Is the gospel true?

Do you believe the gospel is true?

Not true in a factual sense, but true in a world-altering, Holy Spirit-empowering, life-transforming, I’d-sell-everything-for-this-treasure kind of way? True in the way that leads you to cry out for God to work in the world because without his intervening action, nothing worth doing will get done? True in the sense that the in-breaking reign of God changes everything because in Jesus’ death and resurrection, sin was dealt with, death was defeated, and a new reality was ushered into existence?

Do you believe the gospel is true?

I asked myself this question as I participated in International Justice Mission’s global prayer gathering. It’s an annual event that gathers staff and prayer supporters to worship, orient themselves to the reality of who Jesus is, and lift their voices in praise and petition for his hand of justice to reign in the world.

“This weekend, we will take the first and very best tool to battle and contend for the violently oppressed in our world – prayer,” declared Bethany Hoang, director of the IJM Institute of Biblical Justice.

Aside from the peculiarity of 1,200 people gathered to pray for lawyers (too many jokes begging to be told here!), it was an inspiring event.  IJM leaders repeatedly reminded us that unless God is at work, the victims of oppression, slavery, and sexual exploitation will never find freedom. We heard countless stories of God’s miraculous answers to prayer. The pursuit of justice is a cause that requires persistence and perseverance that few of us can fathom. But the tide is turning in communities around the globe by God’s mighty hand in response to the prayers of his people.

Living with holy expectation

Do we believe the gospel is true? If not, we will not pray, we will not petition, we will not “watch” (Matthew 26:40) because we don’t live with anticipation that God will work among us. Our assumptions about who God is and how he works in this world will determine our expectations, our hopes, and our prayers.

William Temple, late Archbishop of Canterbury said, “If your conception of God is radically false, then the more devout you are, the worse it will be for you. You are opening your soul to be molded by something else. You had much better be an atheist.”

“If we get Christology wrong, the most basic of the church’s theological touchstones, then whatever we do after that could be toxic,” writes Alan Hirsch. “Therefore a recovery of the full phenomenon of Jesus (his incarnation, life and teachings, together with the salvific events of cross, resurrection, and parousia), with all it represents to the movement that claims his name, must lie at the very heart of any effort to renew the church and its mission.”

We must constantly reorient ourselves to Jesus. Then we pray. Not just the thank-you-for-this-food or help-my-team-win prayers, but persistent, expectant, faith-filled prayers.

In Luke 18, Jesus told his disciples to persevere in prayer. To drive the point home, he told the story of the persistent widow. It’s a story with a simple point – pray! Pray persistently. Pray unceasingly. Pray expectantly.

Prayer points

I’m convinced and convicted that Canadian Mennonite Brethren need to develop an ever-increasing culture of prayer if we want to see Canada transformed by the good news of Jesus Christ, one life at a time.

I invite you to pray:

• For our leaders on the executive board and the board of faith and life, as they seek God’s strategic direction.

• For our national and provincial staff as they work with congregations across Canada.

• For spiritual renewal and vitality in our churches from coast to coast.

• For the upcoming study conference on human sexuality, where there is potential for conflict or misunderstanding, that the Spirit will guide our thinking, processing, and conversation.

• For our churches working with First Nations populations, especially in light of the Idle No More movement – these congregations need the Holy Spirit’s wisdom, compassion, and favour within their communities.

• For our new church plants in urban centres, as planters follow God’s call to live sacrificially and intentionally in
the city.

• For the leadership of MBBS as they continue to develop courses to prepare students for ministry in our churches.

• For our congregations, pastors, and church boards across Canada for
wisdom, faith, and courage.

To sign up for regular prayer updates, please email sanderton@mbconf.ca.

—Willy Reimer is CCMBC executive director and lives in Calgary with his family.

One Comment on “Is the gospel true?

  1. Willy, you wrote:

    “Not true in a factual sense, but true in a world-altering, Holy Spirit-empowering, life-transforming, I’d-sell-everything-for-this-treasure kind of way?”

    I would suggest that there is a category confusion in your thinking. I’d suggest that you’re conflating the reality of the gospel with the response to the gospel.

    There aren’t levels of “truth”; there’s no tier 1 and tier 2 of truth.

    Either Jesus died on the cross on behalf of some sinners or he didn’t.
    Either Jesus propitiated the wrath of God against some sinners or he didn’t.
    Either Jesus bodily rose from the dead or he didn’t.
    Either Jesus ascended into heaven to perform priestly intercession for believers or he didn’t.
    …etc..

    Only when a person believes the factual statements of the gospel can a person react to that belief.

    I’d suggest that most of us MBs either actually don’t believe the biblical gospel at all (and embrace a false gospel), or we don’t know the gospel with any respectable level of depth (i.e. we can repeat the propositional statements but cannot actually unpack their meaning). Either one results in a lack of any significant level of response.

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