A continuation of Clarifying the Gospel Part 1
1.The Gospel is that God, at cost to himself alone and under no obligation, provided for the reconciliation of humankind to Himself without us doing anything to deserve it.
God is the hero in every story. I’ll bet even if you’ve never been to church in your life you’ve heard this Bible story: David and Goliath.
In 1 Samuel 17 we read about David – he’s just a kid and he’s visiting his older brothers who serving in the army. All of Israel’s troops are camped out across the valley from the Phillistine army. This one guy named Goliath comes out each day and trash talks their God. David hears this once and wants a piece of him. The King of Israel let’s him go out and face Goliath so queue up the face off:
- In this corner we have a battle hardened soldier, Goliath. The Bible says he’s over 9 feet tall! He’s got the works: shield, sword, spear, helmet and armour.
- In this corner we have a kid who looks after sheep. He is not old enough to serve in the army so he is likely a teenager. He’s got a sling and some stones. Let’s do this.
(Warning! The rest of this post includes graphic visual materials.)
Without the Gospel in mind, this story becomes a moral tale: “Do what David did!” Most preachers will take this story and tell you to ‘Stand up to your giants!’ You and God can take on anything! It doesn’t matter what the odds, just make sure God is going in with you and you can’t lose! When this story is told like a moral tale the focus of the story is on David and not on the true hero. The hero of the story is God.
The truth of the matter is that the Israelites couldn’t defeat the giant. Without God’s intervention they couldn’t possibly win. Scholars believe that at this point in history (about 1050 BC) the Israelites were way behind in the arms race. The Philistines were working with bronze and were making swords and spears that were far superior to those found in Israel. They were way outgunned in this battle and had no business winning. It was only because of God’s intervening that they had a chance.
Instead of, “Be like David,” the point of the story should be, “if you don’t put your faith in the one to whom David points you will never be like David.” God is the hero of this story. This is not a story about being brave and standing up to the giants in your life (despite the fact that that is sometimes a good idea). This is a story about how David was the only one who was not looking to his own strength but instead was looking to the strength that God provides. That’s the Gospel: God provides the strength to make a difference, not us.