The Gospel Never Ceases to Amaze
Some things, no matter how many times you experience them, no matter how many times you hear or read them, never grow boring, stale, or tiresome.
For some people it's a place such as the beach or the home where they grew up. For others it's a piece of music or a work of art.
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy masterpiece, The Return of the King, the hobbit Pippen has this experience over the sound of distant horns.
In one of the most desperate scenes of the book, the armies of Mordor breach the gate of Minas Tirith. The Lord of the Nazgûl rides in triumph and terror into the city. Yet at that precise moment, the horns of the Rohirrim, who had come unforeseen to the battlefield, erupt in the distance. Gondor will be rescued! The Lord of the Nazgûl is forced to depart and . . . .
"When the dark shadow at the Gate withdrew Gandalf still sat motionless. But Pippin rose to his feet, as if a great weight had been lifted from him; and he stood listening to the horns, and it seemed to him that they would break his heart with joy. And never in after years could he hear a horn blown in the distance without tears starting in his eyes. (J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King, Book 5, Ch. 6, The Pyre of Denethor)
The braying of distant horns never grew tiresome to Pippen. It always evoked this poignant moment of joy.
The Gospel produces that same fruit in our hearts. Romans 1:18 - 3:20 descends in a dreadful description of God's just wrath towards proud, rebellious, and idolatrous humanity. Then there's the wondrous turn in 3:21 which leads to these verses. . . .
Romans 3:23-25 "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith."
There it is! God counts to us the perfect righteousness of Christ as a free gift! We are freely given the gift of forgiveness, passive righteousness, and eternal life though we've doe nothing to deserve it!
This is the theological core of Christianity and how contrary it is to the social fabric of western culture. The doors of this world open and close based on your cleverness, connections, wealth, or morality.
Yet, this free gift of imputed righteousness isn’t discovered by the clever; it’s discovered by those who know their folly and see the wisdom of God in Christ.
This free gift of eternal life isn’t accessed by the well-connected; it’s accessed by those who connect themselves to a first-century commoner, Jesus of Nazareth.
This free gift of eternal life with God can’t be bought to the wealthy; it’s freely given to those who know their need and come to God with empty hands.
This fee gift of righteousness isn’t earned by those who conquer their sin; it’s given to those who realize that they need someone else to conquer it.
The Gospel is unparalleled! It never ceases to amaze.