Thursday, March 20, 2008

More than nothing

The gospel could say: God is favourable to you. The Christian future could happen by God just doing everything secretly and beaming his Christians into his new creation. But that's not what happens. That could just be 'because' with no further reason. But I can't help but think there is more to God's way of doing it, to God's motive in doing things the way he lays them out in the Bible. The beam the holy to heaven approach would carry truth of God's favour but it would also surely meet with general apathy. It would leave us not knowing God until the future, and thus leave us utterly unaffected with him. It would also avoid the horror of sin and the cross.

God has spoken, and so there is more to say. Just saying 'God is favourable to you' sort of presumes we're all living in Eden and so enjoying that favour by default, which we clearly aren't.

Actually the gospel is subtly (though not that subtly) different, and richer too. The gospel says: God who made you is rightly wrathful towards his sin marred good creation, and takes the action to justly secure abundant favour towards us, through Jesus, which you can enjoy with him when he renews the heavens and the earth [and can be enjoyed in part today!]. Put it that way and you start to see the glory of the gospel. Put it that way and you start to see that Jesus is truly glorious.

This is the logic of revelation. Last month I preached on Amos 7. Verses 1-6 threaten judgement and then withhold it. Some call that contradiction and change of mind by God (which it isn't, for reasons beyond the scope of this brief post). It looks like "nothing happening" - on the face of it. But actually, far from being nothing happening, it's wrath and mercy revealed. A hint of grace in judgement withheld. That river of wrath can't be stopped in Amos' day, and so flows in v7-9.

At the Cross of Jesus the river is well and truly dammed up with a wall of grace. And of course it's not "nothing happened" because the start position wasn't the abundant favour that we presume to deserve from God - God was already forebearing with human rebellion excessively. Things fundamentally change. We need to see the reality of wrath and the provision of grace to appreciate the utter glory of God's gospel. He is altogether favourable to those in Christ and that is no small feat, given who we are. I don't think that means we have to preach law then preach grace... because by preaching Jesus we preach the glory of God, his wrath, justice and love. And that sight, as Sibbes puts it, is a transforming sight. And that is more than nothing.


  1. This is 'not yet'

    The bible talks of 'now and not yet'

  2. Okay, there is some 'now' in there too, but I wonder if you are missing something, in the 'God is favourable to you' answer. I think you are right to push on beyond it, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water will you...

    God, feels love for the world. (John 3:16) That is important. He is a caring loving Father. The sort of Father you want to talk to - have a relationship with. But he feels, love towards us.

    Would it make any difference if you found out that Em did loving things because she had to? Would it make any difference if a parent told you, 'I don't like you but I do love you.' It would, clearly. So there is something quite important about being in favour. Though, that could become idolatory, if you got it out of proportion. E.G. people pleasing rather than grace receiving.

    It's actually quite important, developmentally that children know that they are liked, not because of what they do, or what has been done from them. If you don't get that right, then you end up with quite serious problems of self-worth, self-confidence and self-security.

    What do you think?

  3. In both I'm saying God is favourable, I'm just saying that I want to say something more.

    I'm saying "YES he loves you AND here's how..."