Being in seminary, I am constantly being "introduced" to a bunch of old dead dudes. Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Owen, Luther, and Edwards are merely a few of the men who faithfully preached God's word and were used to advance His kingdom. While the verbiage in these men's writings is often dense, their message is not.
The Gospel message has not changed despite the changing of nearly everything else in this world. We are sinners. We need to be saved from ourselves. God intervened. God came down as a man, Jesus. Through the life, death, and ressurrection of Jesus his elect people are redeemed to himself. Basic... I know.
So why bring this up?
Well... we Christians have distorted the truth and pushed the emphasis away from God and onto ourselves. Tullian Tchividjian, Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, spoke this week at our seminary orientation. Tullian, the grandson of renown preacher Billy Graham, had a very basic message for us future ministry leaders. "We have made the Christian faith about the LIFE of the Christian rather than the Christ of Christianity."
Let that previous quote sink in... Now think about how much of your life is dedicated to how you perform? How well you are doing in the process of your sanctification? How much are you doing for the kingdom? We have actually made Christianity about us! Does the New Testament have passages about how to live a life of holiness? Yes! Does it talk about sanctification? Yes! However, this is not the primary function of God's word. The primary function of God's word is to glorify God!
This is not a new concept. 16th century theologian Martin Luther stated that "Good seed cannot flourish when constantly dug up for examination." He was essentially urging us to not merely look inward but to instead look outward. To allow the work of Christ to continue to become more a part of who we are.
Let's look at the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5:13- For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. As believers in Christ, we are given freedom from selfishness and self-reliance. Therefore, as Luther and many others before and after him have done, I also exhort you to live out of your freedom in Christ and tell others of what Christ has done and is doing in your life. Do not merely say Jesus you saved me, now I'll take it from here. Rather, tell those in your life how Jesus has saved you and that you are realizing your need for him more and more every day.
I close with Paul's words in II Corinthians 5:17- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. Amen.
3rd Year MDiv Student
Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando