Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Gospel for believers

I have created a new term: enjedification. Its meaning comes from the two words that were joined in its formulation. Enjedification is the process by which one is edified in a manner that is enjoyable. So, instead of saying a book was both enjoyable and edifying, I can simply say "I found that book enjedifying." This random word-generation came as I was contemplating the book For the Fame of God's Name. Edited by Sam Storms and Justin Taylor, the book is full of essays by a group of highly esteemed theologians and pastors. I have, thus far, really appreciated this work; it has been enjoyable and edifying - enjedifying!

D. A. Carson authored a chapter entitled What Is The Gospel?-Revisited. It is from this chapter that I share the following passage:
The gospel is not a minor theme that deals with the entry into the Christian way, to be followed by a lot of material that actually brings about the life of transformation. Very large swaths of evangelicalism simply presuppose that this is the case. Preaching the gospel, it is argued, is announcing how to be saved from God's condemnation; believing the gospel guarantees you won't go to hell. But for actual transformation to take place, you need to take a lot of discipleship courses, spiritual enrichment courses, "Go deep" spiritual disciplines courses,and the like. You need to learn journaling, or asceticism, or the simple lifestyle or Scripture memorization; you need to join a small group, an accountability group, or a women's Bible study. Not for a moment would I speak against the potential for good of all of these steps; rather, I am speaking against the tendency to treat these as postgospel disciplines, disciplines divorced from what God has done in Christ Jesus in the gospel of the crucified and resurrected Lord.
Carson goes on to say that having this perspective, one that relegates the gospel to a message for getting into heaven, has "huge and deleterious consequences." First, "if the gospel becomes that by which we limp into the kingdom, but all the business of transformation turns on postgospel disciplines and strategies, then we shall constantly be directing the attention of people away from the gospel, away from the cross and resurrection. Soon the gospel will be something that we quietly assume is necessary for salvation, but not what what we are excited about, not what we are preaching, not the power of God."

The gospel is for believers every bit as much as it is for non-believers; an enjedifying reminder for us all.

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