When we suffer, our hearts put God on trial. Like a prosecuting attorney, we level our questions against his character. “How could you be good and allow this? If you could put an end to this, why don’t you? What have I done to deserve this?”
Yet, for the Christian, God does not answer our questions with a logical defense of His sovereignty v. our suffering, but rather he answers us the way a mother comforts her crying child – with his presence. With his gospel song, Christ offers us the experiential affirmation of his union with us – reminding us that he loves us, and that he is here with us, and that he is bound to us in our pain. Continue reading
And that, by the way, is perhaps the most important difference between Christianity and all other religions: that in Christianity God is not a static thing– (
not even a person–but a dynamic , pulsating activity), (but a dynamic, pulsating activity of three persons, who together comprise a perfectly glorious and loving divine life that is) almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.” (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 152, my strike through and addition)
In keeping with my thoughts on Gospel Life as a circle dance around Christ, I thought I would post this good quote by C.S. Lewis. However, I do wish he had worked on his thought just a bit more. When he says that God is not a static thing I want to shout “Yes!” But then, in his efforts to improve that thought, he says that God is “not even a person.” I think he goes off the biblical map here. It’s as if he says, “God is not a static thing, He’s a dynamic thing.” The movement from static to dynamic is good. That he leaves God as a “thing” or “pulsating activity” is not so good. I re-wrote the quote the way I wish Lewis had written it.
The gospel is not just the ABCs of Christianity, it is the A-Z; it is not the first step in a stairway of truths, it is more like the hub of God’s wheel of truth. 1
Christians often think of the Gospel as the beginning of the Christian faith. As Tim Keller puts it, they see the gospel as the “first step” in a stairway of spiritual growth. But this is not a biblical picture of the gospel. Keller says that the gospel is “the hub of God’s wheel of truth.” Adding to this thought, J.D. Greear adds, “The gospel is not the diving board off of which we jump into a pool of Christianity, the gospel is the pool itself. That’s why growth in Christ is never going beyond the gospel, but going deeper into it.” 2
The gospel is the heart of Christianity. It is the center by which the Christian’s spiritual life flows into and out of Christ. We never grow away from this central reality. We never grow away from the cross. As Martin Luther said, spiritual progress is “always to begin again.” 3 The Christian should never grow weary of dancing around Jesus as the Lord of all things. The gospel is not the beginning of Christianity, the gospel is the hub by which everything else holds together.
1 J.D. Greear, Gospel: Recovering the power that made Christianity Revolutionary, (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2011), 21.
2 Ibid., 22.
3 Martin Luther, The Sermons of Martin Luther, vol. VI (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), 146.
“We don’t need fewer trials, we need more Jesus.” – Justin Woodall
Justin Woodall is a fellow pastor and colleague at Surfside Presbyterian Church. A couple of days ago while we were talking, Justin said, “You know man, we don’t need fewer trials, what we need is more Jesus.” So true. Later Justin wrote a post on this thought. Click here to give it a read.
It is more than enough that Christ should love us and call us friends. But it is absolutely astounding that he calls us his ‘beloved.’ He is not simply interested in salvaging our lives. His is determined to ‘glorify’ us…to perfect us in the image of Christ. So much so, that even our worst moments, our most hideous scars, even our most atrocious actions, will be redeemed and made into something beautiful. As His artist’s hammer chisels away at the hard wood of our sin and our flesh, he is designing something beautiful, not just of the stump, but also of the shavings. Nothing of our true selves will be lost. Nothing that is touched by his glorious fingers will pass away.