Monday, September 10, 2012

Thoughts from the "Heidelberg Catechism, Question #84"

Question 84. How is the kingdom of heaven opened and shut by the preaching of the holy gospel?

Answer: Thus: when according to the command of Christ, it is declared and publicly testified to all and every believer, that, whenever they receive the promise of the gospel by a true faith, all their sins are really forgiven them of God, for the sake of Christ's merits; and on the contrary, when it is declared and testified to all unbelievers, and such as do not sincerely repent, that they stand exposed to the wrath of God, and eternal condemnation, so long as they are unconverted: according to which testimony of the gospel, God will judge them, both in this, and in the life to come.

The Gospel will divide any and every one.  I have heard it said that there are two types of people in the world: those that believe that the world is divided into two types of people and those who don't.

I am of the first variety.  There are bad people and bad people who are forgiven their badness because of Christ's goodness.  That's it.  The Gospel divides the world into two groups of people.  Those who accept the Good News and repent of their sin in joyous response to the grace bestowed upon them and those who reject the Good News and pursue sin in the form of vigor: religious or irreligious. 

I love this question from the catechism.  It succinctly nails down the watershed event that is the preaching of the Gospel of God in Christ.  It is utterly foolish to those who are perishing.  It is despised and hated.  Do not forget that Jesus was murdered.  Not just murdered in the privacy of His own home, but publicly tortured and crucified.  People hated Jesus.  The Gospel leaves no room for "liking" Jesus.  You either love Him or hate Him.  I know it seems necessary to back fill all that black and whiteness with shades of gray, but they do not exist.  They are allusions/illusions created by the blackness constructed to allow one to live in darkness while wearing a white t-shirt.  That is to say if gray does exist, it is simply less black, but not white and the two categories remain the only options available.

I love the Gospel. I love that it pierced my black heart and called a spade a "spade" rather than letting bygones be bygones.  I love that the Gospel speaks with such urgency and seriousness that which really is.  You want someone to scream "Fire! Get out! The window is our only hope! All the other exits are blocked!  Jump! Please, jump!" if the house is on fire.  If it's not really on fire or it is only on fire in a sense, but not really being consumed by flame, then it is a cruel joke or the snobbish preaching of one's preference. 


If the house is really on fire, what would you expect somone who knows that to say?  The Gospel does not preach to you that the house is on fire.  The Law reveals to you that fire is bad and that the house is on fire.  You agree with the Law that fire is bad and do not want to be burned, but you disagree that you have lit your home ablaze by your own actions.  For all the Law tells you,  it does not tell you how to escape the flames.  By God's grace, the Law shows you that the place you rest your head is merely an expensive coffin. 

The Gospel, however, screams and pleads, "Get out!  There is a way out!" 

I love that God has entrusted the election and calling of his saints to the receiving of an eternal Gospel that is consistently proclaimed over and over.  The Good News is broadcast and by a miracle of God for the sake of Christ, some people actually believe it.  They really do.  It is absolutely crazy.  And I love it.  I adore it.  I love God's wisdom in using such foolish people like us to preach such a perfect propitiation.

"Repent and believe the Good News." ~ Jesus Christ

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