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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
 
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Thursday, January 11, 2007
Stop and Think...
Everyone has an opinion....If you run in the same circles as me, you are already aware of the differing opinions about Pastor Francis Chan's gospel video. On the one side you have people who are saying that this is a fair presentation of the gospel, even if it isn't exactly how they would do it. On the other side you have people saying that this presentation is lacking some things that they would never leave out and because it is lacking, they say that whatever else it is, it isn't -THE- Gospel™.

I probably know more about the gospel than most first century believers ever did. That isn't meant to sound high handed, it is meant to recognize that 2000 years of NT scholarship have increased and polished our understanding of the gospel. It hasn't changed the gospel, but it has allowed us to describe it far more precisely than our fore bearers ever did.

If we continue at the pace we are going, I suspect that in one hundred years time someone will be able to articulate the gospel with even more precision than we are able to articulate it today - which is not to say that the gospel we have today is insufficient, or that the gospel that saved the thief on the cross was insufficient - but rather it is to say that the effectiveness of the gospel is in no way dependant upon the cleverness of men to describe it. It is one thing to say a thing that is contrary to the gospel - that would be a hindrance, an error - a grievous mishandling of a divine truth. But it is quite another to say that unless the gospel is perfectly articulated it is no longer the gospel.

I mentioned the thief on the cross. What was gospel did he hear?

He heard the Chief priests mocking Christ as one who saved others but seemingly couldn't save Himself. He even took part in their taunting Christ. When they demanded that Christ demonstrate His messianic claim by saving Himself from His fate (c.f. Luke 23:35) and coming down from the cross (c.f. Matthew 27:40) he hung there beside Christ - a man he knew to be innocent - and watched forgive those who were crucifying Him. He knew that once you were put on the cross it was over - that there is no eleventh hour mercy from the Romans - no one was pulled down alive - once you were up there you came down dead and that was it. He knew therefore that this gracious benevolence was some last minute ploy to charm his tormentors into releasing Him - this was an innocent man full of grace, and as he watched the Messiah speak to His disciple John, and commit the care of His earthly mother into John's hand - this man was not trying to seduce out of the Romans a stay of execution - He was here to die, and He knew it - He was being put to death unjustly, but He wasn't fighting it - he was forgiving those who hated Him even as they mocking Him in His demise. In this hour the thief understood something - this was the Christ.

When the thief "came to himself" he said a few things that tell us a great deal about where his heart was in that moment; he asked the other thief, "Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." Luke 23:40b-41 [NASB]. Somewhere between mocking Christ and death, this thief realized that this was it. Now was the time to make peace with God. In that statement we see the admission of guilt - he knew himself to be a sinner justly condemned for his sins by men, and now about to answer to God immediately following his own demise. In this torment, the thief cried out for mercy saying only, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.." In that one statement the thief demonstrated that he recognized Christ as the messiah, and was asking for mercy - he didn't try and justify himself, but just asked for mercy when Christ came into His kingdom - and what was Christ's reply?
"You shall be with Me in Paradise."


Make no mistake, this man was saved by grace through faith - but was the gospel that he received that day plainly articulated by Christ, and if not - was Christ a poor minister of the gospel? Was Christ deficient in presenting the whole counsel of God? Do we sleight or criticize the Savior for doing less than He could have? Is there no room for the sovereignty of God in what Christ said and did not say on the cross?

I believe that if Pastor Francis Chan's presentation was an act of obedience to Christ, then we ought to praise God for our brother's obedience in the matter, and trust in the sovereignty of God to fill in the blanks - and perhaps more so - to trust that the blanks are even sovereignly there, just as they were with the thief on the cross. In these things we ought to rejoice if we trust God is doing exactly what he plans to do.

If on the other hand we believe that Pastor Francis' gospel presentation has merit only in proportion to how comprehensively it details -every- aspect of the soteriological process, then we are free to invalidate Pastor Francis' presentation on the grounds that, soteriologically speaking, he didn't use the same buzzwords we would have or possibly even because he didn't place his emphasis in the same place or way that I would have.

Bottom line? The seed that is being sown here is the gospel, even if Pastor Francis didn't do any plow work beforehand to prepare the soil for it.

Really, I think that is what is at the heart of this confusing disagreement: knowing where to draw the line between the seed and the soil.

Listen: If there has ever been even one moment in your life where you didn't fully obey the God of Abraham, that is, if there was ever even a moment of independence from God in you - you are a sinner, and you will in no way enter into heaven because your sin makes you imperfect - and no one can go to heaven unless they are perfect before God - there are no exceptions. Until you fully feel the weight of God's condemnation upon you - God pointing the finger of eternal damnation at you personally - you are not even close to the truth. But when you see yourself as absolutely condemned right now - when you see that there is nothing you can do to change this - that doing good deeds from now until the day you die cannot even begin to repay your sin debt - that you are without hope in this life because your very first rejection of God was accepted in full, and now you stand to reap what you have sown and all your tears and hope for mercy are not going to change that guilty verdict even if you could earnestly cry about it from now till they lay you in your grave - your tears, your efforts, your emotions, your hopes, your prayers - none of these can change the verdict - you are condemned to hell sinner, and there is not a thing you can do to change that.

When I tell you this I am taking the light of truth, and shining it on your ignorance. I am taking the sword of the Spirit, and cutting a path to your heart through the ground that is currently being held by the enemy - and if that light can shine upon you so that you see it - I am preparing you for the truth just as a wise farmer prepares the soil for the seed - I am plowing through the fallow ground that your self confidence and ignorance have allowed left unattended - I am breaking soil so that the gospel might take root.

But I don't mistake this plowing for sowing. I don't mistake this plowing for the seed itself.

The seed is the gospel: the sure promise that if you call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved.

I might, because I don't want to fool you into thinking you are saved by reciting some prayer, explain to you that you will never be able to really trust God to save you until you turn to Him in earnest - that is, I may mention that unless you repent you will certainly perish - but even that profound truth can't be called "the gospel" proper - it is certainly soteriologically related and important - but failure to mention it does not mean you have flubbed a presentation of the gospel, it just means you haven't plowed as deep or as thoroughly as you could/should have.

I make a distinction between presenting the "way of salvation" and defining the gospel. The gospel is the pinnacle soteriological truth that you are saved from your sin by faith in Christ and not through any self effort - but is typically the "punch line" of the whole soteriological process. Some no doubt feel that this distinction is artificial and/or overly precise, and I accept that without criticism. We are splitting hairs after all.

What Pastor Francis's video has done is brought a bunch of people out of the woodwork who are willing to express where they draw a box around the gospel - around the truth that saves, or around the whole soteriological process, or somewhere in between.

If I say that Pastor Francis -has- presented the gospel, then I put myself on the side that draws a line between the soil and the seed, and recognizes that Pastor Francis has indeed sown the good seed - even if I think he has done no ground work up front in preparing the soil to receive it.

If I say that pastor Francis has not presented the gospel, then I see the preparing of the soil as part of the gospel message, and the burden is on me to show even one example from scripture that does this.
posted by Daniel @ 3:13 PM  
14 Comments:
  • At 5:57 PM, January 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yep.

     
  • At 6:54 PM, January 11, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    He's back!

     
  • At 9:21 AM, January 12, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Not back yet - just treading water...


    BTW it was a balmy -36 this morning. By the time I got on my bus I had a beard full of ice.

     
  • At 9:47 AM, January 12, 2007, Blogger Jim said…

    Yeah, wasn't that a cold one this morning!

     
  • At 11:20 AM, January 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You may not be fully "back", but your sharp insight just made an appearance, for sure...

     
  • At 11:21 AM, January 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh, and I'm wearing shorts here in Florida...

     
  • At 11:49 AM, January 12, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    This morning, perhaps more so than most, I began to hope the Lord would find a way in his grace to give me a warmer place to live.

    But not too warm mind you.

     
  • At 2:29 PM, January 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel, your comentary on the controversy in question is the best I have read. How many of us, after giving a presentation of the gospel, ever feel that we have done it justice? I certainly haven't.

    Have you ever considered the suburbs of Minneapolis? This morning I think we were at a relatively balmy -3.

     
  • At 2:38 PM, January 12, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    St. Lee, I shall have to check it out next month when I come down - I want to see what all the hype is about...

     
  • At 8:21 PM, January 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with your thoughts here. I just watched the video, and I laud him for his desire, even if I disagree with him on some points. When I read your thoughts above, I kept saying, yes, yes, yes. So, amen brother!

    Stay warm! We are having some chilly weather here in Seattle, lot's-o-ice...

    In Christ,
    Joe

     
  • At 11:17 PM, January 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Is that -36C Or F? I have no comment on the content of the presentation, but a question. I know time has passed me by, but what age or group of people needs to be spoken to as if their IQ were around 75-80?

     
  • At 4:06 PM, January 13, 2007, Blogger Rick Potter said…

    Daniel,

    Enjoyed this post. In the place you said: "Bottom line? The seed that is being sown here is the gospel, even if Pastor Francis didn't do any plow work beforehand to prepare the soil for it.

    Really, I think that is what is at the heart of this confusing disagreement: knowing where to draw the line between the seed and the soil.
    "

    I found this commentary on Isa. 28:23-29 interesting:

    "As Herbert Vander Lugt points out, the prophet illustrates
    the way God deals with His children by citing three aspects of a farmer’s work. First, he declares that the plowman doesn’t continue breaking the ground indefinitely, but stops when it is ready for planting (v. 24). Likewise, our trials are brought to an end as soon as they have accomplished His purposes in our lives. Then the prophet says that the farmer sows his seed with discernment, scattering the cummin but putting the wheat in rows (vv. 25, 26). This assures us that the Lord carefully selects the discipline especially suited to our particular need. Finally, Isaiah portrays the laborer threshing his crop. With extreme care he beats out the dill with a light stick, and strikes the cummin with a heavier flail. For the wheat he employs a wheel just heavy enough to avoid crushing the grain (vv. 27, 28). Thus the Almighty uses the gentlest possible touch for our condition, never allowing an affliction to be greater than we can bear.

    MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Is 28:23). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

     
  • At 8:02 AM, January 14, 2007, Blogger Daniel said…

    Rick - I find the examples the bible gives never really "break down" - the more you scrutinize them, the better they get! Thanks for that.

     
  • At 7:30 PM, January 19, 2007, Blogger Rick Potter said…

    Agreed!

    You're Welcome!

     
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