Thursday, November 3, 2011

Affirming the Gospel vs. Experiencing the Gospel

Some thoughts on belief and experience from Tullian Tchvidjian's new book at Crossway - I really want to read this book!
It’s one thing to affirm the gospel; it’s something altogether different to experience its power where the rubber meets the road of life. How does the finished work of Christ become real to me at my point of need? How does what Christ accomplished for sinners two thousand years ago become vivid and tangible in the moment of temptation, or in the moment when I’m desperately longing for human approval and affection? As I make my way across the wilderness of this life, how does the reality of the ongoing power of the gospel change me, help me, and serve me here and now? How does the gospel connect with my daily grind?

Thinking out the deep implications of the gospel and applying its powerful reality to all parts of my life is a daily challenge and a daily adventure. Theologically I understand that the gospel didn’t just ignite my Christian life but that it’s also the fuel that keeps me going and growing every day. My challenge is understanding how this works functionally. So, here are a few questions I go back to all the time that help me make the connection between what Christ accomplished for me and my daily internal grind:
  • Since Jesus secured my pardon and absorbed the Father’s wrath on my behalf so that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” how does that impact my longing for approval, my tendency to be controlling, and my fear of the unknown?
  • How do the life, death, and resurrection of Christ affect my thirst for security, affection, protection, meaning, and purpose? In other words, how does the finished work of the one “exposed, ravaged, ruined, and resurrected for us” satisfy my deepest daily needs so that I can experience the liberating power of the gospel every day and in every way?
Thinking those things through, asking those questions, is the hard work I believe I’m called to do, the kind of labor Paul speaks of in Philippians 2:12—“work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” I’m not saying the Christian life is effortless; the real question is where are we focusing our efforts? Are we working hard to perform? Or are we working hard to rest in Christ’s performance for us?
From Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian.