Monday, October 29, 2012

Going Deeper for the week of October 28, 2012

In a few days we will remember the Reformation, which occurred primarily in Europe in the 16th century.  At the heart of the Reformation was a desire to reclaim "the truth of the gospel".  So in that same vein I would like to explore this same "truth" in light of what the apostle Paul says in Galatians 2 and Ephesians 2.

(Read Galatians 2:1-21 and Ephesians 2:1-22)

Twice in Galatians 2, Paul mentions "the truth of the gospel" and in both instances he describes actions he took in order to protect it against false teaching and unChristian practice.  In verse 5, he refuses to give into the false teachers "so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you", and in verse 14 he rebukes Peter and Barnabas because he "saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel".

So what is the truth of the gospel which Paul is protecting?

Certainly it is the truth that salvation comes from God by grace through faith in Jesus (His life, death, and resurrection) for us.  But I think there is more.

When we read Ephesians 2, we see the same thing.  In verses 8-9, Paul says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast."
Clearly this is the truth of the gospel, but there is more.

If we read verses 11-18, the more becomes readily apparent.  Paul is not simply talking about reconciliation between God and human beings, but also reconciliation between human beings and human beings as the truth of the gospel.  Listen to how he develops this thought in verses 14-18:

"For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.  He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." 

In Jesus, we are one (both Jews and Gentiles).  And in Jesus we "both have access to the Father by one Spirit."  So the "truth of the gospel" goes beyond just personal salvation but to the greater truth that God is reconciling "all things" to Himself in Christ (see Colossians 1:19-20).  

So what do you think?  Is there more to "the truth of the gospel" than what we usually emphasize?
If so, what is it?  Why do you think we have not emphasized it?

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