Today I had the pleasure of buying four new tires for the family minivan. Don’t judge me for the minivan, it is practical! It seems that over time the alignment on the van devolved into “unalignment” and the tread of the tires had unusual, and unsafe wear. Paired with some age-induced cracking, it was clearly time for new tires. Tires with full tread and a corrected alignment.
I now need to wrap the tires in a bow and act surprised when they are what I get for Christmas!
As I sit here thinking about those tires, of course I see some correlation to my Christian life and the things I need to make the trek. Very much like my tires on the minivan, Scripture has given us something key to our journey and the thing that actually brings us all the way home. It has some gnarly tread, meaning it can get us exactly where we need to be with undeniable traction.
Go ahead, guess what it is. Its the gospel! The news of Jesus’ life of obedience in our place, his sacrificial death in our place and his gift of new life in his resurrection. This is the mercy of God laid out, reaching, regenerating and empowering redeemed sinners for life. And it is not only the way of initial salvation, but it it the motive and fuel for our obedience in response to it. We can now live out commands that are pleasing to God because we have been and are being transformed by the gospel through the Spirit. This is awesome.
Every now and again however, I approach a really big hill or a stretch of scorching pavement and I convince myself (partially convinced by other ill-intentioned or ignorant voices) that the gospel as declared just doesn’t have the tread to get me to where I need to be. Sure I can still love it and believe it, but I am going to need an upgrade to make it through this rough patch or just get to the level of blessing I think I deserve. So I change the tires. I keep the gospel as a spare, just in case, and run after all sorts of different treaded tools for life. Better strategy. A detour with less hills. Maybe I am even lured into buying these tires from some hip, skinny-jean-wearing Baby Boomer. Then I rev up the engine and realize these new tires actually have tread that evaporates in mere minutes and they are incapable of getting me to the destination. They are all just new law tires making everything about my ingenuity, ability and sticktoitness.
If I am lucky, someone reminds me of the full and unfading tread of the gospel and I act as if I have uncovered the large gold mine as the hills are conquered and the tires bounce me home.
This is a terribly lame illustration. But friend, the gospel has tread that won’t wear. All through the New Testament, each and every command is empowered by the gospel, each and every promise is wrapped up in the gospel. The glorious good news of Jesus and his grace for you, the broken down, threadbare sinner. The gospel comes with an eternal warranty – there is nothing that can void it, not even user error can take you off the course the grace of God has determined for you. And this gospel, the honking huge tires of the gospel, will bring you all the way home, through the heat, through the bush, through the dessert, through the floods, mud and hills. So kick the tires, go deep into the excellencies of the gospel, and live full knowing this tread sticks forever.