Perfect Illustration of What Christ Did for Us


See how Doug Wilson’s story of a teacher explains the difference between good advice and good news.

I confess: Navigating through the nature of God at times leaves me feeling detached and remote.

Far off from God.

Granted, you can’t put your finger on infinityEternalitySelf-existence.

These topics at first blush are unbelievably impractical, impersonal, ineffable and intimidating.

No wonder Job once argued that there was no arbitrator between man and God:

In truth I know that this is so; But how can a man be in the right before God? If one wished to dispute with Him, he could not answer Him once in a thousand times. 

It’s at these times when a story like Doug Wilson’s Teacher illustration brings the sheer practicality of God and redemptive history home for me.

The Illustration

In a recent video John Piper shares the illustration in question. It’s an illustration on the difference between good advice and good news.

For those to lazy to  [I sometimes fall into this category], let me summarize the illustration.

Picture a young man before his trigonometry teacher. It’s the first day of class. He’s anxious about passing. She gives him advice on how to succeed: Study hard. Memorize your tables. Do your homework.

He follows her advice. However, at the end of the semester, at the final exam, this young man is hunched over a blank piece of paper.

The teacher passes, notices the blank paper. More good advice looks like this: Relax. Answer the easy questions first. Build off of those. Think harder.

On the other hand, good news look like this: The teacher says, “Scoot over. I’ll take the exam for you.”

That illustration characterizes the gospel. The climax of redemptive history. And it distinguishes between good advice and good news.

The Essential Meaning of the Illustration

It also articulates what’s meant by propitiation, substitutionary atonement, justification by faith alone.

And it reminds of us of the solid ground we stand on. It will be Christ’s righteousness–not our own–that is going to count for us on Judgment day.

In the end, Wilson’s illustrations is an image of the vivid, concrete anchor we have in Christ. The flesh and blood hope we have in the face of an unfathomable, holy God. And the compelling vision that stirs our soul to worship, work for and wonder at him who loved us so much that he sent his only son to die for us.

It grounds us in the spiritual reality that sometimes eludes us. Please share the story.

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