At our church we talk a lot about doctrine, sound theology, right understanding of the message of Scripture and the gospel. My bookshelves are loaded with thick books by very smart theologians about things that are sometimes over my head. This is a good thing, because I don’t want to ever think I’ve fully understood the gospel and am ready to move on to something else.
But sometimes it can be discouraging to read part of a book like Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics and realize how little I know about Jesus’ death compared to others who have gone before me! That’s why this quote, nestled in a chapter that was pretty heady, was so helpful to me:
“The power of the death of Christ is independent of the more or less clear interpretation we can give of it…It is indeed not the doctrine concerning the death of Christ but this death itself that atones for our sins and gives peace to our consciences” (Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. III, p. 382).
Good theology is important, and we must know certain things in order to rightly put our trust in Christ. But thankfully God does not forgive us on a graded curve based on how well we understand the gospel! Christ’s death objectively accomplished our salvation. We’ll spend eternity plumbing the depths of what He has done, but we are not saved by how much we understand about the His death.
So let us read, study, and dig deep in the doctrine of salvation – but let us also praise God we are saved by something that has occurred outside ourselves, the death and resurrection of our Savior!