My study through Ephesians leads me one simple conclusion. This is a conclusion reached by James Jordan long before N.T. Wright ever came into the scene. Ephesians teaches that the gospel is much greater than individual salvation or forgiveness (though this is strongly included in Ephesians), but the mystery of the gospel is as Peter Leithart summarizes:
The mystery of the gospel, God’s secret now openly told in the gospel, has to do with the union of all things in heaven and earth in Christ; it has to do with the union of the heavenly people (Jews) and the earthly people (Gentiles) into one new man who stretches between heaven and earth.
Every Sunday after I give the Lord’s commission to His covenant people (this month from Acts 1:8) I tell them to live according to the commands of the gospel. This would appear to be an unthinkable dichotomy in some Reformed circles. How can one obey the gospel? Law and Grace are to be treated separately. Some would say: “Law condemns,” but “Grace Saves.” There is no obedience involved in the gospel, but only the mercy of God poured out to sinners. Some would even trace this thinking back to the Reformers. It is true that Luther viewed this distinction clearly. But for those in the Reformed side of the tradition (The Calvinian branch), we see a very different picture displayed. In preparing for my sermon on John 10 this coming Lord’s Day, I came across Calvin’s brief observation on John 10:14. He says the following:
But it means also that he utterly disregards all who do not obey the Gospel, as he repeats in the second clause, and confirms what he had formerly said, that — on the other hand — he is known by the sheep.
This may be a difficult sentence to understand, but Calvin’s point is still clear. The great shepherd disregards those who do not obey the gospel. Here we have obedience and gospel brought together.
Neo-cons like to play “gotcha” when they ask the question to liberals or classic liberals–paleo-cons like myself–Do you think we are better off with Saddam dead? Neo-Conservatives then gleam with excitement, because if those who oppose the war say “no,” then the O’Reilly’s of the media will harp at the many lives that died under Saddam before the US occupation. If they respond with “yes,” then the animated neo-cons will have achieved they desired aim: to continue the occupation indefinitely.
After six years of this undeclared war, Christians need to turn that question around. What happened to the Christians in Iraq after the US invasion? What happened to the proclamation of the gospel in Iraq after the invasion? Why have Christians in Iraq been systematically killed after the US aggression? And finally, what happened to the 2,000 year tradition of Christians in the Middle East? Christians who support this war need to take another look at the outcome of the war. They need to stop looking at the interest of their humanistic party and start looking at the interest of the gospel. CBS News reports:
But now, after nearly 2,000 years, Iraqi Christians are being hunted, murdered and forced to flee — persecuted on a biblical scale in Iraq’s religious civil war.
The 60 Minutes report on Christians in Iraq will lead us to take another look at the devastation and perpetual damage US interventionism has caused for the gospel of our Lord.