Summary: Your view of God has profound ramifications for knowing, applying and proclaiming the gospel.
Your View of God Has Profound Ramifications for knowing, applying and proclaining the Gospel.
Each of our lives is centered on something. What’s at the center of yours? Think about it for a moment. What’s really the main thing in your life? Only one thing can truly be first in priority; so what’s at the top of your list, second to none?
Or let me put it this way: What are you most passionate about? What do you love to talk about? What do you think about the most when your mind is free?
Or try this: What is it that defines you? Is it your career? A relationship? Maybe it’s your family, or your ministry. It could be some cause or movement, or some political affiliation. Or perhaps your main thing is a hobby or a talent you have, or even your house and possessions.
It could be one of any number of good things—but when it comes to centering our life, what really qualifies as the one thing God says should be the most important?
Maybe your life’s passion is not so much a single focus as a constantly shifting gaze. After all, today’s marketing culture bombards us with never-ending offers of something newer, something better. Sadly, an obsession with the latest innovation and the trendiest pursuit—and all in up-to-the-minute style—is as common inside the church as outside. New things will always come along. Many will be useless, some will be good, a few will be better—but what’s the one thing that’s really best, according to God?
THE ONLY ESSENTIAL
Here’s how Paul answers that question for us: “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you…For I delivered to you as of the first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:1, 3).
First importance: Paul is pointing us to the one transcendent truth that should define our lives. In the midst of our various responsibilities and many possible areas of service in the kingdom of God, one overarching truth should motivate all our work and affect every part of who we are: Christ died for our sins.
This, Paul says, is the main thing. Nothing else—not even things that are biblical and honorable—are of equal or greater importance than this: God sent His Son to the cross to bear His wrath for sinners like you and me.
If there’s anything in life we should be passionate about, it’s the gospel. And I don’t mean passionate only about sharing it with others; I mean passionate in thinking about the gospel, reflecting upon it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world and all of life.
“The gospel,” writes Jerry Bridges, “is not only the most important message in all of history; it is the only essential message in all of history. Yet we allow thousands of professing Christians to live their entire lives without clearly understanding it and experiencing the joy of living by it.” Neither you nor I want to be numbered among the believers who live out that tragedy.
That’s why our attention must be continually be drawn back to what John Stott calls, “that great and most glorious of all subjects—the cross of Christ.” In the Scriptures we discover a profound urgency for focusing all we are and everything we do around the gospel of the cross. For not only does this good news come first chronologically in our Christian experience, but it stays foremost in critical importance for creating and sustaining our joy and our fruitfulness—a fact we too often overlook.
OUR CONSTANT CONCERN
A concern expressed by D.A. Carson, Bible scholar and professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, is well justified: “I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry.”
John Stott agrees: “All around us we see Christians and churches relaxing the grasp on the gospel, fumbling it, and in danger of letting it drop from our hands altogether.”
Every day, we all face the temptation to move away from the gospel, to let it drop from our hands and hearts. Three main tendencies in particular tend to draw us away:
1. Subjectivism, which means basing our view of God on our changing feelings and emotions.
2. Legalism, which means basing our relationship with God on our performance.
3. Condemnation, which means being more focused on our sin than on God’s grace.
Let’s now take a humorous look at the unbiblical ways we view God. After which we will look at how these unbiblical views of God puts our focus on self and thus promotes another gospel. I will present a series of five skits from which the first two (God as the Wimpy Visitor & God as the Personal Valet) that illustrate our tendency to base our Christian experience on our subjective feelings and emotions rather than the objective truth of God’s Word. The third skit (God as the sadistic sheriff) illustrates our propensity toward legalism rather than grace alone. The final two skits (God as busy mechanic & God as the Old Man) illustrate our inclination for condemnation rather than forgiveness.