I love having the Gospel preached every week. I've been a Christian for over 30 years now (wow! that's really long), and thought I understood it. And head-wise, I do. But I feel like this is the first time it's ever been presented in such a way as to really become life changing.
I've been receiving variations of this in response to preaching (and to my blogging!) for quite a while. And I am privileged enough to see in my congregation that these aren't mere words. People are showing the fruit of freedom, from a new light in their eyes to new lifestyles. But this message yesterday is just another needed reminder that the gospel is good news, not good advice, and that the gospel actually creates what the Law requires. The Law can't do that for itself.
Over at the Evangel blog today, I posted this:
Talking about how the gospel and the law relate to sanctification is no mere intellectual exercise for me. It’s not just one more idea for the blog. It made the difference between the crushing weight of my own sinful failure and the freedom that comes from tasting and seeing that the Lord is good. This is a real freedom, a freedom that makes “good works” a celebratory dance, not a day-laborers’ accumulation of sanctifying sweat equity. That way leads to burn out and bitterness. “Do not again return to a yoke of slavery,” Paul practically yells at us (in Galatians 5:1) . . .
It is counterintuitive, but wakefulness to the reality that the work is done makes us work more and harder. The gospel creates what the Law requires. And when we approach the notion of sanctification from the angle of “How much reminding of the spiritual homework can we do?” we miss the point entirely. It is often because we do not trust the proclamation to be effectual, and we do not really believe that the gospel is power in itself, that it bears fruit of itself.
In the comments there, a fellow (I think) agreed with the post but said the challenge is now then to get people to dance. I think we meet this challenge, though, not by telling them to dance, but by playing the music. That's what gospel-centered preaching is. Playing the great song of salvation and trusting it has the power to make people dance, as only the greatest of songs can.