Rev. George F. Borghardt
The Gospel is hyperbolic. Well, it seems like hyperbole anyway. It's so over the top! It can't be true! It can't be real! It's unbelievable and simple all at the same time. It's too awesome and too good to be true. It's amazing! Because it's all Jesus-y goodness.
In Christ, your sins are forgiven-all of them. There's not a sin that Christ did not die for; there's not a sin that He leaves still on you. All of them-from Adam's sin that you inherited to all the sins that you commit from the moment you were conceived to your very last breath. He has taken them all. He has redeemed you from them all.
You have been given everything as a gift. All that belongs to Jesus belongs to you. You have eternal life. You have heaven. He prepares a place just for you. You are a kingly, royal, holy priest, who sings the praises of the One who brought you out of darkness into His wonderful light.
You don't earn it. You don't deserve it. Jesus gives His Father's entire kingdom away! He just gives it away for free-all of it. Forgiveness, life, salvation-all as a gift. He saves not holy people, but sinners. God reconciles the whole world to Himself in the death of His Son. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!
The world certainly doesn't work that way! You only get what you pay for and nothing is free. The Gospel is just foolishness to the rest of the world! The Gospel is absolutely moronic!
But the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men. God knows that we cannot save ourselves. He knows we can't dig ourselves out of the hell we've earned. We can't think ourselves out of the hell we deserve.
The LORD was working to save us throughout the whole Old Testament. He sent prophets and preachers. He preached through them. He promised salvation. We believed-at first. But then we did our own thing. We silenced all His messengers-beat up and killed His messengers! We didn't want to hear a single word.
So God goes and does something ridiculous: He sends His Son. Jesus is the Lord God Himself. And He is true Man, born of the Virgin Mary. He healed the sick. He preached the Good News that God was going to save us. And we rejected Him, too. We beat Him. We even executed Him on a Cross.
God shows His love in the giving up of His Son. That's real love! He doesn't love like we do, with empty promises. He put His love in our midst and let us nail it to a cross to save us. Jesus was crucified for our sins. And God raised Him from the dead for our forgiveness.
To make your salvation sure, the Lord places the certainty of it outside you in the external Word of the Gospel. He doesn't leave you to look inside yourself or depend on your feelings to see if you really, truly, cross-your-heart believe...or not. You have been saved in the waters of your Baptism. God's Word reminds you, "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." And you are forgiven in the words of Holy Absolution. The sins your pastor forgives really are forgiven. You are fed the very Body and Blood of Jesus. Jesus says in Scripture, "Whoever eats the flesh of the Son of Man and drinks His Blood has life and God will raise Him up on the last Day." His gifts are the certainty of your salvation making everything Gospelly good!
When God has done everything imaginable to save you, you really have to work hard to lose your salvation. You'd have to despise Jesus' forgiveness and love and make everything about yourself. You'd have to seek to save yourself and make everything about you-what you do and don't do, how you feel, and what you are doing for God. You can read about life without Christ and its end in the other articles about the Law in this magazine.
But the Gospel! God wants to deal with you by the Gospel. He wants to be merciful. He wants to forgive you. He wants to give you life that goes on forever. He wants to deal with you, not as you deserve, but as His Son earned for you. So, in Christ, He does.
In Christ, there is no condemnation from God, no Law, no judgment. Christ's Gospel trumps the Law's demands, for Christ is the end of the Law for all who believe. In Christ, your salvation is as sure as Christ's own death and resurrection. In Christ, you are unconquerable. You are saved.
You can't get around it; there's no better way. This is the way you and I are saved: Christ died for the sins of the world. Faith, which is born of the gifts of God, trusts that Christ died, not only for the sins of the world, but specifically for you. You are saved. You are forgiven. You have eternal life.
No hell; you get life. No judgment from God; you are let off, Jesus-free. No condemnation from the Law; now the Law itself has become almost Gospelly! The Law, in Christ, now provides a guide for you to love and serve your neighbor. It drowns your Old Adam and makes you alive to serve others.
It seems like hyperbole. But it's definitely true. You are saved. You will be saved. Things are going to work out for you. They have to-all things are yours in Christ. Your good will be better. Your bad is going to turn out good. Your wins are real wins-eternal wins. Your losses are going to end up as wins in Christ. All things, even death itself, will work out to save you and those around you. That's the unbelievable, hyperbolic, but completely true Gospel.
Rev. George F. Borghardt serves as the senior pastor at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in McHenry, Illinois. He is the president of Higher Things. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.