It is not often that I hasten to my keyboard after reading or watching something in the news so as to provide comment. I don’t pretend to assume that my contributions to the ever-churning news machine matter all that much. But this was different. This was important. What occurred and what was uttered in that courtroom was, perhaps, one of the best instances of grace this side of the cross.
An inaccurate distinction of both God’s law and God’s gospel will lead to all kinds of errors. The erroneous kind of this art happens all the time. We put law where gospel should be and end up with a theological mess. We bastardize the gospel with pietistic fine print. And in so doing, we jettison the truth of the gospel altogether. Such is the scene in Paul’s letter to the Galatians.
If there is a doctrine that has desecrated more ministries throughout the eons of Christendom’s history, it is undoubtedly the doctrine of sanctification. It has been the fodder for numerous debates in the evangelical blogosphere of late, but before all that, it was the schismatic tool of the devil to divide congregations and deflate discipleship.
I’m a lifelong Baptist and I’ve always been in church. Both my grandfathers served as pastors at various points in their lives, and my dad still ministers at a Baptist church in upstate South Carolina. Consequently, my understanding of the faith and practice of Christianity didn’t come with much in the way of liturgy. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing or something of which I’m resentful — it’s just a fact.
I didn’t want to write this. You have to believe me when I say that I really didn’t want to comment on this silly, exaggerated spat between reality TV personalities. I know these waters are tumultuous, to say the least. But as I reflected on the story as a whole, I realized there was far more to this scene than just an over-the-top, highly-produced dating show confrontation. Actually, she’s the one that started it.
The opening verses of Ephesians 2 are among the most significant in all the pages of Scripture. In a mere ten verses, the apostle Paul upends nearly every presupposed notion about religion, the church, and the believer’s life in Christ. In this text, the Spirit of God, through the pen of a stubborn apostle, single-handedly dismantles any and all preconceived notions about how the Christian life is supposed to work.
Perhaps the most unfamiliar thing I’m going to have to get used to now that I’m a Pennsylvanian is the concept of burning trash. I never really thought about trash men and the weekly garbage pick-up system before. It just wasn’t a thing that crossed my mind that often, if at all. But now that I’m living in a location that doesn’t have access to such a benefit, I am obligated to live out whatever latent pyromaniacal tendencies might exist in my subconscious.
There are several portions of the Bible, for one reason or another, that stand out from among the rest. These passages are usually ones we would call “pillars of the faith.” Such is what the first ten verses are of Ephesians 2, in which the apostle Paul relays a gloriously grandiose picture of God’s colossal gospel.