The Logic of the gospel

Measure up. Make the grade. Prove yourself. Pass the test. These and many other commands are part and parcel of life under the law. Whether it is qualifying for a job, an athletic team, or any other endeavor, these words command attention. We know how this works. For all of us have spent our lives under these demands in every domain of life. They are relentless.
So, when we turn to the Christian life, why should it be any different? God has commandments, that’s clear enough. And the logic should be that if I am going to get anywhere with God, the world and the neighbor, I had better be about paying attention to these commandments and measure up. God lays out the expectations and it is up to me to meet them. It is up to me after all. Right? My efforts will make the difference. So runs the logic of the law.


But this is not the logic of the gospel. Jesus Christ is never going to expect you to see to the life of faith yourself. Instead, Christ gives what He commands. He bestows upon you and creates within you what He wants for you. And He does this by creating faith in you in three ways. We have come to call these the ‘means of grace’. These are the routes or instruments by which Christ Jesus brings to you what He desires for you.


The first of these means is His Word. The gospel stories give us the picture of Jesus time and again as He bestows His Word upon those who are hemmed in, bound and broken by life. When Christ brings His Word He looses what is bound and heals what is broken, sin is forgiven. And when you hear that same Word proclaimed to you, faith takes hold of your heart and you dare to trust that this same Word will make a future for you also.


The second means is baptism. When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan, He went down into the water with sinners. And the voice of the Father came from heaven validating what the Son of God was doing by joining sinners and identifying with them in this way. So in your baptism Christ Jesus adds His Word to the water. He forgives your sin and claims you, names you as His own. You are His. So, when you find yourself in life’s deep water and wonder how things will work out you may claim your right as a daughter or son and say, “I am baptized. There is no water too deep for Christ my Lord. He is here with me.”


The third means is the Lord’s Supper. As the community gathers around the table the bread and wine are bestowed with these words, “…given for you.” In this meal, this intimate encounter, the Lord Christ gives Himself to you. We gather at the meal as those first of His disciples. Our hearts are torn with the cares, doubts and fears of life, even to the point where we are faithless. But He is faithful, he breaks bread with His betrayers and remains faithful to them. In the same way you may receive your Lord in the supper, knowing that your Lord will never leave you or forsake you.


In these means of grace your Lord Jesus gives the righteousness of faith to you as His child. He will never demand payment or take it back. You are His forever!


“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord”

-Pastor Mark Anderson

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