|Calvin, by Titian|
Calvin—Okay, I have summarized Christianity: Total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, perseverance of the saints.
Jesus–Excuse me, I am not sure I understand you.
Calvin–You know, TULIP, what you taught.
Jesus—What I taught? I am sorry, but I don’t understand a word of it.
Calvin, scratching head–Stop joking, Jesus. This is serious. Why, haven’t you seen John Piper, my hyper-follower’s brilliant 221 word summary of Christianity—which is all about you, you know?
God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.
But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.
In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel.
Jesus—I taught all that?
Calvin—Stop it, Jesus. What did you teach then?
Jesus—But why didn’t you read the Gospels, if you wanted to know? Here are 221 words I remember saying,
I came not to call the righteous but sinners; not to judge the world, but to save it.
Repent and believe the good news.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Don’t be afraid. Do not worry about anything at all. Peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.
I teach so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be full.
When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him.
Take and drink; this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.
My Father will give you another counsellor—the Spirit of Truth. He will be with you and in you. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.
Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
Calvin—That’s far too simple. That’s how a blogger would write. But we are theologians, you and I.
Jesus—No, just you. I spoke to be understood.