There is a profound nexus between Christ’s being and our living the Gospel. If we insist on editing His Good News into something else in order to make ourselves ‘special’ – or obsess about carving out some ‘identity’ with our proprietary ‘gospel’ - the result will be that we have no gospel at all. But what we will have is a perverse rendering of God and a crippled version of ourselves. This is why it is not sufficient to sit in the corner of the Body of Christ with teachings that are misguided and bent.
HIS BEING AND LIFE
Teaching life must originate in the truth of God’s being and the truth of His action or it is not His life. Thomas Torrance makes this point when he writes,
“According to Thomas Torrance (in Gospel, Church, and Ministry), preaching Christ is both an evangelical and a theological activity, for it is the proclamation and teaching of Christ AS HE ACTUALLY IS presented to us in the Holy Scriptures. In the language of the New Testament, preaching Christ … is both evangelical and theological. Faithful, effective preachers are thus both theologians and evangelists—concerned about Jesus Christ’s being and his doing, or as John Calvin often said, presenting “Christ clothed with his gospel.” (1) Presenting our own Christ together with another gospel is iniquity.
Paul’s urging that we are competent as ministers of the new covenant implies that we are not competent as ministers of the old. We are not competent to minister Christ as He is or His Gospel as passed to us by Jesus and the apostles if we are not new covenant preachers. The associated inference is that that if we are not new covenant teachers, we are not representing the Kingdom of God.
ONENESS, UNION AND SPIRIT AND TRUTH
Torrance pressed his point,
“[Calvin] meant that Jesus Christ and his Word, Jesus Christ and the truth of his message belong inseparably together and may not be torn apart. With us human beings, person, Word and act are separate, but this is not the case with Jesus, the Word made flesh, full of grace and truth. For in him Person, Word, and Act are one. That is why when we read [in the weekly Scripture readings in church] and interpret the Gospels and Epistles [in the weekly sermon] and let them talk to us out of themselves, we find ourselves having to do directly with God in Christ “speaking to us in Person” as Athanasius and Calvin both used to say.”
Torrance is writing on what it means to be ‘in the Spirit.’ This is more than some charismatic effervescence. It is our relationship in union with God – in which all are by right in the post cross age. To be a member of Christ’s church is to participate in the being of God.
When we are cognisant of the being of Christ and not just affixed to words on paper or proof texts that we have seized in order to sustain eccentric beliefs, we may confidently rest in the truth that we belong to the Body of Christ and not some appended corporation of our own. Heaven forbid they we belong but that we belong in the sense that a tumour belongs in the chest of an unfortunate long-time smoker.
The notion of the Body of Christ separated from the being of Christ is a mirage and phantom – a gathering storm without rain and a gospel that is no gospel at all.
FAITH IN FICTIONS
Torrance cites the hazard of preaching that is divorced from good theology. “If you cannot preach the gospel didactically as well as kerygmatically, you have to invent your own theology to make these things stick together. But once humpty dumpty has fallen like that, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men cannot put him together again—that’s the problem, and it is a far bigger problem than many people realize.”
Inventing a shattered Christ precludes a genuine Body.
There are ‘stuck together theologies’ from which schools of thought are built and from which denominations have been formed. But they represent themselves with beliefs that are in fact other gospels that lead to confusion and the danger of spiritual death.
“Torrance also stresses that it is vitally important in our preaching to emphasize the Incarnation—the gospel truth that Jesus Christ remains both man and God..”
Here is the vitally important state of being again. In Jesus we have been woven into God. In Christ God has been woven into us. This is the great reality of the post cross age. There is no separation here. Just union with God, which means God multiplied in the lives of George and Bob, Mabel and Portia.