1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
(1 Corinthians 15:1-4, NASB).
I really don’t want to weigh in again on the increasingly loud debate over the radical crazy not-just-a-fan guys. I’m repenting of bashing people and it doesn’t help to refute people that way. I think these guys truly mean well. In fact, it is possible in some way they are probably on to something. I don’t want to spend my time refuting them.
I have been crazy inspired by grace. If I had my way I would go to China or India or Africa and plant 1000 churches and preach Christ and Him crucified everywhere. I would like to fill the world with the grace of God. I have children and a family and responsibilities and I do what I can within the confines of what seems to be possible. I have no credentials, no money, no education to that end, and I cannot drag my children out of their current circumstances to do so. We have sold all of our houses, we have downsized everything we can, and I have made important career and life decisions, to the end that I want nothing to interfere with my freedom to spread the message of Christ. No preacher had to yell at me or cajole me for all this to happen. I have been absolutely set on fire in my inner secret soul because I have come to really believe the love which God has for me. God as my witness, these things are true.
What I do want to refute is the idea that simple belief in Christ and Him crucified is too simple, and doesn’t have the stuff in it to inspire radical living. Nothing puts more fire into you for service and for reckless sacrifice and passionate abandon for God in your honest secret heart like believing the love which He has for us through Christ. In fact, as I’m constantly saying, radical and scandalous grace, belief in sloppy-agape fire-insurance easy-believy salvation, is the singular narrow door that leads to life. Mere belief is the main obedience we are called to (1 John 3:23). At its core, the gospel is about what God does for us, not about what we do for God or even about how well we respond to what He does for us (1 John 4:10).
“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation (Hebrews 2:3)?” There is so much neglect! Nothing perturbs me and angers me like the neglect our great salvation seems to receive. You want to get fired up about something, get fired up about this! It is truly amazing how little stock is put into the power of the blood of Christ. Do we sing those songs much any more? Do we write new songs about the power of His blood? Do we talk about the power of the blood of Jesus? Talking about the blood of Jesus seems to be foolishness. I talked to some pastor who told me that he has to think about the needs and concerns of his congregation, and he can’t constantly be preaching difficult theology about things like propitiation and blood sacrfice to them every week!
If we neglect so great a salvation in our very pulpits, and if our idea of radicality and crazy love is not about the power of Christ and Him crucified in our lives and our community and our mission, then what on earth is the point? Is the main fire in us that we should go, or WHY we should go? Are we supposed to send missionaries to some dangerous foreign land, only to tell them that the message is that they also must go to some other dangerous foreign land to risk martyrdom to please God? It is all nonsense.
15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
(1 Timothy 1:15, NASB).
All of the overseers and apostles and pastors and teachers and prophets and missionaries in the world exist for one reason and one reason only: to minister the gospel of grace. If a person is not convinced that the blood of Christ is utterly central and utterly powerful and that ministry is about compassion and forgiveness and grace at its core, they may be all fired up about something but it isn’t about Christianity. It is about doing things and making a name for themselves in some circle. Let’s be clear: there is nothing you have to offer people, no service and no compassion and no help, besides the gospel. There is no other power. On the other hand, the gospel of grace has amazing power to inspire ridiculous levels of sacrifice and service. As Tulian Tchividjian has pointed out, (and I am lifting this passage straight from one of his messages), it is the grace of God which fires us up for service:
1 Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,
2 that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.
3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord,
4 begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,
5 and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.
(2 Corinthians 8:1-5, NASB).
It is the GRACE OF GOD which was given to them, and it gave them the unction and power from freedom to give well beyond their ability, to the point of begging to give more! Paul preached Christ and Him crucified to them, and they responded with this. No one told them to do this, they heard the need and from grace responded freely. You want radical? You want sacrifice? You want mission? Preach the gospel. Stop neglecting so great a salvation. Stop regarding the blood of Jesus as theological mumbo-jumbo and press into an understanding of its power.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
(Romans 1:16, 17, NASB).