- Cherishing and living the doctrines of grace (0:29)
- Being prepared to die (0:59)
- Loving others to the end (2:12)
- Gospel doctrine, gospel culture (3:32)
- What impedes gospel culture and progress (5:09)
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Sam Allberry: Right, we are part of a network that cherishes the doctrine of grace. We seek to preach the doctrine of grace. How can churches that are preaching the doctrine of grace also make sure they’re living the same doctrine of grace?
Ray Ortlund: That really matters, because we can deny our doctrine, not by changing or falsifying our form of doctrinal statement, but by treating one another with ungrace. I think of John 13:34-35, where our Lord says, “A new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved you, you should love one another. And this will be evidenced to the whole world that you really do belong to me.”
How did our Lord love us? Well, he died for us. I believe, Sam, that we can validate our doctrine of grace by treating one other with such grace, such mercy, such non-judging, receiving, welcoming love as Jesus loved us, that we wake up each morning, I know this is going to sound crazy, but we wake up each morning, psychologically prepared to die for one another. Now, in some unforeseeable providence of God, that only He should orchestrate, that has happened in the past.
I think we should be ready for that. And it would be a supreme privilege, I don’t deserve that privilege to die for someone else, to die for you, but I want to wake up each morning prepared for that. But it’s unlikely, isn’t it? Just in the course of normal events. But here’s another way in which Jesus loved us that is fully accessible and available to all of us and would completely validate our theology of grace.
In verse one of John 13, it says, “Having loved His own, who were in the world, He loved them to the end. Loving one another to the end, without turning away, without forsaking one another, without getting fed up with one another.” Sam, our petty, little considerations of likes and dislikes are so small and unworthy. When we become Christians and start preaching the doctrine of grace and want to demonstrate that doctrine in our churches and in our relationships, we leave behind small considerations. We enter into the massive glory of the love of Christ, which means that we must demand of ourselves that we will love one another to the end. We will not turn away. We will not divide. We will not fragment. We will love one another, even when we don’t like each other. We will submerge that unworthy, petty, childish thought, and dare to love one another to the end.
Sam Allberry: Wow, that’s awesome. I’ve often heard you describe it as there’s gospel doctrine, but there has to be gospel culture, which is what you’ve just described. It’s that the actual message we are teaching, the message that we are hearing, shapes our posture, shapes our tone, shapes our attitude. I was thinking of, I think John Calvin’s definition of the church is the place where the word of God is preached and heard and the sacrament’s duly administered or something along those lines. And it’s the bit and heard that I keep thinking about because it’s easy to think, well, if the word of God is preached, therefore it’s a healthy church. And it’s possible to be preaching all the right doctrines, but if they’re not being heard and received, then actually the church may not be healthy. Gospel preaching is essential, but in and of itself, it’s not sufficient. If it’s not actually then shaping and permeating the life of a local congregation.
And I think I remember first, I think reading your book on this a few years ago, and I think that the first major step a church can take towards this is even just the recognition that there is such a thing as gospel culture that a church needs. I think we so often assume, well, as long as what is coming out of the pulpit is sound, we’re okay. Whereas, there’s that further step of making sure the word of God is preached and heard.
Ray Ortlund: And heard and received. Here’s another way I ask the question, what is it that impedes the progress of the gospel in our moment in time, in our cultural moment? I do not believe it’s secular progressivism, the sexual revolution, politics in Washington and so forth. Those things are worthy and significant considerations, but what impedes the progress of the gospel in the world today is churches that preach the gospel from the pulpit and have it on their doctrinal statement. But looking at that church, the tone, the social environment they create ,the relationships, the history of that church, it looks like an anti gospel.
The real problem is always in amidst people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them, we decide if the gospel is going to advance and we decide that not just at the level of what our formal doctrine is, but what our informal relationships are. And when our nation can see in us the kind of grace, mercy, love, the dropping of judgment. God has lowered his gun in looking at us and embraced us to His heart. When we can demonstrate that kind of mercy toward one another, that joy over one another, that receiving of one another, then the gospel will explode. Until then, maybe, if we’re not willing to make our relationships right, then could we have the honesty to shut up about gospel doctrine?