The last observation that I want to make from the Bryan Chapell lecture “Communicating the Gospel In and through Preaching” is summed up in the statement in the title of this blog post: “The Imperatives Are Based on the Indicatives!”
What in the world does that mean!?! There is a theme that runs through the Bible and that theme is the grace of God. Many church people think of the Old Testament was a time of Law and the New Testament is a time of Grace. That is not totally accurate. While the Law was a prominent part of the Old Testament the statement that “the Old Testament was a time of Law” is misleading.
If we are going to see the gospel in all of the scriptures, as is Chapell’s point, we must understand that the Old Testament narratives can ONLY be accurately understood in the context of grace.
Beginning in Egypt (actually before that, but that is where Chapell begins) God did not say, “If you obey Me, I will let you out of Egypt.” That never happened. God delivered the Hebrews out of Egypt. THEN at Mt. Sinai God, declared: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; (Exodus 20:1-2)
and what immediately followed:
- “You shall have no other gods before me.
- “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…..
- You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
- “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exodus 20:3-8)
you know the rest…
It was not, “If you are good enough, I will move and save you.” It was always, “Because of what I have already done for you, I expect you to obey me.”
“What you do is based on who you are and the order is not reversible.” is the way that Chapell puts it.
Listen (with your eyes) to what Chapell says: (there are my notes, not a verbatim transcript)
That message doesn’t wait until the NT. It is NOT obey me and then I will love you. It is I love you; you are my child; be who you are, live according to who you are. That is not just a NT message.
God has provided food for the hungry, strength for the weary and forgiveness for the defiled. He wasn’t waiting until the NT to tell us that. He was waiting for THE FULFILMENT of that in Christ, but it was what he had been telling us all along. Many passages are reflecting the gracious character of God so that when Christ comes, I can understand what this fulfillment is about.
This principle can change everything in your life: the imperative is based on the indicative; what you are to do is based on who you are & the order is not reversible.
Too often we preachers say, “You’d better straighten up so that God will love you.” In that case, the indicative was based on the imperative.
But that’s not the Gospel. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:4-5)
Be what you are: you are already loved; you are already my child; be what you are!
That is the Gospel that permeates ALL of scripture; so that when Christ comes, we understand grace, because it has been echoing all along until its fulfillment in Christ.
That is a message that somehow I didn’t get in the church growing up. I am coming to understand it more and more as an adult. But I am coming to understand it slowly. Old habits die hard.
But that is what we are to preach. We are to bring GOOD News. And we do that by finding the Gospel (the “good news”) in ALL of scripture.
Again, one last time, I cannot encourage you enough to listen to Chapell’s message here.