Our Struggle with the Gospel (in modern street language!)

On my personal blog http://www.godlikesyou.wordpress.com/, I promised to re-translate my last post on our struggle to believe the Good News of Jesus Christ! Consider it “The Message” version of Karl Barth’s writing on the sidebar of this blog! I got colorful and broad in the re-translation but I believe it faithfully represents what Barth was trying to get across to us in our struggle! Enjoy!

“Let’s imagine God talking to a person about the Good News of who they already are in Jesus. The person to whom it is said thinks God is crazy and says that they are not this new, peaceful, joyful person living in fellowship with Him. The person is convinced there is no such person and, if there is, it certainly isn’t them (because they supposedly know themselves better than God does.)

The Word of grace replies: “I can appreciate your honesty, but you are embracing a lie and I am telling you the truth. Allow me to tell you the truth about yourself. After all, I created you and know way more than you do. In fact, I know everything! The truth is, you are the peaceful, joyful person I created you to be, even though you think otherwise.”

Person: “I know that it is your goal for me to become that kind of person over time. But I have low self-esteem, and absolutely no confidence in myself (I get this from my grandmother on my dad’s side you know.) These things pretty much confirm that I shall never become the person you speak of. “The proof is in the pudding” as they say!”

The Word of grace: “You are wise not to have confidence in yourself or in your family genetics, because those weaknesses are causing you to miss my point! I am NOT asking you to set a goal of becoming the person I want you to be. Not in the least! Impossible! What I am telling you is that, as I know you, you already ARE that person!”

Person: “Now I get it! You are a positive and optimistic thinker, and you are positively hoping that one day (perhaps a million light years from now) a miracle will occur and I might accidentally become that person by some freak of nature accident, right?! I’ve often wondered about that myself! Can you imagine the “smoke and mirror” trick it would take to pull off making me appear to be that kind of person? Ha! What a joke! Not even a fool could dream up something that crazy! And even if it did happen, I’m sure I would wake up a minute after I believed it and discover the truth of my pitiful and nightmarish REAL life once again!”

The Word of grace: “Wow! You sure are in the dark about my Light within you! Well, no worries! I will always love you and like you! In fact, I am always with you. I will never leave or forsake you, and I will keep doing everything possible to help you see me and yourself more clearly! We’ve got eternal time ahead of us, don’t we? Ha! The first thing I want you to understand is that I am not inviting you to speculate about who you are or will be!! I want you to receive and believe the Good News that right HERE, and right NOW, you have begun to be the new person! You are ALREADY that which you will be eternally.”

Person: “Do you think I was just born yesterday?! How can I even begin to accept such ridiculously Good News? Since you “know” everything about me then surely you "know" I am from the “Show me” state! Don’t just talk to me about it! Show me proof! Why should I listen to you and take you seriously?!”

The Word of grace: “You should take me seriously because, I, Jesus Christ, am the One who speaks to you! You are who and what you are in Me, just as I created and desired you to be! I have adopted you into the relationship I share with the Father in the Spirit as we planned it before the foundation of the world! I want you to believe that I am holding fast to you, so that you can experience holding fast to Me! I am your guarantee. My life is yours! When I lived as a human, you truly lived as a human! When I died, you died! When I rose and ascended to the Father and Spirit as a Man, you rose with me! You will always be with me wherever I am! My boldness is yours. With this boldness dare to be who and what you know you are deep in your soul (where I am shouting endlessly!)”

Person: “Whatever! I hear what you are trying to say, BUT . . .”

In this perplexed and startled “BUT…” we see that humanity is suffering an ungodly attack, and this attack explains our struggle to receive the Truth about ourselves as Truth!”

Timothy Brassell re-translating: Barth, Karl. Church Dogmatics, Volume IV, The Doctrine of Reconciliation, Part Three, First Half. Eds. G.W. Bromiley and T.F. Torrance. T. and T. Clark: Edinburgh, 1961. p. 250.


Anonymous said…
As I read about our struggle to grasp the Gospel, I am reminded that God just asks Christians to follow His New Covenant commands, which John wrote as being:

I Jn 3:23-24--And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (NIV)

This ideal represents indisputable evidence for the presence of real
Christianity. In addition, it is of note that Paul, too, searched for this evidence and rejoiced when he saw it in others, as illustrated by these NIV verses:

Gal 5:6--For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Eph 1:15-16--For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

Col 1:3-4--We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the
love you have for all the saints--

1Thes 3:6--But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love....

II Th 1:3--We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.

Phile 1:4-5--I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.

The fact is that for Paul, and all the other New Covenant writers, faith in (meaning belief in the name of) Jesus Christ and love for all the saints (meaning those who share that belief) is the mandatory evidence for the
presence of the authentic faith. Anything else, either standing in place of or being added into the true faith, produces something that is not Christian.

In other words, the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. This is an easily reachable ideal for us through Jesus Christ, and one we should walk in.


J. Richard Parker