Daily Appropriating the Gospel

When we look at Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we realize that it is easy for us to follow false gospels of various kinds. We need to remind ourselves that all of us follow and lean on various false gospels. Detecting them is difficult because they often are below our theological radar. Few well-churched Christians would actually claim that good parenting, punctuality, etiquette, physical fitness, and active church involvement would be a way of achieving peace with God, but we live as if these are proven ways of gaining God’s love and favor. We need to begin with an assumption that daily appropriating the gospel is going to be a struggle for Christians, and we constantly need to be retrained to rely upon the grace of Jesus Christ as offered in the gospel for our salvation and hope.

Training that appropriates the gospel will require a concrete look at subtle patterns of self-reliance and defensiveness. This really requires cultivating the kind of double knowledge that John Calvin speaks of in the first chapter of his Institutes of the Christian Religion. He holds that “without knowledge of self there is not knowledge of God,” and “without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.” This principle of double knowledge leads us to conclude that “without self-consciousness there is no consciousness of God; without consciousness of God there is no self-consciousness.” True spiritual formation does require the growth and knowledge of self and the knowledge of God. – James C. Wilhoit, Spiritual Formation as if the Church Mattered: Growing in Christ through Community (Grand Rapids, MI.: Baker Academic, 2008), 135-37.

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in Church Issues,Gospel,morality,need,theology

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nathan W. Bingham April 5, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Amen! Thanks for posting this Mark. Like all Christians, I need reminders like this every day.

2 Mark April 5, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Nathan, I’m reading this book for a class and came across that section last night. It stood out to me in the chapter. I thought it was a great reminder and challenge.

Thanks for stopping by.

3 Cathy M. April 6, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Since I’m sure we agree that good manners, healthy lifestyle, and church involvement are good things; what does the false gospel of “self-reliance and defensiveness” look like exactly?

Also, I don’t “get” the whole “double knowledge” discussion nor how it relates to the false gospel topic. I suppose I’d need to read more from the book. How inconsiderate of you to make me think. ;-D

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