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If you were part of the Multiply Gathering in Austin last month, you may remember an analogy that Francis used to illustrate what happens when we add to the gospel. What he ended up with was the drink pictured blow.

It’s an ugly concoction that’s hard to look at and even harder to drink. It used to be juice, made solely of fruits and vegetables. But simply by adding stuff that we find appealing – whipped cream, chocolate syrup, and Skittles – what began as healthy and refreshing quickly became unappetizing and impure. The juice in the picture to the left is now unrecognizable, if it even qualifies as juice at all.

This is what becomes of the gospel when we try to spice it up with our own “words of eloquent wisdom.” 1 Corinthians 1:17 tells us that when we do this, we can actually empty the cross of its power. That’s why, in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Paul resolved to preach nothing but the simple gospel: Jesus’ death on the cross.

The death of Jesus hardly seems appealing to fleshly eyes. In fact, reading 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 makes it clear that, like a child who hates healthy vegetable juice, the lost will naturally see our gospel message as foolishness. So it’s okay if preaching it makes us feel uncomfortable. But we must preach it. And though people may like Skittles, throwing some in a glass of vegetable juice actually ruins the once healthy and refreshing drink. Likewise, adding to the gospel in an attempt to make the cross more appealing actually serves to empty the cross of its inherent power. For we know that this gospel, and this gospel alone, is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rm 1:16).

To watch this illustration from the November Gathering, begin listening here at time marker 1:14:33.

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The following is a summary of the main teaching session (Session 1) of the Multiply Gathering 2013 in Austin, Texas. David Platt and Francis Chan spoke alternately in short increments on a variety of biblical passages. Here are some common themes that emerged:

As we move out to make disciples, we have to keep in mind some foundational, yet often-neglected truths. Sharing the gospel is not something we engage in on our own. We don’t have to manufacture anything. God is at work, and according to John 5:17, the Son is working too. And He has sent His Spirit to live in us in order to do the work of spreading the gospel.

In light of the fact that the Spirit lives in us, we ought to expect that our lives would be different from unbelievers, that we would manifest things that we can’t produce on our own. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive in you. He involves us in His mission not because He needs us, but because He loves us.

As we proclaim the message of the gospel, one of the temptations we face is to add to the gospel. This may seem like a good idea, but Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:17 that adding to the word of the cross is actually to empty the cross of its power. God has chosen to use the foolish and weak. We simply, speak, obey, and trust in Him.

One comforting thought as we move out to make disciples is the reality that God is already at work in people’s lives. We ought to trust that as we seek to engage people. However, there will be rejection. But when we are rejected, we ought not be discouraged. This is expected; we’re not failures. A failure is the person who doesn’t speak the gospel, not the person who speaks and is rejected. Like Isaiah in Isaiah 6, we may be called to a work where there is only rejection. Like Amos, we ought to be in awe that we would be used to speak God’s Word to others. Therefore, we should not be discouraged when we are told not to speak. We didn’t come up with this in the first place.

Picture people you know who are unsaved and trust that God is at work in some of their lives. Trust that He has put you in their life. And He wants some of them to come to have life in Him. Do not let the Adversary cause you not to believe in God.

Move out toward unbelievers you know while trusting in God’s power.

 

0 Grams Trans FatRecently I saw a bag of potato chips with a bold declaration splashed across the front: “Zero grams of trans fat.” I was glad to know that I wouldn’t be consuming any trans fat, which research has shown is detrimental to my health. But then I flipped the bag over and read the ingredients list, which included things like “yellow #6″ and other artificial colors, and partially hydrogenated oil (which is trans fat, just a small enough amount that they can legally call it “0 grams”). I thought it was incredibly ironic that these chips were being advertised in a way that makes me think they are not harmful yet were really full of empty calories, weird chemicals, and, ironically, trans fat.

It struck me that many Christians flash around their “no trans fat” label, trying to convince everyone they are healthy and good. Yet they have no substantive or healthful elements to their faith. It’s like the Laodiceans, who thought they had everything until Christ told them they were poor and wretched. They were all about declaring, “Look, we have no trans fat. We are wealthy, or we have good families, or we go to church every week.” Obviously, it’s not what you advertise that counts; it’s what you are really made of.

But Paul writes that even if “I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2-3 ESV). Wow. Those are strong and unmistakable words. According to God, we are here to love. Not much else really matters.

From Crazy Love, pp. 93-94

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