In Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, there are two principle definitions for the word locus.1 The second of which is:
b : a center of activity, attention, or concentration
I start with this simple definition in order to clarify today’s Gospel focus. The Gospel’s “center of activity, attention, or concentration” is God’s gracious act of redemption in Jesus. That is where we must constantly, consistently, and courageously put the emphasis.
If we ever shift the focus of the Gospel to our ability or inability, we have lost the locus.
If we every try to live up to God’s expectations in such a way as to try and earn what God has freely given, we have lost the locus.
This issue of the Gospel’s locus is vital to our understanding of the Gospel and of our salvation. Let’s start with the Gospel.
The Gospel is the message from God to a lost world. It is a message that declares that God has provided a way of being reconciled to Him. The Gospel is a message that calls all lost sinners to repentance and faith in the finished work of the cross. The Gospel is a message that reminds us that we are unable to overcome the inertia of sin in our lives. And because of this inability, God must intervene and counteract the pull of sin in our lives.
Under no circumstances can we, as those in need of redemption, contribute anything to the salvation process. It is not only impossible, it is unnecessary.
When we think about the Gospel’s locus in relation to the Gospel message this is what we must remember. But there is a second area where must understanding the center of activity or attention. And that area is that of salvation.
Because God is the enactor of redemption, at no point are we involved in the accomplishment of salvation. We are recipients of God’s grace. We are the beneficiaries of God’s manifold gifts of mercy and love.
This does not mean we are passive. We hear the Gospel and we respond with faith, but this is not contributing to the saving. We are called, compelled even, to turn to God. To accept what he is offering us in Jesus. But, none of that adds anything to what God is doing. Because if it ever did, it would shift the locus to us and away from God.
The Gospel’s locus is an important consideration and aspect of the Gospel because it reminds us that God is the one doing the saving. We are not saving ourselves. We are not helping God.
What we do is turn to God and receive what God has said we can now have.