E. We must restore the stable foundation of the gospel in our lives.
We must remember that when the Holy Spirit spoke in reference to the gospel, it was a message “in which you stand” (1 Co 15:1). “Stand” is a metaphor in this statement for something that brings emotional stability to one’s life. As one stands on a firm foundation, so the gospel is a mentally firm foundation upon which we emotionally stand.
Now we must not be confused in reference to the stabilizing psychology of the gospel. This is not a foundation of supposedly pure doctrinal correctness. It is a foundation of pure gospel. It is a foundation of faith in the gospel reign of the incarnate Son of God. It is a committed faith in King Jesus that He at this time has all things under control. It is a “mind of Christ” that we have brought into our psyche in order to stabilize all our emotional responses to the trials of life. It is an inner peace that allows us to do what James stated: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (Js 1:2; see Ph 2:5-7). It is thus a spirit of mind and heart that is totally focused on King Jesus, His gospel reign, and the good news that He is coming again to deliver us from this world. This is gospel psychology, not doctrinal purity. If one would seek to this grow in gospel psychology, then the gospel according to Hebrews is a good textbook to absorb.
We live in a world today that is filled with social instability. When we turn on our international news media of events around the world, there are people marching everywhere for some particular change that will bring social stability. As the far left political wave that engulfs society becomes more dominant, societies will become more unstable. It is the central identity of political liberalism to extract laws that have built stable societies. But when law is extracted, then instability in society results.
What is now being witnessed in the American political scene is an example of how political liberalism seeks to destroy the social norms of the past. Inherent in liberal political socialism is the destruction of that which brought a particular society to its present social stability. In order for liberal socialism to be implemented, however, the social structures that brought a particular society to its present stability must be destroyed. Unfortunately, the socialist has nothing to offer to sustain the moral stability of either the financial structures of a society, or the moral norms upon which people can stand with reassurance. We have found that socialists who march in the streets rarely think beyond the demands that are written on their placards.
When a society is in social chaos, it is the gospel of the unchanging King Jesus that brings stability to our lives. Though individual citizens may not be able to control the social and financial chaos around them, they can stand within the power of the gospel that brings peace within. Though the world may seem like it is coming apart, we must never forget that it is our King who upholds all things by the word of His power (Hb 1:3). Unless church leaders understand this inherent nature of the gospel reign of King Jesus, people will not be drawn to the cross that we preach. Preaching religion will never bring an inner peace of God that goes beyond human understanding (See Ph 4:7). But gospel will. Religion, especially culturally linked religion, usually adds to the problem of instability, rather than offering a safe haven for those who are in the midst of social chaos.
F. We must restore the gospel as the motivation for abundant living.
Gospel-driven people must offer hope to those who are struggling in the midst of social and political chaos. Gospel-driven people do not allow the environment in which they live to influence the emotional state of their lives. They realize that He who lives in them is far more powerful than he who is in this world (1 Jn 4:4).
If a church of members has moved away from understanding how the members must live according to the gospel, then it has no gospel power to offer to those who are living in social and political chaos. If the preachers do not know how to preach gospel living to the people, then they will often preach religion, which theme perpetuates division and instability. Some will even make an effort to preach “sound doctrine” in hopes of comforting the people with the hope that if they believe what is right doctrinally, they will be right emotionally. But at the time same, the hearts of the people are in turmoil because of the chaotic circumstances in which they find themselves. Their “abundant living” is based only in what they consider to be “sound doctrine.” Unfortunately, legalists rarely have the peace of mind that surpasses all understanding.
“Sound doctrine” will not calm an emotionally disturbed heart. One can be totally disturbed in heart while his head is filled with correct doctrine. But gospel is not according to doctrinal purity, though it is based on the truth of the incarnate Son of God and truth of His present gospel reign. A correct system of religiosity may supposedly be intellectually pure, but it is a particular problem in reference to religion in general, and legalistic religion in particular. One may be faithful to the faith of the fathers, but still this does not bring the peace that passes all understanding.
Religion is that form of faith that people are fleeing because it brings no inner peace of mind. Religionists do not understand that the gospel makes the body of believers a rescue center for the downheartened in the community. It does so because gospel deals with the heart, whereas religion and doctrine deal with the head. The “church of your choice” no longer appeals to those who feel that they are without any choices in a chaotic world of religion and politics. Therefore, it is only the gospel that will bring the abundant life to those who seek comfort and stability in a world that seems to have gone wrong, which it has because of sin.
[Next in series: Jan. 19]