other issues. Can Christ give me fulfillment? Yes. Can surrendering to Christ help me overcome sin and addiction? Praise God it can. Can trusting Christ with my life deliver me from hell? Thanks be to God, Yes! However, if we miss that the goal of the gospel is to enjoy God for eternity, we miss out. It is about redemption and reconciliation. Any other goal has us either thinking only about after we die, or focusing on problems that another person may not have. (If our goal of the gospel is fulfillment, how do we enter a conversation with the sucessful businessman who already feels fulfilled.)

We are all called to be defenders of the faith. It's not something we should do haphazardly.


  • At 6:14 PM, Blogger David said…

    I'm reading a book by Piper called "God is the Gospel" that makes the same points. It's his newest book, so the program you heard may have been about the book. I'll be reviewing it on my blog when I finish it, probably this week or next. He makes several good points, but I don't think it would hurt him to make his writing slightly more enjoyable than, say, a phonebook or an introduction to dentistry.

  • At 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    From point #4, made me think of one of the messages you gave I think this fall. You asked the question, "Whose direction, fulfillment, purpose am I seeking?,mine or God's?" I desire God's. LG

  • At 8:38 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    i heard piper say his books have basically come from the transcripts of his sermons.

    and my experience has been...when sermons are transcripted they are typically content heavy with presentation style being secondary.

    i download piper's semons all the time. what he says is great...how he says it could use some work.


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