Posts Tagged ‘Gospels’

MTC Dec 2014 2

More notes and resources:

And for the 2nd year apprentices:


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JPiper: I stand vigilantly on the precipice of eternity speaking 2 people who this wk could go over the edge whether they are ready 2 or not

NewtonG: We don’t go 2 get but 2 serve. We don’t go in our smartness, intellect or in the flesh, we go bowed down, by God’s grace. Love them

Luther: The chief article & foundation of the gospel is that before you take Christ as an example, you accept & recognize him as a gift.

God can use a crooked stick to draw a straight line. #LutherAgain

PstAnthonyBones: By the grace of God I am what I am.

Anthony Bones

And some more notes:

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I’ve fallen for all of them myself. If it’s any encouragement, these tendencies were there 500 years ago in European preaching. The quotes below are all from Luther’s ‘Brief Instruction on What to Look For and Expect in the Gospels’ (which is genuinely brief).

1. Chop it into bits, contemporise and turn into principles – The great temptation in preaching from the Gospels is to take one bite-sized incident and forget that it is part of a sweeping narrative – the story of Jesus, walking the earth two millennia ago – it is history and it is His-story.

Gospel is… nothing else than a discourse or story about Christ, just as happens among men when one writes a book about a king or a prince, telling what he did, said, and suffered in his day.

2. Make it all ‘go and do likewise’

There is, besides, the still worse practice of regarding the gospels and epistles as law books in which is supposed to be taught what we are to do and in which the works of Christ are pictured to us as nothing but examples. Thus when you see how he prays, fasts, helps people, and shows them love, so also you should do, both for yourself and for your neighbour.

However this is the smallest part of the gospel, on the basis of which it cannot yet even be called gospel. For on this level Christ is of no more help to you than some other saint. His life remains his own and does not as yet contribute anything to you. In short this mode does not make Christians but only hypocrites.

You must grasp Christ at a much higher level. The chief article and foundation of the gospel is that before you take Christ as an example, you accept and recognize him as a gift, as a present that God has given you and that is your own. Concerning this Isaiah 9[:6] says, “To us a child is born, to us a son is given.” If he is given to us, then he must be ours; and so we must also receive him as belonging to us. See, when you lay hold of Christ as a gift which is given you for your very own and have no doubt about it, you are a Christian. O no one can speak enough about this. It is a pity that this kind of preaching has been silenced in the world, and yet boast is made daily of the gospel.

Therefore you should grasp Christ, his words, works, and sufferings, in a twofold manner. …When you have Christ as the foundation and chief blessing of your salvation, then the other part follows: that you take him as your example, giving yourself in service to your neighbour just as you see that Christ has given himself for you. Works… do not make you a Christian. Actually they come forth from you because you have already been made a Christian.

3. Swap outward works for internal works – This may be the most subtle danger of all. We notice how Jesus blasts the Pharisees for their hypocrisy – making an outward display of righteousness while their hearts are far from him – and we notice how Jesus replaces, ‘Thou shalt not murder’ with ‘Whoever is angry…’ and so we preach that it is no longer about outward actions it is about the heart, it is no longer about show but sincerity, no longer about works but faith – but ‘faith’ here is actually ‘genuine love for God’, ‘pushing into his presence’, ‘reaching out to touch the hem of his garment’, ‘really, really, really meaning it’. We take a story about Jesus helping someone and we say, “That can happen for you today IF – and it’s a big IF – you are really desiring, really faithful, really making the effort to reach out to him.”

What has happened? We’ve swapped outward works for internal works. In the time of Moses (we say) you needed to do the Sabbath and rituals and sacrifice goats but now, under the new covenant, you ‘just’ need to turn from all your evil thoughts and intentions, offer the sacrifice of your whole life, seek his face in worship. In fact it is still Law, a harder Law, the true kernel of the first Law. Luther and the reformers saw (in Romans 4 and elsewhere) that faith is completely different from works. It is not something we do, it is about receiving, or to put it better, it’s about Christ coming to you.

As widely as a gift differs from an example, so widely does faith differ from works, for faith possesses nothing of its own, only the deeds and life of Christ. …The gospel is really not a book of laws and commandments which requires deeds of us, but a book of divine promises in which God promises, offers, and gives us all his possessions and benefits in Christ.

When you open the… Gospels and read or hear how Christ comes here or there, or how someone is brought to him, you should therein perceive the sermon or the gospel through which he is coming to you, or you are being brought to him. For the preaching of the gospel is nothing else than Christ coming to us, or we being brought to him. When you see how he works… and how he helps everyone to whom he comes or who is brought to him, then rest assured that …he is offering your soul exactly the same sort of help and favour through the gospel. If you pause here and let him do you good, that is, if you believe that he benefits and helps you, then… Christ is yours, presented to you as a gift.

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