I’ve been reading some posts by a couple of bloggers, Frank Turk (aka Centuri0n) and Steve Camp. I’m not linking them here because I don’t want to get involved in the brouhaha and they probably don’t care what I’ve got to say anyway. Basically the disagreement between them is about this video by Francis Chan, in which Pastor Chan intends to proclaim the Good News. I’m not giving my opinion on the value of his video right now because I think that would detract from what I see as the main issue.
So anyway, I’m reading the comments and come across this comment by Greg Withrow, codename willow walker.
I also thought Pastor Chan gave a passionate and clear presentation. However the presentation that he gave was in no way the Gospel nor was it Reformed.
Before I get accused of taking this out of context and whatnot, let say up front that I don’t think that Greg Withrow was equating the Gospel to Reformed soteriology. But those two sentences brought up this question in my mind, “Is the Gospel ‘Reformed’?”
In other words, what part of the Gospel presented in, for instance, I Corinthians 15:1-11, is distinctly ‘Reformed’? My answer, and every other rational human being’s answer is probably the same, “None of it.” Now answer carefully on this next question, “Was Peter’s presentation of the Gospel on the day of Pentecost(Acts 2:14-36, for those of you in Rio Linda) distinctly ‘Reformed’? ” Again, I’m going to have answer in the negative. As a matter of fact, look at how closely Peter’s Gospel message lines up with what Paul’s to the Corinthians.
Now when I preach or teach these passages to the membership at my local church I will preach or teach them from a distinctively ‘Reformed’ perspective. But, be sure you hear me, my perspective is not the Gospel. It is a right view of the Gospel, but it in and of itself is not the Gospel.
What then is the Gospel? You’ve already read what Paul has to say and you’ve read Peter’s sermon, right? Now take a look again at what Peter says,
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know– this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. “(Act 2:22-23)
Peter says that God gave Jesus up to wicked men for crucifixion. Compared with John’s testimony of Jesus’ own words in John 3:16, what does this mean? It means that because God loved the world that he gave Jesus up to wicked men for crucifixion. Wrath was not God’s motivation for sending Christ into this world, His love was the motivating factor. Love for sinful men. It is love for His creation that moves God to send His Son to become the perfect sacrifice for us. And God does want to have a relationship with men. He wants to have this relationship so much that He actually ensures that that relationship will develop through election, predestination, effectual calling, and a sufficient and effectual atonement for our sins.
The relationship that God desires is a relationship of love. That why Jesus said the greatest of all the commandments was, “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” (Matthew, 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:25-28) This is a relationship where our love for God overflows into our worship of God, because you will never worship what you do not love.
So the problem as I see it is simply this, as ‘Reformed’ Christians we cannot let our doctrinal preciseness on the TULIP or the Solas black out the Gospel. Of course the way we see the Gospel will color that way we proclaim it. But we must be careful about getting signatures on our London Baptist Confession of Faith before getting the Gospel into men’s ears and praying that the Holy Spirit takes it into their hearts. Isn’t this equivalent to the charge we level at all those Baptists out there who want to get their baptisms and worry about the baptizee’s evangelization later?
How then should we preach? We should preach as Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Act 2:39) And then as we proclaim the promise of salvation to all, we must depend on God to ‘add to our number day by day those who were being saved.’ (Acts 2:47)