Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Toward a Cross-Centered Life: Part 5

If there are two ways to assume the gospel, the first one has been my downfall.

Legalism. You've heard the ten-dollar word thrown around countless times, but consider this simple explanation. Not to overgeneralize, but it's often the Reformed/conservative Christians who tend to assume the gospel this way:

One of the hallmarks of an assumed gospel in an evangelical church is that the gospel is regarded as being for the outsiders, the non-Christians who ever so rarely slip in to one of the services. When we limit the gospel in this way to unbelievers we begin to adopt extra ways of relating to God and to others, and they all fall under the label of legalism.
The core of this type of legalism describes my own journey. In a single sentence, this is what I lived like I believed:

Assuming the gospel means that we regard it as what gets us to heaven but that other things are needed to make us good Christians - it is Jesus plus-something-else as what we really need to be right before God and others.

...the effect of truly grasping the gospel is to find ourselves amazed at the fact that what we do adds nothing and takes away nothing from what God has done for us in the Lord Jesus. When the church realises that this gospel is what we need to encounter every day as Christians then it stops assuming the gospel and begins to give it centre-stage in every aspect of the church's life.

Though this is my struggle, other Christians are apt to fall off the other side. More on that coming up.

(All quotes from "Assumed Evangelicalism" by David Gibson. First printed in RTSF Newsletter From Athens to Jerusalem, Vol. 3, Issue 4, Autumn 2002. All emphases mine.)

Next - Jesus plus...

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