最近，为了准备一个在我教会的青年团契的分享，我重新阅读了由穆瑞（Iain Murray)著写的钟马田(Martyn Lloyd-Jones)牧师的传记《钟马田，头四十年》（Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the first forty years)。在数年之后，再次拿起此书，使我获益匪浅，有温故而知新的体会。只是不知这本传记是否有中文翻译没有？若是你知道，能够通知我，是一件美事。
不认识钟马田的朋友，或许不知道，他曾被誉为二十世纪最伟大的讲道者。他致力于释经讲道，曾用了将近13年的时间逐章逐节地传讲罗马书的信息。对于我个人来说，从他身上学习的，不只是单单正统的神学而已。而是他如何将正统的信仰与热忱的敬虔揉合进入他的生命当中。在钟马田退休后，曾在美国的西敏神学院(Westminster Seminary)发表了一系列的讲课, 名为《讲道与讲道者》(Preaching and Preachers)。在第一堂讲课时，他就宣告说，“讲道乃现今是教会最大的需要。“。如果我们去询问，当今教会最大的需要是什么的时候，教会里头可能许多人的答案并非如此。辅导、门徒训练、家庭讲座、小组聚会、团契聚会等等已经逐渐从次要的地位升到首要的地位了。面对如此的情况，相信钟马田牧师会毫无疑问地指出，这样只是本末倒置而已。只有满有圣灵恩膏，合乎圣经的讲道，才能真正使教会成长。就如神起初用话语使无变有，造了诸世界一样，神今天建立教会，种植教会，也是通过他的话语。我们需要祷告，寻求神，使传讲他话语的仆人，再次兴起。
THESIS: It is very important to [mentally] divorce the gospel from its implications and entailments. [Do NOT divorce these in your life and practice–that is James 2 hypocrisy!]
Specifically, he mentions a God-Man-Christ-Response(abbv. GMCR) presentation of the gospel i.e. God is holy; Man is sinful; Christ died on the cross to pay the price of our sins; Man needs to repent and put their faith in Christ to be saved. However, there is another way to look at the gospel: Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration(abbv. CFRR) i.e. God created the world good; The world fell through sin; Christ redemptive work on the Cross to reconcile the world; God will restore the world by bringing in the new heavens and the new earth. It seems quite clearly from Mark Dever’s post that he is favouring and insisting on the primacy of the GMCR presentation(by calling it the Gospel).
1. We usually end up using some combination of GMCR and CFRR in the end e.g. we are not able to explain the present state of the world without referring back to the Fall event. Furthermore, the CFRR approach is a healthy corrective to the perception that Christianity is only concerned with spiritual salvation. The coming of the new heavens and the new earth shows clearly that God’s redemptive purpose is wholesome and complete and not compartmentalized. Furthermore, the CFRR provides a great backgroud to understanding GMCR especially for biblically illiterate people. It should be noted that the GMCR approach already assumes a lot of Christian worldview to begin with.
2. However, it is very tempting (for myself included) to talk about CFRR all day long without ever getting near GMCR. (hence the discomfort Mark Dever spoke of). In the GMCR approach, we have to speak of God’s wrath, judgement etc. We have to speak of sin in a personal way. (There is a version of CFRR which speaks of sin and evil in a structural, societal, systematic way that never gets personal) God is angry at sin not only in a general way. His wrath is personal, it remains on those who rejects the Son (John 3:36)
3. Related to point 2, the advocates of CFRR are usually not good at majoring on penal substitutionary atonement. Christ’s death is portrayed as a paradoxical victory over the forces of evil and darkness(the Christus Victor model) but not as a propitiatory sacrifice to turn away the wrath of the God. But this is a false either/or. We are not compelled by scripture to choose one over the other, rather, we are to embrace both as being taught in scriptures. On the other hand, it is not merely a matter of balance, a mere matter of proportion e.g. giving both perspective equal time. To cut to the chase, the perspective on the Cross as victory over the forces of evil and darkness is based on penal substition. Paul puts them together in Col 2:14-15 “…by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” It is by cancelling the record of debt, it is by dealing with our personal sin on the cross, that Christ gave us victory over the forces of darkness. It would take me more words to be clearer on my thoughts on this. But these are some reflections as I have it now.
My good friend for many years, Tan Huai Tze, has started a new blog. The name of the blog is Romans 11:36, and indeed we pray that all things would be to God’s glory. His initial post has drawn our attention to the emerging(a loaded word, heh heh) gospel-centred movement in America, initiated by Don Carson, Tim Keller, Mark Dever and the likes.
“Many see the Gospel as a narrow set of teachings about Jesus’ Death and Resurrection that if rightly believed, “tip” people into the Kingdom of God. After that the real training, life transformation, discipleship and maturity take place. In summary, the Gospel is treated as the door into the Kingdom of God.
However, the emphasis of the Bible, is that the Gospel is the all embracing category that holds much of the whole bible together. The Gospel takes Christians from lost-ness, condemnation, alienation from God all the way through conversion and discipleship to the consummation, resurrection bodies and the new heavens and the new earth.”
Such thinking, if true and biblical, is revolutionary indeed. Our habitual thinking usually assumes the gospel to be the introductory level material and deep theology and arduous spiritual disciplines the real substance of the Christian life. However, if the gospel is not merely ABCs but A-Z (to quote Tim Keller), how does that affect our lives and daily walk? This, I think, is a place where there’s lots of room for everyone to learn.
It was said that when Watchman Nee passed away, somebody found this written on a small slip of paper under his pillow:
“Christ is the Son of God who died for man to pay for sins and resurrected on the third day.
This is the greatest fact in the whole universe. I died because I believed in Christ. Watchman Nee”
Is it too much of an exagerration to say that the death and resurrectio of Jesus Christ is the greatest fact in the world? How about what Paul wrote to the Corinthians 2000 years ago:
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried,
Whatever one might say about the theology of Watchman Nee. He was of one Spirit with Paul in this. What is the greatest fact in the whole of universe? What is of first importance?