So I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about the gospel these days. And I know I need to post part 3 of my series on evangelism soon (part 1 is here; part 2 is here).
Surrounding this whole discussion, I believe there is a serious question we all need to ask ourselves concerning the gospel:
Why is it that we so easily run and jump to Paul’s writings rather than starting with Christ and the Gospels (or we could even ask about starting from the creation)?
Why is it?
Of course, Paul has very important things to say about the gospel and we should not forget him at all! And Paul has very important things to say on so many issues of doctrine and practice. Nor do I want to pit Jesus (or the Gospel writers) and Paul against one another. I do believe in a harmonious whole of Scripture.
Yet, still, this question remains with the gospel (and maybe many other issues): Why do we run to Paul?
And that is my challenge to anyone who wants to form a full and robust theology of the gospel. I challenge us to see exactly what Jesus, the Messiah-King and eternal Son of God, proclaimed as recorded in the Gospels. And, then, from there, build onto the gospel story as we read Luke in Acts, Paul’s writings, Peter’s writings, John’s writings, and the others.
Praise the Lord. And I would vote for looking even further back as well – to the portrait of Messiah painted by the prophets in the Hebrew Bible.
Maybe ’cause every time I start with creation I get my hands slapped for thinking everything is about creation. LOL
Praise the Lord. There is something to be said for starting with Creation – not least because it is the basis that Jesus used for such things as His views on marriage and divorce. It sounds like He is trying to call us back to ‘how it was in the beginning’ (i.e. before the Fall).
Seriously though, the Gospels are quite full of historic events in which some doctrine is stated. Paul’s Epistles focus on the doctrine and explain or elaborate on it. It clarifies it. So we are quick to go there because it is frequently the most clear explanation of the doctrine.
Is Scripture first a story of redemption ora doctrinal textbook?
And did Paul base his understanding of the gospel in abstract theology or a real narrative story of God’s Messiah?
I think it is first a story of redemption. And when folks want to defend the story, they go to the historical stories. But it is ALSO about doctrine, and that is what Paul gets into. I think you have more occurrences of folks “running to Paul” because it is more often than not differences in understandings of doctrines and not denial of aspects of the story that are being discussed.
What is Scripture first and foremost? Let’s keep that in mind.
Let’s develop doctrine, but the doctrine comes within an overall story and within a particular narrative situation for Paul and his churches.
Praise the Lord. The Bible is first and foremost a revelation of the Person of God, so that we may know Him and worship Him and only Him, free of the punishment/reward issues which cause people to come to God because of their little desires instead of for God Himself, and prevent them from ridding themselves of fear so that they may obey God’s command to love Him with *all* their heart, soul and strength (there being no fear in love). This is what Jesus came to do: to provide the objective spiritual reality that makes all of that possible for us.