“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. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.'” -Romans 1:16-17
In the past 6 months I have been blessed to be present for some very touching and undeniable acts of God’s pursuit and salvation. While I’ve been involved in ministry for some time, these experiences have been rather new for me and have affected my heart and mind greatly.
To be present and involved in the process of God wooing the heart of a budding believer is perhaps one of life’s greatest blessings. Not only can we rejoice in the addition of a new-found sibling in Christ, but we are also reminded with renewed understanding of the way God pursued our stubborn hearts through His love and adopted us as His own.
The observation of these things has, if anything, solidified in my heart the importance of the Gospel. Not simply for the unbeliever, but for the continued growth of those who are already God’s children. It has taught me that the Gospel is not something that guides us through salvation and is then to be left behind like training wheels. We never outgrow the Gospel. Its truths are the foundation of every aspect of the Christian life and there is power in submersing our every step in its reality.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GOSPEL
God has permeated the entire Bible with this theme, from Genesis to Revelation. When we look back on the directions God gave to Israel, the rituals He gave them to follow, they all point to His work of salvation through Christ. The Gospel is what ties the Old Testament to the New and through it we see the clearest picture of the heart of God.
The truth of the Gospel is steadfast, relevant to every generation. It does not need our help or our manipulation to fit the current culture. There is no part of it that can be downplayed or removed for any reason. We ought to labor to proclaim its truth clearly and unaltered, knowing full well that its power to save rests wholly in God and not in our ability to “sell the message”.
If our hearts are not changed by the Gospel then we do not understand it. Being a Christian is not a moralistic pursuit motivated by self-promotion, self-help, or self-preservation. It is not a desire for Christ fueled simply by the goal of feeling good about ourselves or escaping Hell. If our relationship to Christ is fueled by anything other than the Gospel, we do not understand what it means to be a Christian.
FINDING STRENGTH IN THE GOSPEL
Christians often speak of finding strength in God and in His Word, but more often than not it comes off in a very mystic way. As if God is dropping down from Heaven this little gift-wrapped box of strength to be immediately applied in a simple and easy fashion. As a result, many of us are left to wonder if perhaps we aren’t “spiritual enough” or “good enough” to receive such a prize, because in a season where we are depleted of our own strength we are struggling to find strength in God.
But while God is capable of equipping us with immediate strength to endure the hardships before us, He most commonly strengthens us through the understanding of His Word. This is especially true in areas of temptation and spiritual growth.
We can follow our step by step programs and fulfill our weekly spiritual checklist, but without the fuel of the Gospel we will only be as strong as our own self control and self discipline. Why? Because the knowledge of what God has done for us is where we find the motivation and understanding to submit our lives to Him. It is the very foundation of every aspect of what it is to be a Christian and the building blocks for every aspect of sanctification. The Gospel is our fuel and without it our own attempts at religious practice are worthless.
LIVING IN THE GOSPEL
If there is one thing you will devote your time to studying, let it be the Gospel. Start each day by remembering its truths. Do not allow yourself to leave it behind as a simple memoir of your Christian re-birth. Instead, awake each morning preaching the Gospel to your own heart. Dwell continually on the beauty and wonder of God’s grace, the sacrifice of His Son, and the hopelessness we were rescued from through His salvation. Every aspect of living our lives for Christ ought to flow back to the reality of what Christ has done for us.
So if you’re seeking strength in Christ, start with the Gospel. If you’re seeking peace in Christ, start with the Gospel. If you’re seeking purpose in Christ, start with the Gospel. It is the foundation of our very Christian identity.
Wondering what the practical application of the Gospel to our daily Christian lives really looks like? Keep an eye out on the blog for a follow up post that tackles that very topic.