Friday, September 21, 2012

Lest I Forget, Part 2

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...
1st Corinthians 15:3-4

I'll always remember my first CCO Jubilee Conference.  It certainly marked a paradigm shift for my understanding of the gospel.  The Friday night speaker challenged us to look deeply at the verses above to discover the "big story gospel" and to grow out of a fixation on the "truncated gospel story".  As my man Avery would say, "Unpack that, E".  Indeed, let's.

Christ died for sins... Our new 8 Year Discipleship Plan starts with an 8 week series of lessons on the Trinity.  The next quarter following the Trinity was on "Man and Sin".  This was carefully thought out because without understanding the nature(s) of Christ and a good grasp of sin, we cannot fully appreciate the depth, power, and beauty of the gospel (our focus for quarter 3).  

Or simply put, the italicized phrase in this paragraph means so much more when we realize that Christ is both God and man.  And because His life is of infinite value, it is more than sufficient to atone and pay for the sin debt that each believer incurs over the course their life. There is an amazing transaction here that is known as "double imputation" that is the heart of the gospel and provides true peace of mind for true Christians.  That's the core.  But there is also a background...

How do we know what sin is?  Wouldn't we have to go back to the first sin?  And how can we understand the suffering and distortion that sin has produced in our world without looking at the state of man and God before sin?  We call the first sin "the Fall".  But did humanity fall from the second step of the front porch... or did we fall from the 71st story window?  We need a good understanding of the fellowship of man with God in Eden and the harmony between all earthly creatures to grasp the terrible consequences of sin.

Knowing the "big story gospel" means that we consider the following:

1.  The goodness of God's creation
2.  The fracture that sin brings between man and God, man and his fellow creatures, man and the earth itself
3.  The redeeming, curse-reversing power of Christ's death, burial, and resurrection 
4.  The removal of sin and restoration of all things under God in Christ.

In short, the big story gospel is told in the phrase, 'Creation-Fall-Redemption/Restoration'.  

The bulk of 1st Corinthians is given to an exposition on the doctrine of the resurrection.  Paul explains many things about the resurrection of Christ:  

1.  It is meant to be understood as a historical fact.  Christ's resurrection was as real as His death and burial.
2.  It is not a stand-alone doctrine; it is central to forgiveness of sins and validity of the faith itself.
3.  It assures the resurrection for Christians.
4.  It demonstrates Jesus' domination of and dominion over death.
5.  It points to the superior nature of the new Spirit-dominated or "glorified" body over our mortal bodies.
6.  It establishes the certainty that our corrupted bodies will be transformed.
7.  It provides sufficient motivation to continue serving God because our future reward assures us that our labor is not in vain.

It's fascinating that passages of scripture that are heavy on doctrine are also heavy on encouragement.  Jesus' teaching on the Holy Spirit from John chapters 14:15-16:33 is 76 verses in total.  But it ends with, "I have told you these things so that you may have peace... take heart! I have overcome the world."  And so in this chapter of 58 verses, Paul encourages believers to "give themselves fully" to God's work since we know the payoff is so rewarding.  

Many of us live our Christian lives without the peace and zeal that is a natural by-product of good, sound doctrine.  Sometimes, it's because we are truly ignorant of those great doctrines.  But I am convinced that the more common reason is that we forget to infuse biblical doctrine into all of life.  Therefore, let the infusion begin, lest we forget.

Chorus from "Lead Me to Calvary"

Lest I forget Gethsemane
Lest I forget Thine agony
Lest I forget Thy love for me
Lead me to Calvary


  1. God bless you Robbie- I've been enjoying your writings and reviews also!

  2. Eric: Your blog is very Spirit filled. I am not good at following blogs, but I may be following this one. I love that you believe doctrine is so central to the Christian life. Depth and breadth is what I see in your ministry. Melissa J. Holt, Orlando, Florida