Friday, August 6, 2010

What is the Gospel?

I am reading a very concise, well written book by Pastor Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? 
In order to understand the gospel, Gilbert believes, we must not confuse sin with sins.

"There is a huge difference between understanding yourself to be guilty of sins, and knowing yourself to be guilty of sin. Most people have no problem at all admitting that they've committed sins (plural), at least so long as they can think about those sins as isolated little mistakes in an otherwise pretty good life--a parking ticket here or there on an otherwise clean record.
He illustrates this point with the following story:
On the second floor of the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, there is what is said to be the largest, flawless quartz in the entire world. The sphere is a little bigger that a basketball, and there is not a single visible scratch, pockmark, or discoloration on the entire thing. It is perfect. People often think human nature is like that quartz sphere. Yes, every now and then we may smear it up with dirt and mud but underneath the grime it remains as pristine as ever, and all we really need to do is wipe it clean in order to restore its brilliance. 

The Bible's picture of human nature, though, is not so pretty. According to Scripture, the sphere of human nature is not pristine at all, and the mud is not just smeared on the outside. On the contrary, we are shot through with sin. The cracks, mud, filth, and corruption go all the way to the center. Romans 8:7 bears this out: The mind that is set on on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. It's not enough to say that Jesus came to save us from sins, if what mean by that is that he came to save us from isolated mistakes. It's only when we realize that our very nature is sinful--that we are indeed dead in our trespasses and sins, as Paul says (Ephesians 2: 1, 5)--that we see just how good the news is that there is a way to be saved."

Pick up a copy and refresh your mind on this very important subject.