Three crosses mountain. Szydłowiec near Radom,...

Three crosses mountain. Szydłowiec near Radom, Poland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The truth of the Gospel does not fit in any category that preexisted in the human mind.

We think in general terms to varying degrees of God’s provision for our redemption or our own works to hopefully merit our own redemption or some kind of blend of each.

Malcolm Muggerage  said that if God be not God then mankind will worship either power or pleasure, Hitler or Hugh Hefner.

Tertullian said that even as Christ was crucified between two thieves, the Gospel is subject to two world-views that are each born out of mankind’s self-centered tendencies toward power or pleasure.

We call them Legalism and License.

Both are similar in that they are self-centered instead of Christ Centered.

(Tertullian was one of the earliest post Apostle Christian theologians, (160 – 225 A.D.)

This Bible study outline is from one of Keller’s sermons ,and is created by Keller for his church in New York.

The following are excerpts from the full outline.

(The entire outline is available free online at the link at the bottom of the page.)

“The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.” Tim Keller

“We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience, but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal.3:1-3) and are renewed (Col.1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed-door, the power through every barrier (Rom.1:16-17). It is very common in the church to think as follows. “The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience.” But Col.1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and “hard work” that is not arising from and “in line” with the gospel will not sanctify you–it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. Thus when Paul left the Ephesians he committed them “to the word of his grace, which can build you up” (Acts 20:32)”

“The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel–a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine….Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” (on Gal.2:14f)

“The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth.

“All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual re-discovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel–seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church.”

The two “thieves” of the gospel.

Since Paul uses a metaphor for being “in line” with the gospel, we can consider that gospel renewal occurs when we keep from walking “off-line” either to the right or to the left. The key for thinking out the implications of the gospel is to consider the gospel a “third” way between two mistaken opposites. However, before we start we must realize that the gospel is not a half-way compromise between the two poles–it does not produce “something in the middle”, but something different from both. The gospel critiques both religion and irreligion (Matt.21:31; 22:10).

“Tertullian said, “Just as Christ was crucified between two thieves, so this doctrine of justification is ever crucified between two opposite errors.” Tertullian meant that there were two basic false ways of thinking, each of which “steals” the power and the distinctiveness of the gospel from us by pulling us “off the gospel line” to one side or the other. These two errors are very powerful, because they represent the natural tendency of the human heart and mind. (The gospel is “revealed” by God (Rom.1:17)– the unaided human mind cannot conceive it.) These “thieves” can be called moralism or legalism on the one hand, and hedonism or relativism on the other hand. Another way to put it is: the gospel opposes both religion and irreligion. On the one hand, “moralism/religion” stresses truth without grace, for it says that we must obey the truth in order to be saved. On the other hand, “relativists/irreligion” stresses grace without truth, for they say that we are all accepted by God (if there is a God) and we have to decide what is true for us. But “truth” without grace is not really truth, and “grace” without truth is not really grace. Jesus was “full of grace and truth”. Any religion or philosophy of life that de-emphasizes or lose one or the other of these truths, falls into legalism or into license and either way, the joy and power and “release” of the gospel is stolen by one thief or the other.”

“They are both based on distorted views of the real God.

“The irreligious person loses sight of the law and holiness of God and the religious person loses sight of the love and grace of God, in the end they both lose the gospel entirely. For the gospel is that on the cross Jesus fulfilled the law of God out of love for us. Without a full understanding of the work of Christ, the reality of God’s holiness will make his grace unreal, or the reality of his love will make his holiness unreal. Only the gospel–that we are so sinful that we need to be saved utterly by grace–allows a person to see God as he really is. The gospel shows us a God far more holy than the legalist can bear (he had to die because we could not satisfy his holy demands) and yet far more merciful than a humanist can conceive (he had to die because he loved us)”

They both deny our sin–so lose the joy and power of grace.”

 

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