February 28, 2013

A Car With No Gas

I am amazed how infrequently I used to go to the Scriptures to remind myself of the gospel promises of God... rather I went so often thinking of it as a "how to" manual on life...

Thankfully, now it irks me when I see a pastor decide to preach on a passage and he will deliberately NOT preach on the part that talks about Jesus and what he's done, but skips ahead to the "therefore we should live in such a way" part. They skip the indicatives and go right to the imperatives.

Usually Paul would start his letters with doctrine, explaining what Jesus has done for us and why we can have full assurance of forgiveness and salvation. Then he would go on with instructions on how we should live in LIGHT of that truth. So many preachers just skip all the doctrine part and just go on to the practical part which gives us no motivation. It's like giving us a car and keys and no gas.

Pastors do this all the time... and then they spend all their energy telling us to get moving!

You'd think after a few months/years most people would think... why am I not moving? what am I missing? So you go out and try and find that missing piece, running from conference to conference, buying a new DVD set, trying all these 'new' spiritual disciplines, some of which are actually fraught with spiritual danger (such as contemplative prayer and other eastern meditative techniques).

The pastors give you maps and tour books and vacation pamphlets and tells you of all the places you could visit with your gasless car if you would just get moving. They give you repair manuals, but they keep leaving out the main ingredient... oh maybe they give you a drop at Christmas and Easter, grudgingly, and then resume beating on you to get that car running even if you must push it.

It gets kinda old and frankly, surreal, once you realize the missing ingredient.

And then on top of that, it is even more surreal to get shot down and reckoned an enemy, when you just try to point out that the pastor is forgetting to fill our tanks with gas, which is his job, week after week.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The Gospel Assumed is the Gospel Denied