Friday, January 20, 2006

So why do we need saving? (Or, why do we bother with shiny slogans and gimmicks when the gospel is enough?)

Piers spoke from Romans 1:18-2:11 last night at CU. Wow! Such a challening passage to listen to, such devastating truth in there, all at once difficult and exciting to listen to. So what is God's problem with us? Well, because although we know God, we do not honour Him or give thanks to Him. In other words, we all have the evidence to hand that God exists. God has shown us through creation His glory, and His majesty. So, as it says in 1:20, man is without excuse. We are. Man sees God, in sunsets, in the symphony of creation, in the birth of a child...but refuses to give God the thanks and honour He deserves. So God has every right to be angry with us. So, God gives us up to our godless desires, to our impurity, to the dishonoring of His body, because we have excepted the lie. This is pretty damning stuff, and it continues in the rest of the passage...all that we do that is Godless, all laid out for us. God's problem with us is that we have turned from Him. He is the Creator, and yet we have decided to dishonor Him and instead chosen to worship the created. It's crazy, why look for meaning and purpose in the created, and not the creator. And yet we all do it, it is so prevalent in our society. So we're stuck. God has given us up to our dishonourable passions, the passions we so freely engage in. We have no hope before this mighty, holy Creator. Not only is it bad enough that we indulge in these things, we also give approval to those who do, knowing that those who turn from God like that deserve to die. And so chapter one of Romans ends, pretty damningly, man, lost and hopeless, turning our backs on the one true God, the Creator and Sustainer. Well, if Piers had left it there it would have been pretty bad news last night. If God had left it there it would be bad news all the time. And yet the message we preach is good news. How come?
Chapter 2 picks up the story. Verse four talks of God's kindness leading to repentance...God was so concerned with the glory of His name that He sent His Son to die, that we might see His glory and know Him...That is the Good News. He will render to each what they earn. To those who seek for themselves: wrath, fury, tribulation and distress. But for those who by the grace of God seek what is good, there will be eternal life.
So there is what we need saving from. Ourselves, more or less. The fact that though we know God, we neither acknowledge or thank Him. That is what we need saving from. Nothing else. The completed work of the cross means that we can now be in a relationship with the Father. He has graciously shown us His glory in the face of His Son, Jesus Christ, so that now we are no longer given up to the lusts of our hearts, but that we can seek the glory and honour of the Father, in the face of the Son.
Which brings me, in a very roundabout fashion, to my other, shorter point. Why do we bother messing around with the gospel? Why do we dress it up with additions, or water it down by taking away from it? Do we really think we can achieve more with our own message, or that the message we come up with is better than Gods, or that we can save those with our message God can't with His? Piers said last night that he felt intimidated by the message he was bringing from the Word. I certainly felt intimidated listening to it, surrounded, as I was by unbelievers. So yes, it can be scary to deliver the Gospel in full, but its all we've got, it's the light of God, it's the power of God, and most importantly, its the tool He's chosen to use. Who are we to try and improve on that?

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