I believe more in the gospel today than I did on Friday for at least two reasons.
The first is a conversation I had with a godly Christian single woman who shared with me a little about what God was doing in her life. She purchased a home along with a family from her church. I saw how this woman interacted so lovingly with the children in their household. It would be a daunting thing for many people to become intertwined with the lives of friends in such an everyday way. They do life together. They go to church together. They are in community group together. They have made a financial investment in their home together. They see each other at their best and worst. They work out conflict together. I imagine that this type of arrangement would have its share of complications, but rather than running away at the first sign of difficulty, they are doing the messy work of real relationship together. They are living as the family of God. It was a beautiful thing to see the gospel at work.
Another reason why I believe the gospel more today than I did on Friday was because I heard the testimony of a sweet friend who has gone through one of the greatest periods of trial in life in the last couple years. Her child was the victim of a violent crime. She endured the illness of her child, experienced the tarnishing of her reputation, suffered great financial troubles, and was abandoned by some of her closest friends in her greatest hour of need. She has felt intense loneliness, anxiety, fear, depression, and even despair. As she shared this weekend what God was doing in her life, she unwaveringly stated that she would not exchange any of the suffering she endured because of what God did through it—He gave her a greater glimpse of His beauty and the fullness of His sufficiency for her. It made me think—what a worthy God we serve!! He is worthy of losing it all! The joy of knowing the Living God is worth any heartache that this life can bring.
I have been listening to John Piper’s sermon series on the book of Romans from http://www.desiringgod.org/. The sermon I listened to most recently was from this passage: Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” In the sermon, Piper points out that the gospel is not just the power to save non-Christians. It is the power to save believers!!
The gospel is my only hope.
The gospel is Jesus.
The gospel was not just something I needed to become a Christian. I will always need the gospel. Certainly, the gospel is that Jesus Christ came to save me, a sinner doomed to destruction by her own willful rebellion. Yes, the gospel is that Jesus took the death penalty for me, and His death bought my freedom. However, none of this would be good news, except that Jesus’ death enables me to have real and unfettered relationship with Him—Perfect God! Not only is it my only hope for salvation from hell, it is also my only hope for being reconciled to the Living God!
The gospel is the good news that I get to be with Him! The more I learn about Jesus, the more I want to know Him and be in relationship with Him—there is nothing else that brings me more joy and is worth losing everything.
Yet our kind and gracious God also wants Christians to live like we believe in the power of the gospel to forgive, forbear, redeem, transform, and unite us in Christ in all areas of our life. He delights in enabling us to reflect the beauty of His gospel in our lives. Accordingly, He is glorified in enabling us to demonstrate scandalous love to those who hurt us (like He did for us). He is glorified in enabling us to demonstrate humility and sacrifice (like He did for us). He is glorified in enabling us to have sincere and enduring love for others (like He has always had for us). He is glorified in enabling us to grow in righteousness (as He has always been righteous). He is glorified in enabling us to experience inexpressible joy in Him (as He has always experienced within the beautiful fellowship of the Trinity). Do we believe that He can and will do these things in our lives? Do we believe that the gospel works?
Here is the gospel in Ephesians 1:
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
In this passage of Scripture, I am struck by the good news that:
1) Our God can (and did) save, redeem, and mightily use a man like Paul who was murderous and hateful prior to meeting Christ. He does this same redeeming work in all of us Christians who, apart from Him, all deserve judgment and condemnation for our sin, but who are met with grace and peace instead.
2) Our God makes us faithful, which is something we could not do apart from Him.
3) Our God graciously enables us. In Christ, we have every spiritual blessing. We do not lack for anything we need.
4) Our God chose us to be His before the foundation of the world!
5) Our God chose us to be holy and blameless—we will never face judgment for our sins because Jesus did for us. We are being set free from our sin daily, and one day we will be completely free!
6) In love, He predestined us for adoption through Jesus. The God of the Universe loves us—His prodigal creation! He sacrificed His Only Begotten Perfect Son Jesus so that we who were not begotten could be His children too. He did this in love.
7) The Almighty God is glorified in extending grace! How fortunate for me, because I need His grace!
8) In Jesus, we have redemption through His blood. Jesus’ perfect and willing sacrifice on our behalf won us back from Hell. The costly price of the cross bought our ransom. Jesus' blood continues to redeem us until we are fully redeemed and with Him forever.
9) In Him, we have the forgiveness of our sins. He does not hold our sins against us. He does not unjustly overlook sin—but justice has already been paid for our sin by what Jesus endured. We are forgiven completely by trusting in Jesus!
10) He has lavished His grace upon us. He gives us the grace we desperately need in every moment of our lives to live as He calls us to live. We are not lacking.
11) He works all things according to the purpose of His will. He is in control. He is all wise and all insightful.
12) He is making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ. He is not leaving us in the dark. He is revealing Himself to us daily, and it causes us to praise Him!
13) He has a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth in Jesus. Our God is a God of reconciliation and redemption! By Him and for Him all things were created.
14) We have an inheritance in Christ. Even though we are His prodigal creation, He has given us an inheritance in Christ. Our inheritance is to be with Him, unhindered by any separation!
15) God enables us to live in faith and love. He is glorified in our faith and love.
16) We get to be to the praise of His glory! He is glorified in the redemptive work He does in us! He is glorified in our faith and love, and He enables it. We get to be redeemed and He is glorified. Others get to see how marvelous He is, and so that they can come to Him too. What a deal!
17) We were sealed with the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance. Although we are not physically with God right now, His Spirit lives within Christians. His Spirit guides us in truth. His Spirit produces sincere and supernatural fruit in us, and without the Spirit’s power, we could not experience fruit. The Spirit is able to do what our flesh cannot, and for this we know that our inheritance is guaranteed!
18) We were called to hope! There is such hope in knowing that we have been redeemed, we am being redeemed right now, and we will experience full redemption one day so that we can experience unfettered relationship with the Living God.
19) The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us! What we cannot do in our flesh, the Spirit who raised Jesus is more than able!
20) Jesus is Lord! He reigns and rules completely.
21) The church is the Body of Christ—the fullness of Christ who fills all in all. Jesus paid the costly penalty to redeem the Church. The Church is called Jesus’ own Body. The Church is not a building, gathering, club, etc. The Church is the fellowship of those whom Christ has won to Himself. The Church is precious to our God, and ought to be precious to us as the very Body of our Dear Lord, the fullness of Him who fills all and all!
Wow, what a God!
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