Two birds, one post
The below is a comment I left on Scot McKnight’s blog, on the first post of what should be an excellent study on the word/concept of “gospel” in the bible. His post today focused on the Old Testament ‘gospel’, I think it’s also strongly related to my experience with Step 2 of the 12: “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity”:
Alright! The mother of all series! Very much looking forward to this one, Scot. Just to be explicit about something that is implied in all of your points: God’s great power or abilities (which he uses for good), especially relative to others. Especially the Isaiah passage (who says to Zion, “Your God reigns”, emphasis mine) says to me that the chief power in the world is their God. I realize this is implied, but given people’s general tendency to trust other power sources (money, governments, persuasive people, etc.), I think it’s worth being explicit: No one, no thing has more power on the earth than God (specifically Jesus). The fact that saying it might be controversial even among Christians proves the point. It also happens that in many, many circumstances, one’s conclusions about who the most powerful person in the room is will dominate one’s course of action. If the earth is a ‘room’ where God has little power, our ethics will show it.
Even the Exodus speaks loudly about this ‘power’ issue to the whole world, to the extent pharoah and Egypt were perceived as the world’s greatest power. Foundational to trusting God instead of other things is believing he is able to help, more able than other things we could trust. (BTW, I’m looking forward to the book Salvation Belongs to Our God, for this reason)
My point being that God’s power, and specifically Jesus’ power, to help people on the earth is part of the gospel itself, and a critical part at that. If he did not have power to help, we would not bother coming to him; we’d go to someone or something else. We just don’t–and shouldn’t–trust things or people that can’t deliver. Even people we hate, if we think they have power to do something, we are inclined to listen to what they say, perhaps do their will. Trusting God’s gospel about Jesus is, in substantial part, coming to believe that he has the ability to come through in the ways we need. We need to know he has power on the earth to help.
For me, knowing Jesus has power, saying to myself “Jesus is Lord” puts my soul at ease. So many “what ifs” become quieted within me. More on that to come.