March 2, 2010
Are You Just Reciting the Gospel to Yourself?
"…with Him… Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking
of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem."
Luke 9:27 NASB
If you're following along in our weekly journey through the works of Francis Schaeffer, the Scripture passage above appears in chapter two of True Spirituality where there is a lengthy discussion about the centrality of death in the Christian life. Much needs to be said about the practice of dying daily to self and about taking up one's cross to follow Christ. But we cannot progress there before dealing with a more foundational matter.
In Old Testament times, the highest concentration of recorded miracles occurred during the ministries of Moses and Elijah. Christ's earthly ministry was obviously characterized by miracles as well. One might think that their conversation could have revolved around great miraculous wonders that they had been a part of, but no.
In our Scripture passage today we see Moses and Elijah speaking with Jesus at the Mount of Transfiguration about His impending departure—His death. And they're not just making a passing mention of the fact. The sense of the original text is that they were actively and continuously speaking about it—dwelling on it. Of course, it makes sense that the gospel would be the central focus of their conversation. After all, the salvation of Moses and Elijah depended upon the substitutionary death of Christ too.
But I imagine that their gospel conversation resembled nothing of the detached rehearsal of orthodox beliefs that sometimes echoes down the icy corridors of our thoughts. After all, the Object of their redemption was standing right there with them. Profound and grateful recognition of all that Christ was about to endure for them must have been integral to the moment. His presence energized their orthodoxy.
While it is certainly a good and positive thing that the phrase "Preach the gospel to yourself everyday" has become a buzz term in Christendom—and we should do that—we don't merely recite orthodox beliefs to ourselves alone. Christ is not a remote figment of man's imagination. He is the God Who is there. Just as Moses and Elijah were "with Him"… in His presence, so we too must continuously rehearse the gospel while recognizing that we are in the presence of the God Who is there. The Christian life flows from the constant spring of dwelling on the gospel with the Redeemer Himself.
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that man can be, Thou, God art present there.
"I Sing the Mighty Power of God" ~ isaac watts