Even simpler gospel

Adrian Warnock has created a wee stir with his recent “simple gospel in 10 points” post. The problem with this? Nothing that deals with salvation is that simple. On the other hand, anything that deals with salvation is, by its very nature, so simple as to defy logic. Crashingly simple.

This is the theologian’s problem; the attempt by us mortals to put into words that which is beyond mere words. And if theologians, with their tanker trucks of spilled ink, can’t get it across, how can the unlearned (me) even hope to understand? So, kudos to Adrian for even attempting the task. His take on a simple(r) gospel:

1. Everyone has Sinned
2. God hates sin
3. Sin must be punished
4. Jesus took the punishment instead of us on the cross
5. Admit you have been naughty
6. Believe that Jesus took your punishment
7. Say sorry to God
8. Ask God to be in charge of your life
9. Be baptised (note the order here)
10. Receive the Holy Spirit

Fair enough, but not quite enough. “Say sorry to God?” Perfect for the original audience — 4 to 7-year olds. The “ask God to be in charge of your life” I presume would be a way of saying “repent” to those who don’t know that word. One would also have to assume that the kiddies, and us, have a benchmark to know exactly what it is that God expects of us. Well, we do — Scripture.

We adults who can read or hear Scripture know what sin is; it’s well described in Leviticus; in Romans; and elsewhere. And, as Paul tells us in Romans 3:9, “We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.”

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize sin once you know what it is; it does take God’s grace to fully resist its call — hence it’s really not up to us, is it? It is, as we all know, the logical result of God having sent His Son to die on the cross. For us. Instead of us. There’s the utmost simplicity. Yet He still lives, as we shall. This is the message.

So, John Luke, you’re saying you understand all of this? And you’re certainly past your childhood. No, I make only limited claims. My claim is that the gospel, as free grace received, is primarily felt or perceived, rather than understood as one might understand a problem in mathematics. It is really not intellectual, or fully rational. One is saved by grace; you’ll know it when it happens, even if you deny it. Remember Peter! And who are we in contrast with the Rock?

This is where it is crashingly simple, and beyond words.

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