Sunday, July 26, 2009

Christianity 101

Have you ever questioned things that you KNOW the answer to? I do this often, I don't know why I choose to torture myself. Lately topics have included: Is there really assurance of salvation? Why were we created? For relationship with God or to bring glory to God? A million questions about The Fall, a million questions about the Resurrection, Questions about prayer, sin, atonement, election, sanctification, what does it mean to be the Church, and even the basic tenet of Christianity: What is the gospel?

I'm being bold here and going to admit that lately I've been wondering what really is the Gospel. Oh, I can rattle off an impressive illustration. I can walk you through scripture, citing it as my source to "prove" my points. (and hope you believe that the Bible is truth and an authoritative source)

One of my Book Clubs is reading Jerry Bridge's The Discipline of Grace. (wonderful book, by the way) and in it Bridges wrote of a survey taken in 1993 at a "large Christian convention attended by several thousand people." On the survey was the question: "What is the gospel? Many answered but only one gave the correct answer.

I have read another book by Ravi Zacharias and he also made the point that Biblical preaching was important, and challenged churches to ask the youth in their church to "take a Bible and show you from Scripture, the path of salvation." and said that that could be difficult for most. And I ask you: What is the Gospel?

So that's part One. A reflection of what is the Gospel. Is it systematic? Is it personal? Can you describe it? Can you explain it? Can you tell someone why it's important? What would those words sound like? Individual and personal? Factual and sterile? Is it necessary to use the Bible to back up your assertions? Is it necessary to use words at all to tell the gospel story?

Think about it: What IS the Gospel? And yes, I do want you to comment!


  1. Good post Victoria. I suppose I will be answering from my perception of life and God. Most of what you ask needs an element of faith and a need to let God have His Sovereignity(sp?) I was listening to someone preach and he was saying that we have such a sense of entitlement about Christianity that we feel we are doing God a favor by becoming saved. I thought it was a pretty good illustration of how far we are moving away from pure faith and allowing our thoughts to take over. It may sound funny coming from someone who teaches cognitive therapy, but I believe that we still need to know where we belong in the hierarchy; and we are way dowm from God's. There are so many questions that Deuterenomy 29:29 answers by simply stating that some mysteries are His alone. The gospel (good news) is simple, really, I believe we make it more complicated because we have a hard time accepting the simplicity of His gift. For me personally, when I see a breathtaking sight of His creation I realize that even though I don't understand it all, there is enough beauty and evidence to understand that some day He will reveal to me what I need to know. Meanwhile, I expectanctly live one day at a time, in faith, enjoying His goodness and thanking him for what He has given me. I know that is not the answer you were looking for, but I live a happier life now enjoying what I know of Him and not dwelling on what I don't know. I am aware that some people can't do that and sadly I have seen a dear person in my life distance himself from God due to so many questions. We can't have God if we don't have faith. Look at all the agnostics or atheists in the world. Anyway, just my humble opinion. I look forward to see what others respond.

  2. Silivia,
    Thanks for commenting. I agree with you that we make the gospel more complicated and some feel they are dong God a "favor" by becoming saved.

    The reason I say I'm re-examining what the gospel is these days is not because I disbelieve it but because I wonder if I've accepted it without fully understanding the amazing gift it is.

    I'm an "elder brother" type and have strived to live a good life. I've done nothing "horribly bad" in my life: all the fundamentalist church expectations I've kept: I've never been drunk, no drugs, no smoking, premarital sex, etc. A fairly moral person. I became a Christian when I was four.

    In some ways I almost wonder if "younger brother" types are in a better place: they are aware of what they were saved from. They have the overwhelming experience of God's saving grace. They have a magnificent story to tell of God's goodness and grace. They know they deserved nothing and yet God offers love and forgiveness.... and most live like that daily, acutely aware of what they were saved of. They know Who God is and who they are in comparison.

    I just wonder sometimes if I truly grasped the "good news" I'd be living differently. I'd not be content in what I have now. I'd take more risks. I'd give more, I'd be more compassionate and eager to help my church family and the whole world.

    "Rather, he is saying that the inevitable sign that you know you are a sinner saved by sheer, costly grace is a sensitive social conscience and a life poured out in deeds of service to the poor." Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God

    "When a Christian sees prostitutes, alcoholics, prisoners, drug addicts, unwed mothers, the homeless, the refugees, he knows he is looking in a mirror. Perhaps the Christian spent all of his life as a respectable middle-class person. No matter. He thinks "Spiritually I was just like these people, though physically and socially I never was where they are now. They are outcasts. I was an outcast." Timothy Keller, Ministries of Mercy

  3. Oh Victoria, you touched on some points very close to my heart. The Paul vs. Timothy conversion. Many from my generation have had the Paul conversion, having experienced many kinds of sins and drastically coming to Christ in a bubble like experience. They begin to preach the gospel the same day and people praise their "eagerness" to bring people to Christ. It's all good as long as you meet them a few years later and find out that many of them had gone back to their sin. The Timothy conversion, having grown up in a Christian home and chosen to go the right way, in my opinion, was a harder choice than the other way around. The biggest advantage is that the Timothys don't have to go through all the brokenness that the Pauls do. Spiritually God sees us all clean, but physically and emotionally there are many scars that won't completely heal until the day we are in His presence. There are a lot of regrets that Timothys don't experience. One time, when one of my boys was 9 years old, he came home from Hume Lake and responding to my my wanting to know how it was he said:"It was great, basically to be a great Christian you have to sin a lot and then ask Jesus in your heart." This broke my heart. What are we communicating to out Timothys? Do the Pauls talk, after the spot light is off, about the wrenching pain and scars left to the young ladies who chose to abort their babies? Not a day goes by that they don't think and ache about it. Yes, they are saved and doing good things now, but the scar is there. Or the Christian pastor husband who can't stay away from women because of pornography in his past. I wish the Church in general would invite you, the Timothys, to speak about what you have been spared of, and the compoud blessings to your husband, your children and many more generations to come. I totally do "hats off" to you Victoria and I wish I could switch places with you.

  4. Silvia,

    I suppose I hadn't really thought of it like that. Of course, I am thankful of what I've been spared from but a part of me wonder if it was my faith in God that "saved" me from bad choices or just the temperament I possess.

    Either way I am sure you are right that it's a blessing to have been able to live the life I have, however there's all the little things that I fail at! I'm definitely far from perfect.

    I do think that people like me do feel that they aren't of value at times because our stories are not quite as dramatic. I believe it was on Dan's blog (his Comeback Kid post) that Sara and I lamented that we are driven to be good, do good and yet in a way does it really matter?

    I suppose it does matter. I suppose it's all about Who one is doing this for.

    I thank you for your insight and encouragement and it is my prayer too that my children are spared the pain of bad choices, even if it isn't dramatic.