Are you passionate for the gospel? (revised)

or for a particular view of the gospel?

(in an effort to avoid giving a snippet of a comment, or in being a drive by blogger – I have included the whole thought to help give clarity to the issue I am wanting to address).

Gordon Fee in his commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (NICNT) for the passage 1:12-18a  writes:

It would be easy to dismiss this passage (vv.12-18a) either as anecdotal narrative or as Paul’s simply putting the best possible face on a bad situation. But that would be to miss too much. Paul can write things like this because, first, his theology is in good order. He has learned by the grace of God to see everything from the divine perspective.

This was not wishfulness but deep conviction – that God had worked out his own divine intentions through the death and resurrection of Christ, and they by his Spirit he is carrying them out in the world through the church, and therefore through both himself and others. It is not that Paul is too heavenly minded to be in touch with reality, or that he see things through rosy-tinted glasses.

Rather, he sees everything in light of the bigger picture; and in that bigger picture, fully emblazoned on our screen at Calvary, there is nothing that does not fit, even if it means suffering and death on the way to resurrection. Such theology dominates this letter in every part; we should not be surprised that it surfaces at the outset, even in this brief narrative.

Second, and related to the first, Paul is a man of a single passion: Christ and the gospel. Everything is to be seen and done in the light of Christ. For him both life and death mean Christ. He is the passion of the single minded person who has been “apprehended by Christ,” as he will tell the Philippians in 3:12-14.

Third, Paul’s passion for Christ led him to an understanding of discipleship in which the disciple took up a cross to follow his Lord. Discipleship, therefore, meant “to participate in the sufferings of Christ” (3:10-11), to be ready to be poured out as a drink offering in ministry for the sake of others (2:17). His imprisonment belongs to those trials for which “we are destined” (1 Thess 3:3), and thus come as no surprise.

Interestingly, these three theological realities are what also make for Paul’s largeness of heart. True, he lacks the kind of “largeness” for which religious pluralists contend. Is that because such pluralists have not been “apprehended by Christ” and the gospel, as God’s thing – his only thing – on behalf of our fallen world? Unfortunately, such pluralism often has very little tolerance for the Paul’s of this world. Tolerance seems easier to one’s left than to one’s right!

But in Paul’s case, it is his theological convictions that lead both to his theological narrowness, on the one hand, and to his large-heartedness within those convictions, on the other – precisely because he recognizes that gospel for what it is: God’s thing, not his own. And that, it should be added, also stands quite over and against many others who think of themselves as in Paul’s train, but whose passion for the gospel seems all too often a passion for their own “correct” view of things.

At stake for the Philippians – and for us, I would venture – is the admonition finally made explicit in 4:9; to put into practice for ourselves what we *hear* and *see* in Paul, as well as what we have learned and have received by way of his teaching (125-126).

I found the comment I put in bold pretty interesting – so there are those who have a passion for the gospel and then there are those who have a passion for a particular understanding of the gospel?  Is that it?

How complicated does it need to get? In my estimation 1 Corinthians 15 :1-11 seems to give a fair summation:

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.  6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,  8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.  9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

What’s up with those who have “a passion for their own “correct” view of things“?  What ever does he mean? 

One response to “Are you passionate for the gospel? (revised)

  1. This is one of the major reasons (I speak for myself), that we must seek a Catholic and Orthodox Faith! Note your text, 1 Cor. 15:1-8..also thru verse 11. But right down into the Body-life of the Church, orthodoxy & orthopraxy!

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