Proclaiming Truth Through the Tears

“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous 
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth. When the righteous cry for help,
the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
(Psalm 34:15–18)

On Monday, March 27, 2023, three 9 year old students and three adult staff of Covenant Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, TN were murdered when an armed assailant entered the school with intent to kill. The female attacker was quickly stopped when Police entered the building using deadly force to prevent further carnage.

Within moments, the blame games were started.

Mainstream news outlets blamed Republican politicians for not doing enough to prevent gun violence, the Church and Christian School for not being more inclusive of the “Trans Community” (the female perpetrator identified as a male), and even the killer’s parents for their alleged rejection of their daughter’s new identity.

Meanwhile, conservative pundits were quick to blame the Democratic party for their lack of initiatives to provide protection in our schools, the LGBTQ+ activists for encouraging a mindset that leads to greater depression and aggression, and even the mainstream media for blaming everyone but the killer.

In each and every time that this kind of violence erupts in our world, we turn on each other, accuse and vilify one another, and even subtly blame the victims… all because we are afraid to say the one thing we know to be true: Sin and Evil are real, and there is a cosmic, spiritual battle raging in the world around us. Since the fall, satan has asserted himself as the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2), and has been working to undo all that God has done. Jesus said, “[The devil] was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). The lies of the left, and the lies of the right, only serve to promote satan’s agenda. When we turn to lies in the midst of tragedy, the only one who wins is the devil.

And so it is that in the midst of evil’s eruptions, the Church must stand for the Truth. Even in our suffering and sorrow, we proclaim the victory over sin and death that has been won for un in Jesus Christ. We declare that there is freedom from the chains of sin, hope in the midst of a dark and fallen world, and security in the arms of our Eternal God. We stand in the revelation that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one may come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). 

Because of this victory we have in Christ, called to bless those who persecute us, and reminded “never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19–21).

This is the hope, the peace, the faith that I hear when Pastor Chad Scruggs, Senior Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA), and father of 9 year old Hallie who was killed on Monday said, “Through tears we trust that she is in the arms of Jesus who will raise her to life once again.” Through tears of pain, sorrow, and unbearable grief, there is still a hope that is rooted in the eternal Truth.

This is the truth that, only months ago, Pastor Scruggs proclaimed as he preached from John 11:35:

The whole time Jesus knew how the whole thing would go down and yet what are the most remarkable things about this story, it always gets me, is that knowing exactly what he’s about to do Jesus sits down and does what? He weeps. Do you see that a strong confidence in the end of the story does not undo or justify the absence of grief in the middle. A mature faith adds its tears to the sadness in our world Jesus says blessed are those who mourn all the while not losing confidence and how that sadness will eventually be overcome in him

If you’re doubting the love of Jesus, you try to work it out through your circumstances. No, you never read your circumstances and then read the Love of Jesus. You read the Love of Jesus towards your circumstances. If you are doubting his love for you, if you are struggling with his authority in the midst of sadness and confusion, let the cross speak to you again. Look there so that you might say confidently, ‘see how he loves me. This is the one man given for me.’

Beloved, let us not do the devil’s bidding today and be divided by lies, but let us stand firm in the truth that is found in Christ alone. In Him we have redemption from our sins, forgiveness with God, hope and security for the future, the Spirit who gives us grace and strength to live for today and the boldness to stand and shine as a light in the midst of darkness.


What is the Gospel?

“Gospel” is an interesting word. Like a lot of words in the Church, it gets used a lot, but I wonder if we know what it means. Churches claim to preach the Gospel, but for some that “Gospel” may be a message of “God loves you so love each other!” with there being no comment on sin and our need for salvation. Others may preach the “Gospel,” and what you get is a message of “God is angry, do better!” with there being no hope for salvation at all. 

Greg Gilbert, in his book, What is the Gospel?, writes, “in order truly to proclaim the gospel, we must carefully explain the death and resurrection of Jesus and the response God requires of sinners. If we say merely that God is redeeming a people and remaking the world, but do not say how he is doing so (through the death and resurrection of Jesus) and how a person can be included in that redemption (through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus), then we have not proclaimed the good news.”

So how can we make sure to get the Gospel right? By definition the Gospel is “good news,” and because the first 4 books of the New Testament are called Gospels, we know it has something to do with Jesus, his life and death and resurrection. But how do we put it all into words?

I think it is helpful to remember that the Gospel is not just the message of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but it is the full story, from beginning to end, of the Bible. The Gospel is the message of humanity in relationship to God, revealing the holy and eternal God who made all things good, man’s fall into sin and death, and God’s faithful, covenanted work to save His beloved from wrath, culminating in the promised incarnation, perfect obedience, atoning death, justifying resurrection and ascension, and awaited return in glory of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is proclaimed in all of this, and must certainly contain elements of this. All of Scripture points to the salvation found in Jesus Christ (Luke 24:27).

So perhaps a good way to summarize the Gospel would be this: God, in order to redeem His people and deliver them from the wrath they deserved for their sin, graciously gave His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who perfectly fulfilled God’s righteous law, died upon the cross to atone for sins, and was raised from the dead to justify all who would believe in Him for eternal life. 

Biblical Summaries of the Gospel

There are some very helpful summaries of the Gospel throughout the scriptures. Here are just a few:

  • Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
  • Ro 4:25 [He] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
  • Ro 5:8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • 2 Co 5:19 …In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
  • 2 Co 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • Ga 3:13–14 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
  • Heb 9:28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
  • 1 Pe 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
  • 1 Pe 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit

Friends, I pray that you may know the Gospel, and know it in its fullest meaning. Rather than just having a knowledge of what it means, I pray that you would know the joy and peace of actually believing the Gospel, that God has brought about the salvation of all who would call upon Him in faith through Jesus Christ!. I pray that you would live in this Gospel. And I pray that we would all become better able to preach this Gospel.


Also Helpful

As I’ve been thinking about this, I came across a couple of very helpful videos:

Voddie Baucham 

A Summary: God in his goodness and mercy sent forth his son… born of a virgin… and Christ died for sin once for all, the just for the unjust, and God imputes our sinfulness on him… and the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, that God would be the just and the justifier of those who place their faith in Jesus Christ… That we would be saved from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and one day, the presence of sin.

John Piper

Piper gives this breakdown. The Gospel is: 1) A plan, 2) An Event, 3) An achievement, 4) An offer, 5) The application, and 6) God.