That’s a pretty wonkish title, I know. Whatever, it’s my blog.
Every Tuesday night, the men of Immanuel Nashville meet for Theology. Theology is pretty basic:
- Walking in the Light
- Bestowing Honor
We talk about Jesus and the bible, then we confess our sins to each other, and then we finish by celebrating one another. It fits in the whole rubric of Immanuel quite well.
Having gone to these since they began in January, right after we moved, I can say that they are powerful but not in a way I’m used to. I’m used to stepping into “Men’s Bible Studies” of various kinds armed to the teeth to fight heresy, proclaim the gospel, and hopefully shine some Jesus on my brothers.
Theology isn’t like that. It’s very subdued in many ways. The topic isn’t ever some pet theological theory or concept or innovation: it’s Jesus and the gospel. That’s the subject, no matter where we are teaching it from. It’s interactive, which I love, but it’s also not a grandstanding display of men showing off their recent discovery of Arthur Pink.
This week, my brother Chad expounded a visual representation of what I believe is a “gospel Maslow’s Hierarchy.” For those not familiar, Maslow’s Hierarchy is a pyramid of basic human needs:
The fun thing about Maslow’s is that it’s almost entirely self-serving idolatry. What we did last night, however, is not.
So here’s the Gospel Hierarchy:
So your basic need is the gospel. What is the gospel? You are only saved by grace(God’s favor and choice of you) through faith in Jesus(believing He is who He says He is) at the sacrifice all your works(everything good you could do is laid down because it can’t save you). That’s the gospel. That’s the idea behind all of Christianity. So what does the gospel produce?
Gratitude – We live lives thankfully and full of hope because Jesus has already paid our spiritual debt and delivered us from the final judgment.
Peace – We don’t have to strive anymore, we don’t have to fight anymore, and because of that we can live at peace with our fellow human beings, ourselves, and most importantly with God Himself.
These two primary foundations affect the way we live Life.
Life – How we deal with money, sex, relationships, family, social causes, politics. All of it is directly impacted by the level below it.
And then, instead of self-actualization being at the top of our pyramid, we have the old chief end of man.
Glory – We give God glory by living a life of peace and gratitude saved by grace through faith in Jesus.
Joy – We experience real joy, more than just fleeting happiness, in every part of this pyramid because our joy is tied to the glory of God Himself.
All of this might seem basic for theology nerds, but it’s still vital. And, for me, the pseudogospel pyramid was more important.
So what is a pseudogospel? It’s Jesus + anything. It’s Jesus + keeping the ceremonial/governmental Judaic Law. It’s Jesus + good works. It’s Jesus + anything else, because we are not and never can be Jesus + anything. That defeats the truth of the gospel and corrupts it absolutely.
So what does this pseudogospel produce?
Pride – If I add something to Jesus for my salvation, or just replace Jesus entirely, it produces deep and horrible pride in my heart. It tells me that I did something to save myself. I did “something” and should do “things” to keep my salvation.
Fear – I will always be afraid of losing it if I had a hand in producing it. I will always have to maintain and keep it up. It’s perilous and fragile and that produces panic and anxiety in me.
And from those two things, I live my Life. Always proving myself or afraid of judgment. In money, sex, relationships, etc. And when those things are broken, it produces despair and isolation.
Despair – Never experiencing joy and always on the edge of total collapse if not in shambles already.
Isolation – I can’t let anyone near me or allow them to see the real me.
And last night, when I watched this presented, it struck me deep. I realized there was a massive area within me that was still based on a pseudogospel. I was trusting in something in addition to Jesus for my “okayness.” And that was producing both pride and fear in me. And pride and fear were producing dark and rotten fruit in areas. Until last night, though, I hadn’t been able to figure out what it was all about. I couldn’t see the truth. Why?
Because I still believed the gospel, I had just allowed it to be added to. I had tolerated a false gospel coming into my heart in addition to the real one. And so what did I do? What we always ought to do: I repented to a brother. I looked him in the eye and I said that my sin was defeating me and I wanted to be free of it. He prayed for me. And today is a new day.
So where have you believed a false gospel? Where have you added something for you to trust in? You may not be able to see it that way, at first, but it’s much easier to ask, “What’s got you scared right now?”
Find it. Repent to another brother or sister. Pray. Trust Jesus.
Rinse and repeat.