Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A picture of the Gospel

I think sometimes of the Gospel as a four-legged stool. If you have only three legs, you fall; and even if you have all four, lean to hard in one direction and you fall.

In this analogy, the four legs of the Gospel are: the Incarnation, the Cross, the Resurrection, and the Ascension.

In the Incarnation, we see the Creator who so loves us that He comes down from heaven, humbles Himself to become one of us.

In the Cross, we see God dying on our behalf, making Himself the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

In the Resurrection, we see the Christ conquering the grave, creating a pathway whereby via faith we can follow Him into the inheritance of eternal life.

In the Ascension, we see Jesus returning to and preparing His Kingdom, which will one day come down to earth.

You must have all four legs of the stool in order for it to stand; but neither can you lean too hard in one direction or the other.

Ignore the Incarnation and you lose a good portion of God's love and His role as our mediator who is one just like us; lean too hard on the Incarnation leg and you fall into the heresy of a loving baby-Jesus who is completely safe and full of warm-fuzzies.

Ignore the Cross and you lose that Jesus was the willing Lamb of God, dying on our behalf and wiping out our sins; lean too hard on the Cross and you get a cold, punishing God who punishes the innocent in the most painful way possible.

Ignore the Resurrection and you lose eternal life and the defeat of death; lean too hard on the Resurrection and you fall into Gnosticism, the spirit-God who didn't really get tempted as we were tempted and didn't really suffer a painful death on the Cross.

Ignore the Ascension and you lose Christ the King, who may save by grace through faith but still expects obedience and maturity from His subjects; lean too hard on the Ascension and you get a distant and sovereign King rather than a loving Father-God.

You need all four legs, equally balanced. Because all four are part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The story of Jesus cannot be told without these four. The story of Jesus is all of the above: the babe in the manger, the sacrificial lamb, the conqueror of death, and the returning King. Anything short of these four, or too strongly leaning into one at the exclusion of the others, is bound to lead you astray.


  1. I get the feeling that you don't actually believe in faith apart from the works of the law as Paul believed. God "expects" obedience... and "maturity"!?

    Additionally, where did you get the idea that the ascension is so important? It's not. Why don't we let Paul Himself tell us what the Gospel is in its full importance:

    "Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received:
    [1] that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried,
    [2] and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; . . ."

    There it is. Paul's own "creed," if you will. Justification/the Cross/Atonement, and Resurrection/Eternal Life. I'll take that two-legged chair, and people can tell me that I'm unbalanced all they want to. I don't need two extra legs to support a little bit of orthodoxy and a smidgeon of legalism.

    1. Just now seeing this, but if you get the feeling I don't believe in justification by grace alone through faith alone, well then you haven't read much of my blog.

      And yes, Jesus EXPECTS obedience and maturity. Absolutely He does, and God forbid that you throw out such a large portion of Scripture!

      Let us see, who shall you hear it from?

      Jesus - "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (Jo 14:15)

      Paul - "And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice which he will find acceptable. This is truly how to worship him. (Rom 12:1)

      Paul again - "What then, shall we sin since we are not under the law, but grace? God forbid!" (Rom 6:15)

      Jesus again - "Even more blessed are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice." (Lu 11:28)

      John - "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And they are not burdensome." (1Jo 5:3)

      John again - "If someone claims I know God but does not obey his commandments, that person is a liar" (1Jo 2:3-4)

      Paul again - "because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God. (2 Cor 7:1)

      These are just a few of MANY such verses all written to believers.

      God did not save us from our sins just to leave us there! Oh sure that is the dream of every hedonist: that Christ's death is to forgive all men and we needn't actually repent or turn our lives over to Him. Say a prayer, take a bath, and viola!--you can go on living however you please because you have a Get Out of Hell Free card.

      That is not at all what Jesus wants.

      But you seem to interpret this as saying, "You must do X, Y, Z works to be saved." Not at all! I never said that!

      I simply said, as did Jesus Himself and all New Testament books, that He did not save us from our sins to leave us as we are. Rather, He is making us into glorious beings like Himself, eternal beings and co-heirs to the Kingdom of God.

      And yes, that WILL result in you changing your behaviors. Your behaviors changing did not bring you salvation; yet your salvation WILL WITH CERTAINTY change those behaviors. If you believe otherwise, then you believe the Word of God is wrong in many, many places.