Today’s Gospel is Tomorrow’s Law

I have a friend who is fond of saying, “Today’s gospel is tomorrow’s law.” I’ve heard him say it in a variety of contexts.

– When Christians believe that public school is the only appropriate way to be missional with your family.

– When Christians say that home schooling is the only good and proper way to educate your child.

– When the mark of your spirituality becomes whether or not you have adopted a child (or how many).

– When those believers who feel the liberty to consume alcohol turn up their noses at those who refrain.

Do you see it? We have an immense propensity to take the gospel and turn it into law. We love to take good and turn it into chains. Why do we do that?

The reasons are many, but I think a large part is that we love the measuring stick of the law. We love to compare ourselves to others, and to gauge our own spirituality based on performance. We love to take the law of God and make it into a ladder. Up, up, up we climb, and the more people below us the better we feel. For though we might not be close to the top, we’re sure doing better than those people below us.

So much do we love the law that we can form and fashion anything – even those wonderful examples of freedom or grace – into law. Our potential to distort the gifts of God to our own ends is limitless.

How is that the gospel remains the gospel – that those things in which there is liberty remain those things in which there is liberty? How can we be saved from our tendency toward distortion?

Surely not through our own power.

But herein lies again the wonder of the gospel, and here again is where we can be brought to awe because of its far-reaching power. For the gospel is the only answer for those, like me, who distort the gospel. There is grace for us, too. When we preach the gospel to ourselves daily, we will find that God will tear down the rungs of our carefully constructed ladders. And when those ladders are broken into shards and splinters, what will be left towering over the piles of rubble is the wooden beams of the cross.

And we’ll stand there at the base on perfectly level ground.

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  • Nanette says:

    “And when those ladders are broken into shards and splinters, what will be left towering over the piles of rubble is the wooden beams of the cross.

    And we’ll stand there at the base on perfectly level ground.”

    So true! Thanks for this post.

  • Ashley Smith says:

    Wow, so powerful. Thanks for such a pointed reminder! Much to think on…

  • Anthony says:

    great stuff. thanks for the meat to chew on.

  • Jon says:

    I’m a little confused. How are those things you mentioned “today’s gospel?” It just sounds like people who turn whatever they do into the only way to be spiritual are simply self-righteous and interested in looking good in front of others. They haven’t turned any “gospel” into law, they’ve just totally ignored God all together in order to be praised before men.

  • MK says:

    Jon – Thanks for the comment. First of all, I don’t mean to mislead with the word “today.” It’s only there to point out that something that someone might see as an outworking of the gospel today can easily become distorted in the future.

    Per your question about the nature of the gospel, I included these examples (of which there could be many more) because all of the examples are things which people might feel a certain conviction about. It might be the freedom to choose a certain kind of school, for example. These are outworkings of the gospel’s growth in people’s hearts. The problem comes when we use these areas, in which there might be disagreement, as the measure of spirituality.

    Which points to your next to last sentence – when I do this, I am acting self-righteously, which is the antithesis of the gospel.

  • There is only ONE Gospel-of Jesus Christ.
    I think you wanted to say about the christians who visit the church every sunday but really are not christian.
    They live with their principles, and do not care what the word of God is saying, and understand spirituality by changing just what visible is.
    Thanks for article.

  • Billy Usry says:

    Thanks for the message as I find myself as one of “those you compare yourself with other” This gives me alot to pray and mediate and work on.


  • Shawn Graham says:

    Great thoughts Michael. I feel like I needed a bit of a slap in the face to snap me out of just about everything you said: the need to regulate my own revelation into a rule so that I can measure myself against others and climb right on up my ladder. Wow. I’ll be pondering this for a while! Thank you.

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