Note to the reader; this does not constitute a genuine C.P.E., but rather is a legible version of a "pass-me-out" offered to those attending the U.P.C. adult Sunday school class of 29 Jun 2014. My "rapid fire" verbal style is so overwhelming that some find it difficult to keep up. This is the written version of the content covered that day...
We used to have a college type minister serving here at our church. He since; has moved on, and is (I think) a minister at some church in Oregon maybe? At any rate, I wish I could remember just how he said it; but it was to the effect, "We are to preach the gospel to all creatures, and so (I believe), we should begin that speaking to the creature called "me".
Now as far as I know, the creature called "me" learns in several modes, and if I am reading things aright, there is also a bias within the "me", such that; I "favor and prefer" one mode over another. We presbyterians prefer (it seems) to think of ourselves as "mental". Our youth Pastor (of today) by way of demonstration, leans over and "opens" the top of his head with his hands, to imitate the top door of a dumpster. "Just fill 'er up!". This mind/think axis is who we prefer to be, at least in public that is.
This bias results in a "think" gospel, a content filled, doctrinal and apologetics linked view. It's a brain thing. Now, do not misunderstand, it is not as-if, I've in the past seven minutes; become "opposed" to such, but rather am noting it as our (mine too) bias. But the text, the message we bear, is a "heart" message. It is "crucial" information, not "exhaustive" we discuss here.
As such, we are at a disadvantage among our Christian brethren it appears to me. In our information glutted world, we (I do at least) think of "learning by heart" as memorization, or simply to learn by rote. The message we bring, is heart medicine, it is "gut", it is the "me of me" which we address the words to. Yet that "me" (the real one I mean), has been badly damaged in the fall.
For example, this is how I "heard" with my heart (gut) the message as a boy. "Jesus loves you" said they. "So, am I to infer then, that Jesus just has really really bad taste in friends? And tell me, why is it that He is so very busy associating with losers and blockheads in the first place? Furthermore, where (exactly) do you get off Pal; going around insulting Him(!) in such a fashion? With bad hearts in us, we must always "miss" in the hearing, even when the message is given straight...and by the way; is it EVER, in this world, given straight?
As an aside, just about all of the "culture wars" we see going on in America just now boil down to one thing. The message from on high, the Word of God; is hated, contested, and denied. Start there. From reefer to robots, from homosex to hate groups, the message He sent is being battled, distorted and finally forgotten.
Now, as believers, we are often satisfied to note this social dystopia of ours, and simply do "advertisements" for the Word. They run, "Hey Pal, read it, study it, memorize it!" See? That group of powerful and lifesaving truths, those sound principles shall bless thy socks off, and encourage you to boot! Does it seem odd to you that for such a central and utterly life-saving "Word" as all-that, that we are (often) so weirdly silent as to what said message is! It would be like running up to your neighbor, all out of breath, and "forgetting" to mention that his house is on fire? Forget then for a moment memorization, lose the advertisements, can you please tell (the) "me" what that all-so-horrendously important message is?
I seem to specialize in bad examples! Bad example one then (in my estimation), is the "It's a love letter from God" view. Since I just happen to love God, and simultaneously "buy into" the covenant; I would say, "If it is a love letter, it isn't addressed to you (of all people!). No Sir! In that case, it would be a case of "The Father loves the Son, and the Son does all the Father commands". That love (between "Them"), that relationship (over there!), that reality is the format. The covenant is private! True enough, you have been invited in, but face it the thing (in that case) is addressed to your "Head", not to your head!
Bad example number two, of the basic drift, the big idea involved, really grinds my gears. In this case, we find a kind of "wishful" God, who (ala' Hallmark) sends "His very best"... See? He "wishes" that you and He could "develop relationship" (yuck), and supposing you ever had the good sense to opt in, by golly; He'd be all for it! The hitch here is that He is so terribly busy respecting your "freewill", and moreover, that this feature of your person is so dreadfully crucial to Him, that the "best" the Guy is capable of; is to make the offer!? This drives me bonkers. I mean here we see it, how could such as "word" as that, ever (under any circumstance); change a heart from traitor to son? How could "best wishes" command resurrection? For it is certainly rez power in which we walk! My basic problem along these lines is that I need help controlling myself! Face it, if He is "afraid to meddle" there, then I have no hope. It's that "complex".
Frankly speaking then, the "message" we carry with us is an eviction-with-prejudice notice. When the S.W.A.T. team takes out a shooter, when the SEALs whack a mullah gone south, they do so with "prejudice"! He then, the Sheriff from on high is coming. Coming to war, coming to judge, and to burn. Forget about hell for the moment, forget condemnation...He!!, (He Himself) is "the problem" we humans face. Learning the gospel by gut, we endorse, we agree with the apostle..."Flee!". Flee that wrath coming, ever so surely coming.
So then, how we "get" the gospel is as a solution, the only solution, to our only real problem, this; His dreadful threat. He is coming, at the head of an army of hostile (and holy!) angels. He, their Supreme Commander is armed for war! Do you have a... a "strategy" perchance? Do you have...a hiding place? Because that is what this thing is about. The gospel is the only working answer to this, this the central threat we face as humanity. Learning the gospel by gut, is to wear the blood upon you, and agree! This sacrifice (of His) is the only solution.
The "twin pillars" of Justice and mercy is the domain of the drama. In brief; somebody has GOT to go!
If "pure justice" wins the day, then all of His foes are shattered, never to rise again. Every head rolls! We have no survivors, if justice wins, we go.
On the contrary, if "pure mercy" triumphs, then (I hate to be the one to break it to you) we just replaced the Almighty with Santa Claus, dressed up as the Easter bunny! If mercy wins, He has got to go!
Covenant, the real covenant between the Father and the Son, is the one "place" wherein He deals with these realities, those realities being that either man dies, or God is "sent away". Only He is actually serious about the problem here, and in the cross and resurrection He "finds" the only solution to the standoff. "Somebody"...has got to go! He...goes. It is our only hope. He "buys the deal".
Those snippets and whispers, those hints and prefigures we have, we know them so well! Adam and his fig-leaf brainwave, we find that his "cover" is replaced by skins (of the living) placed "upon" him. Noah, and the catastrophe of old, it's judgement coming, as come! Here, we find the one (precisely) "safe place", the one (not two) refuge against that storm. Or consider Jacob, the scoundrel "defrauding" his "older brother" out of the blessing. The "unfairness", the switch at the heart of the gospel, sends "the rightful inheritor away"! Or think of Moses and the blood upon doorposts, as the death angel sweeps the land. Under cover, of innocent blood...we "find" (or rather, are found!) life. What of Rahab and her kin, "found alive" after the invasion and destruction at "Jesus's" hand...
Far from a hamstrung, well-meaning nice Guy, wishing ever so hard that we'd (for once!) respond (well) to Him, we find the conquering King, laying down terms acceptable (to Him)...for unconditional surrender. We are agreeing (in the gut) that death sweeps all. Our "options" are either to die-with (Him)...or die alone, but everybody dies. We then, "die-with, and-in" Him. Now! Today! Gladly!...Consider the alternative.
Much more like Dwight Eisenhower putting on civilian clothes and going to Berlin in 1941 to deliver in person, terms acceptable; for unconditional surrender, to the NAZIs, is Jesus of Nazareth, King of Jews. This surely rather than some wimpy well meaning nice Guy. If Ike had done such, it would have been terrible strategy, and a waste of a great man. Think of it. The Supreme Allied Commander of the free armies of heaven, arriving in the center of His enemy's camp, in order to accept surrender! They would have hung Ike with a piano wire from the nearest light-pole. How much less then, was the True five star General "well received"?
He brings terms acceptable to Him, and to His (!) Commander. As in Noah's day, prior to the deluge, the ark (of life) is built. Likewise, prior to the overthrow (by fire) in Sodom, "messengers from above" Urge Lot and family to flee!
The gospel by gut is Sampson, but instead of the "sign-Sampson", the real One! That Champion Judge of Israel we find Him chained between the "twin pillars" of Justice and Mercy, in His enemy's house. For Him to pull down that house, man dies and God is "sent away"... He agrees! The demolition, the destruction on that day is total...He too dies.
And yet, standing up again out of that rubble, is the One Man, and Him un-condemned. Jesus Christ the Righteous is the sole survivor...except.
Except under Him! Look! Under where He fell, He shielded a small cadre with His body. And look, hidden in His side, where once "mother of the living" was found, is...His wife? That "small" congregation of the glad, can we get a count?
Yes Sir! Get outdoors and get me a head count on the stars of heaven will ya? Then sprint down to the beach, have a sit, and number the grains of sand, okey dokey?
Do you see? The "new age" is upon us! That kingdom wherein things work, and life makes sense...is begun. All that blasted noise in our heads about achievement-unto-acceptance is over! No Sir! We have been accepted for "Another's" sake, so then freed-unto-achievement! We've been looking at things upside down, we've been standing on our heads all along.
That pathway back to Eden is now closed. There is no return to that home. That world is being closed and sealed, but a world "above" is now opened.
It's a bit like a banquet you do not belong at, but attend under the care of "Another" in any case. It is a kind of "making room" in the White House for refugees, who turn out to be sons? The Covenant was the ONLY way He could "find" to both honor Himself, and display His goodness.
We are being sped...slowly; to a home...which we have never known, by He who knew us before we were conceived.
The gospel by gut is a fire and a light, and a gladness unkillable. we flee wrath, by running to...our Lover!
He "buys"..."the deal". Our hope now is unkillable, in that...He is!
Note to the reader: This version is more lengthy and "repaired" in junk syntax issues than the paper version. Bear with me, a work in progress!