Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The gospel is the love Jesus has for me and for you

Came across this amazing 'freebie' - the journal Themelios, now published only in electronic form - but, be warned, dial-uppers, its nearly 6 MB from here.

In the latest issue - actually the first electronic issue - there is an article entitled "How a Mega-Church is Rediscovering the Gospel" by Joe Coffey, lead pastor of Hudson Community Chapel, one the fastest growing large churches in the States. But the article has little to do with mega-churches and lots to do with the gospel.

Here are a few excerpts which challenge, encourage, and inspire us as preachers.

"Ever since the mission trip, I had been feeling that it was more important for me to understand how much Jesus loved me than it was for me to figure out how to love Him. I watched in amazement as relief spread across my friend’s face. He said he had tried for twenty years to be sanctified through his own effort; it had ground him to powder, and he would not go back.

A couple of months went by and I finally picked up the Keller CD and listened to it as I drove. Before long, I found myself sitting alone in my car, fighting back the tears. Keller was connecting the dots: Christ’s relationship with his Father was shattered so that mine might be made whole. I suddenly realized that I had undervalued the Gospel by treating it as merely the starting point of the Christian life, instead of as the all-encompassing source of truth and grace that empowers all of the Christian life.

The Bible came alive over the months that followed. When I read in the Old Testament about the wrath of God, the frustration of God at the Israelites in the desert, or the mercy seat in the Tabernacle—it would all take me to the cross. Everything everywhere was about cross-centered redemption: the Bible, relationships, even creation itself. The over-arching story of salvation became more clear to me than ever—beginning with creation, moving to the fall, and then redemption, and finally restoration. What I learned, I preached. Almost overnight it became the Gospel every week displayed in a different passage."


"The belief system of a pastor is bound to come out in his preaching at least in subtle ways. My emphasis was always on grace, but it was also laced with the discipline of effort and inner strength to be what God called us to be. The result was either pride or defeat. My preaching has changed as a result of the Gospel going deeper inside of me.

The truth is I have existed as a pastor with gods in my closet. There were times when these gods sustained me. Giving them up has caused more death this year than I would like to admit. The closet is still not empty, but the death of these gods has made me ravenous. Without the Gospel as my source of security and significance, I would die. So as one who has vacillated between self-sufficiency and depression, Gospel-driven transformation is both liberating and terrifying."

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