3 true ways of describing the Good News.

Trevin Wax has a helpful summary of three ways we can summarize the Good News of Jesus (the Gospel):

  1. Telling the Story for an Individual
  2. Telling the Story of Jesus
  3. Telling the Story of New Creation

Which one do you tend to emphasize? I am convinced we need all three to be faithful to God in proclaiming His message. The Gospel is more than heaven’s minimum entrance requirement, and we must proclaim Jesus as the Hero and center of the storyline. How do we do this faithfully, making it more than about one individual?

When sharing the Gospel with people, I seek to find common vocabulary and see where their story intersects with God’s Story. And then I ask questions tailored for the situation to explore and explain this chart (a combination of all three ‘Stories’ listed above):

The Big Story of God & the Gospel

[Download three page document as a PDF: The Big Story of God]

More than just good works.

I get this question all the time (or some form of it): “If we are rescued by Jesus through grace, and not because of good works we have done, what is the purpose of good works?

Those of us who worry about whether our good works will be enough, are not quite grasping the Gospel nor the purpose of our good works. A few things to point out:

We ARE saved by good works.

Just not our good works.

Jesus lived the life we should have lived but haven’t, and died the death we should die but don’t have to. Those are part of His good works, the fruit of which we get to partake. (In theological terms, we are made right with God — justified — through Jesus’ active righteousness and His passive righteousness. His record of perfect obedience is credited to our account — see Romans 3:21-26, and Romans 4-5. More than that, we share in His life, through union with Christ, which is the anchor for our secure place in God’s love and the primary way He changes us.)

Jesus does much more than get-us-into-heaven-when-we-die, and His is greater than our perfect Example. The life He has He shares with His people, who are being remade into His image (Colossians 3:10). Because God is good and does good, we share in His character and inevitably do good towards others.

What is the place of our good works in relation to His good work?
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Training Partners.

This morning I was grateful to lead a sixth grade boys Bible study. Exactly thirty boys entering their teen years were mostly respectful, and enthusiastic. Sometimes rowdy, mostly funny, and definitely happy to be there among friends, they returned each time to listening to an adult persuade them to trust God and live in His goodness. Thankfully I know many by name, so I can speak into their lives with credibility.

I spoke on Training Partners, a connection between two recent messages and Scripture passages they recently heard taught by men they respect.

A training partner is someone who invests in you, and you in them, as you grow stronger in a shared area of our lives. In middle school lingo, it is the guys we share life with in doing challenging things (sports, homework, etc.). They recognize the difference between trying and training, and that alone helps us see all the people who help us succeed in life. Even as we considered many ‘solo’ sports (golf, tennis, motorcross, being their examples). How many of us create our own gear, or drive ourselves to the course/court? Did we entirely teach ourselves how to play? If we’re wise, we watch others and want to do what they do how they do it. In fact, that’s why we wanted to play that sport to begin with — someone introduced us to it, and made our playing possible.
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All that and more.

The world is smaller, bigger, better and badder than you think.

And God so loved the world.

Both of those lines help me grasp why Jesus came to rescue us.

[14] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth… [16] And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. [17] For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. [18] No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
—John 1:14, 16-18, ESV

All those turtles and our competitive nature.

Last week we were able to see huge sea turtles and enjoy sunshine on a certain Hawaiian island. It was amazing. Plus, it was a place to refresh and renew as a family in our deepening relationships with one another and under Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We felt little impulse to prove ourselves or to pretend we were something better or different than who we are. We could rest and play and reflect on the past year with gratitude.

When I returned to public life today I was reminded of my own tendency to be like this: