Monday, June 28, 2010

Wretched: Brainy Yakking: No gospel is bad news.

Brainy Yakking: No gospel is bad news.
I once asked a young man, “What is the gospel?” He responded, “Love God. Love people.” In essence, the young man was paraphrasing Jesus’ own summary of the Ten Commandments.

A man asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?"

Jesus answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-39).

By His answer, Jesus summarized not only both tables of the Ten Commandments, but also the whole law and the prophets (22:40). And the young man’s paraphrase of Jesus’ summary was a good enough paraphrase. However, my heart broke when I heard the young man’s answer. He gave me a good paraphrase of the wrong answer. If, I had asked him, “what is the law of God?”, then he would have been correct to say, “Love God. Love people”. But, I did not ask him about the law. I asked him about the gospel.

The word “gospel” comes from the Greek word euangelion, which means “good news”, and as the name suggests, the gospel is supposed to be good news. I asked for good news and he gave me bad news. I asked him for bread and he gave me a stone. I asked him for life and he gave me death.

It is true that I must “Love God” and “Love people”. But that is bad news for me, because I have not loved God, nor have I loved people. Indeed, I cannot love God, nor can I love people, at least not to the satisfaction of God.

Further, even if I could love God and love people to the satisfaction of God, I would still be in trouble. For, there certainly have been times in the past that I have failed to love God and love people, and there certainly will be will be times in the future, that I will fail to love God and love people.

Further still, even if I have always loved God and loved people, and even if I will always love God and always love people; I will have only done what is required of me, nothing more. I will be an unprofitable servant with nothing to commend me to a righteous God. How then shall I live in the face of a righteous God?

That is the difference between the law and the gospel. The law is bad news. The gospel is good news. The law kills. The gospel makes alive. The law makes demands. The gospel offers promises. The law says, “Do this and you shall live”. The gospel says, “Christ has done this that you may live”.

According to the gospel, Jesus Christ took upon Himself a human nature; He loved God and loved people; He fulfilled all righteousness; and He took upon Himself the wrath of God to pay the penalty for our refusal to love God and love people, as well as our failure to attain righteousness. If He had not; then we would be left with the requirement to love God and love people; and we would be subject to the wrath of God as the penalty for our refusal to love God and love people, as well as our failure to attain righteousness. No gospel is bad news.


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