Wednesday, January 25, 2012

You Know What Happens When You Assume…

“Dear, can you find my face-wash?  It’s in a small bottle with a fuchsia colored lid on the dresser,” my wife lovingly requests.

I hurriedly look through a conglomeration of numerous bottles that I am totally unfamiliar with.  I am only vaguely familiar with fuchsia.  I know it isn’t blue, so I quickly eliminate everything in the blue family.  Same goes with white, black, and maybe green and yellow.  I think it’s in the purple or red family.  So now I’m looking for something in a small bottle---quickly giving up hope.

“I don’t see it in here,” I shout back at her—not a mad shout, mind you, but a you’re-in-the-other-room-so-probably-can’t-hear-me shout.  Perhaps this will cause her to give up hope or give me a much easier bottle to locate. 

“No, I know it’s in there.  It’s in that wire basket”.  She thinks that narrowing my locations will somehow cause me to have girl eyes and understand what fuchsia is and what her face-wash looks like.

I quickly peruse through the previously described basket.  Eliminating several options I’m soon coming to the conclusion that our daughter must have stuck this face-wash in the toilet, or perhaps a stray goat wandered into our bedroom and had lunch, or maybe my wife is just insane and this object simply does not exist.  “It’s really not in here”, I lovingly inform her—and with a voice that lets her know that I’ve looked absolutely everywhere. 

I mean I really know this wire basket.  I’ve searched everywhere up and down, left and right.  It’s really not in here.  I’m going with the goat theory, because it absolutely is NOT in this wire basket. 

My wife gives up hope.  “That’s okay.”  A few minutes later my wife walks into the bedroom, looks into the wire basket, and pulls out her fuchsia lidded face-wash that must have the ability to disappear when gazed upon by desperate men.  (Which by the way is a superpower that I hope my daughter learns). 

“Ohhhhhhhh, that bottle.  Ohhhhhhh that’s what color fuchsia is”. 

That bottle was there the whole time.  I thought I knew the wire basket but I didn’t.  I forgot in my maleness to actually look under other objects.  I was convinced that I had exhausted my search for this fuchsia colored bandit but was quickly exposed by a wife that knew the basket and her face-wash far better than I did. 

The Danger of Assuming

I share this story because there is an ever present danger in assuming the gospel in the same way that I assumed that I had searched everywhere for my wife’s face-wash.  In Hebrews 2:1-3 we read a very sobering warning:

“Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it”.  For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

The “therefore” is there because the author of Hebrews has spent the entire first chapter showing that Christ is far superior to angels.  And as verse 2 says if the message delivered by angels (the law) was reliable and if transgressing it was enough to cause legal action against you then how much worse if we neglect the gospel. 

This warning is the first of five warnings (3:1-4:13, 5:11-6:12, 10:19-39, 12:12-29) that each ascends in strength and urgency.  I believe it is intentional that the author of Hebrews begins his warnings with the subtle-yet-deadly drift of assuming the gospel. 

I take the author of Hebrews admonition to be something similar to this: “Don’t just assume you know that wire basket, that you’ve searched everywhere, that you understand the color fuchsia, or that you even know what girly face-wash looks like.  Dig Man, Dig!  Turn over stuff.  It’s there—right where it was said to be—if you can’t find it there the problem is that you’re dense not that the gospel is bland, unhelpful, or exhausted.” 

Infidelity always starts with the wrong-headed assumption that you’ve exhausted the gospel.  And to this foolishness the author of Hebrews calls us to “pay much closer attention” to the gospel. 

Dig man, dig!  The Spirit within you is eager to spotlight the gospel and leap for joy at the sight of Jesus.  Just keep turning stuff over until the gospel is exposed. 


  1. I don't know how to say this without sounding critical, or stupid or both. But my wanting to know the answer trumps how bad I may sound by asking this. What are you talking about by searching for the gospel? Define the gospel. Is it the general truth of God's word? Or is it what Christ has done on the cross, abolishing sin forever for His Glory, making a way for us by faith in Him? Or both? Too embarrased to say who this is...

  2. Great question and thanks for asking for clarification.
    In Hebrews--and in my article--what is being referred to are the gospel events (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-7) and all of the implications therein. It may be beneficial to read this article as well:

    Fundamentally, what I think happens is that we often assume the gospel--meaning we assume that Christ' death, burial, and resurrection has very little to do with my financial decisions, my marriage questions, my work, etc. We end up compartmentalizing and just assuming that we applied the gospel. But the gospel message (God-Man-Christ-Response) has a far reaching impact on every sphere of life.

    So, when I imply in this article the need to "search for the gospel" what I am saying is--digging to come to a more profound understanding/experience of who I am as a sinner, who Christ is, who I am in Christ, etc.

    Hope this helps rather than muddies...I'd welcome any follow up questions, it will probably help me to be more clear. Thanks for the sharpening.

  3. Just to clarify, I am not ashamed of the gospel. I'm ashamed of myself for not knowing how to apply it like you have described. Maybe it is growing up in church where in sermons the gospel was "applied" at the end. It was called an invitation. I am being totally honest here, plenty of times I thought - ok, I'm pretty sure I'm saved. I've got this. I can just pray for the unsaved that might be hearing this that God would open their heart. What you're saying is that the invitation stands every day. That the gospel is still relevant every day, in every situation. So how does this work? If I am angry at my spouse for not paying a bill on time, or my boss is putting pressure on me, or if I don't feel like getting out of bed in the morning. I usually pray, Help me Lord. How do I apply the gospel to everyday life in a practical way?

  4. I think your experience is very common. And far too often it is my own as well. One resource that tremendously helped me with this very thing is a little book called How People Change by Paul Tripp and Timothy Lane. Redemption by Mike Wilkerson is pretty helpful too.

    Your question is really asking, "how do I live the Christian life". That answer is varied I think with each situation--but I think you are asking the right question. You know that the answer to anger, pressure from bosses, and depression is found in Christ. Now just to dig!

    Let's take the anger with your spouse for not paying a bill on time. What's really going on here in your heart? Why are you responding in anger? Is the anger okay? Are you responding sinfully? What is your heart desiring that it's not receiving? Is there some sort of idol here? Pending on your answers to these questions then I'd take a look at Christ. Consider the attributes of God. He has everything you need. Your fullness and your identity is found totally in Him. So reflect on Christ--his character, His work, etc. And then repent of any place where God has revealed sin and believe in Christ to give change.

    I know that's a little vague--but without really specific examples or an actual conversation it's a little tough to be much more specific.

    Great questions though. Thanks again for the sharpening.

  5. Ok, so you said - "You know that the answer to... is found in Christ" So is Christ the Gospel? Is Christ defined by His work on the Cross? My question is more how do I apply the gospel to my every day life. I pray, I read the bible, I know that I have a personal relationship with Christ. Why the gospel? You said consider His character, His work. There was much more to Christ's life than what He did on the cross. Maybe my question is not why the gospel but why the cross? Your answers keep pushing me to more questions.



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