Tag Archives: gospel

The light of the gospel

2 Corinthians 4:6  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

How does God reveal Himself to us?  Many have asked this question and many will continue long after we’re gone from this earth, but the answer has been given.  God revealed Himself in the form of Jesus, who walked the earth among men, facing our temptations and yet never giving in to them, living a perfect life in perfect harmony with the Father.  In Christ, the character of God was revealed and lived out.  And in God’s Word, Jesus is revealed to us who never got to walk in His presence on earth.

But to some the gospel is nonsense, they can’t make anything of it.  They’ve been blinded to the power of the gospel as though they’re in darkness.  But to those of us whom God has called, to those of us who have responded, He has shone a light. He has illuminated Jesus in the gospel to show us the glory of God, and He’s done it in our own hearts.

Apart from God working in us, we can’t understand His revelation, we can’t see Jesus for who He is.  But when God gives the light, we can see everything for what it is. His truth is made real, His character is made clear.  Then and only then can we begin to know Him.

Guard what is entrusted

1 Timothy 6:20–21 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.

Each of us has been entrusted with the Gospel.  The Word of God, which is truth, is a target for people who want to deceive with false “knowledge”.  They corrupt the Gospel and call it truth.  They replace sound doctrine with man-made ideas and call it “enlightened”.  In many cases, they include a part-truth, but stop short of the whole truth.  In doing so, they lead many astray.

Timothy, a pastor, was entrusted with leading a church, keeping the hearts and minds of God’s people focused on the Truth.  But we don’t need to be pastors or teachers to feel the same obligation.  You and I are all called to be guardians of the Truth.

This is not a sentry position where we lock up the Gospel and stand guard lest anyone should get ahold of it.  We preserve God’s Word and sound doctrine by spreading it, sharing with all who will hear.  Sometimes for fear of being able to answer those who oppose the Gospel, we keep it quiet.  While it may sometimes be necessary to refute opponents, all we really need to do is spread God’s Word.  Truth will prevail on its own.  Darkness cannot remain where there is light. It’s our job to shine the light (Matthew 5:16).

Pass on the Good News

IS4086RF-00042411-0012 Timothy 2:2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

 

 

 

 

Giving is good for spiritual health. We’ve discussed how not withholding finances and possessions can be a great exercise, but there’s more to be shared than just the tangible things of this life. We have something even greater and it just begs to be shared with others.

The gospel of Jesus Christ, that is, the good news that He lived a perfect life that we could never live, without sin, and paid the ultimate price by dying on a cross to pay for our sins, and that He rose again from the dead and now advocates for us even now on His throne, is not some mysterious secret to be kept. It’s the best story ever to be told and it must be told to all who will hear.

If we’re paying attention and really have our eyes open, we’ll see that there are potential opportunities to share this news all over. Withholding the gospel and keeping it for ourselves is not good for us spiritually. It makes us inwardly focused, which is not the purpose God intended for the gospel. It’s meant to be told, again and again and again.

If you’re flatlining spiritually and aren’t sure what’s wrong, take a self assessment and diagnose whether you’re sharing the Good News with others or keeping it bottled up within. If the answer is the latter, make it a point to ask God for a person to share His story with.

The true Light

John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God

God sent His light into the world in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus was the radiance of the glory of God, the exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1:3), and yet when He ministered here on earth people rejected Him.  Even though He had existed since before time (John 1:1) and created the world (Hebrews 1:2), the people didn’t see Him for what He was and many made the wrong choice by not following the true Light.  They chose darkness.

You and I are given the same choice today – to receive the light, Jesus, or to reject Him.  To those who receive Him, that is not only to believe in His existence but to believe that He brings life through salvation by His death and resurrection, God promises the right to become His own children.

He will bring you into His family if you believe that God became a man and lived a perfect, sinless life, one you and I could never live, and that Jesus died to take the penalty for our sins and He raised back to life so that we can have life.  Do you believe this?  Have you chosen the Light over the darkness?  Now’s your chance.

 

Falling from grace

Galatians 5:1-6 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

What does it mean to “fall from grace”?  We have this impression in our minds that when someone commits a serious sin or gets found out for some secret sin, that all of a sudden grace is gone and the person is left to the wolves, unable to be saved.  But when that person is already saved, when that person has already been forgiven for every sin they’ll ever commit…how can they “fall from grace?”  This is contradictory to the gospel.

I was reading a book earlier today called Jesus + Nothing = Everything (I highly recommend reading it), and one part in particular struck me.  It struck me because I had never thought of things in the terms of the author, but they were no less true.  He pointed out the passage I’ve quoted up above and caused the reader to look at the part where Paul tells the Galatians that some have fallen from grace.  Notice he doesn’t say that they fell from grace because of some heinous sin.  He says they fell from grace because they accepted legalism as a way to salvation.  Legalism is the enemy of grace.  It is literally the WORST enemy of grace.

For those of us who have been redeemed by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, those of us who have saved by grace through faith, we have been set free.  That freedom means we’re not under legalism anymore.  We’re not under the yolk of slavery that legalism brings.  We’re free to obey the law, not oppressed by it.  So when we fail and miss a step, either intentionally or unintentionally, it doesn’t mean that Jesus’ grace doesn’t still cover us.  His grace is sufficient for all our sins, for all time.  No sin can separate us from Him once we’ve already been justified and found not guilty.  He already paid the price for our sin, so we can’t just fall away from His grace because we did something wrong.  No, we can only fall from grace in one way.  If we don’t trust in Him alone for that justification.

When we begin to think that it’s Jesus plus some other act or ritual that gets us to God, we’re not accepting grace, we’re trying to win God’s favor through our actions.  That’s just not the way things work.  He forgives us in one way and it’s through Jesus.  When Christ died, the holy, sinless Son of God took on the sin of the whole world and bore the punishment for us all.  In exchange, when we believe in Him for our salvation, we gain His righteousness, the perfect standing before God that only someone who has lived a perfect life can every receive.  Because He already won the victory, we don’t have to worry about losing His grace.

God’s grace is powerful.  It’s so powerful that once we’ve received it, we’re set free in a way that nothing else could achieve.  His grace is enough.  We don’t have to add to it.  We’re not only saved by His grace, He continually works on us through His grace (sanctification) and ultimately brings us to Himself through grace.  We can depend on that, we don’t need to depend on ourselves to earn standing with God.

New Law or Gospel Freedom?

Colossians 2:20-23 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”  (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

What is Christianity all about?  Have we vowed to follow Christ only to replace the Old Testament law with new law?  Is this new life just about more rule-following?  Observing some of today’s churches, you would think so!  Sermons so often focus on behavior modification or bettering the life of the Christian through specific actions. We trade in the true power of the gospel for the belief that being a good Christian means listening to the right music, wearing the right T-shirts, not swearing or drinking, and being “nice.” Congregants lack the joy of Christ because they fail to keep up with all of the things they are “supposed” to do.  Moralistic, therapeutic deism fails to deliver.

The truth is that no formula for behavior modification will ever work because the root of sin is in our hearts.  No amount of keeping up with strict law or disciplines or rituals will keep us from being what we are: fallen and sinful.  Religion seeks to justify the believer through their actions. True justification comes from Christ (Romans 4:25). Only He can liberate us from sin.

It can make us feel good for a while to try to earn our own merit, but in the end we will always fall short (Romans 3:23). We’ll never be good enough, do enough, deprive ourselves enough to be free from sin. If we fully rely on Jesus it means we trust that His sacrifice was good enough, that we don’t need to be under the law in order to receive forgiveness from God for our transgressions, that He died once, and for all (Hebrews 7:27-28).  Nothing we could ever do could make Him love us more.  And nothing we fail to do could ever make Him love us less.

 

Awe: What God has done

Psalm 103:1-5  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Even if God had never done a single thing for you, He’d be worthy of your praise. Just His characteristics alone are something that brings us to a place of awe. But He has done so much for you and for me that we can’t neglect to think about those things and stand in wonder.

Maybe you’re racking your brain, thinking, “What has God done for me?” If you have to ask, it’s a good indication that you’ve lost your awe for Him. Think back into the past, look at where you are in the present. Is your heart beating? Are your lungs breathing in air? That, in and of itself, is an amazing thing. There’s so much more though.

His love for you knows no bounds. The Creator of all things provided a plan for your redemption, rescue from your ultimate demise, and a way to adoption into His very own family. He sacrificed the greatest treasure in all of heaven, His own Son, for your sake, that you might be in a right relationship with Him. Think on that. Mediate on that. How do you feel about it?

When we lose our awe for the Lord’s greatness, it’s worth looking back and taking stock of all the things He’s done, not the least of which is the provision of salvation for our souls. He refreshes, comforts, guides, loves, and shows limitless grace. How can we not be amazed when our eyes are open to such things?

If you’ve lost your awe, pray. Admit to Him that you need to regain that sense of awe and ask Him to reveal himself. That’s a prayer that never goes unanswered. Search the Scriptures. Look at all He’s done for all of humanity. He is truly awesome.

What are some things you can share from your own life experience that have you in awe of God?

Christ our Advocate

1 John 2:1-6   My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

If we claim to be Christians, there ought to be something to show for it.  If we aren’t walking a true Christian walk, obeying God, growing to be more like Christ, loving others; then we aren’t fooling anyone.  If we love God, we’ll follow Him in everything we do.

All that said, we can try to obey in all things, but we will fail at times.  We can’t be perfect, even though we should try to walk as closely to God as possible, with the help of the Holy Spirit.  We’ll fail, but the true test is whether or not we admit to wrongdoing and ask forgiveness.  If we say we don’t sin, again no one is fooled.  We have to have a heart that’s humble enough to confess that we’ve sinned.  This is what we’re called to as followers of Christ.

The best part is that we, as Christians, don’t receive God’s wrath for our sins, but we get forgiveness.  Jesus already died in our place, He already took on our sins so that we don’t have to suffer the consequences.  He made a way so that we have no reason to hold onto our sins as a secret and not admit to them.  If we’ll just confess them, He’s faithful and just to forgive us (1 John 1:9).  Jesus stands in the gap, advocating on our behalf, making our case.  This isn’t just a message for seekers of truth; the gospel is for Christians too.

Stand on the gospel of peace

Ephesians 6:15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.

Over and over again, when the Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians about battling the enemy, he uses the word “stand.” Since the part of the body that we stand on is our feet, it’s best to pay attention to what he has to say about the armor of God that goes there.

What do you stand on in your Christian faith? Is it your church attendance? Your heritage of having a Christian family? The amount of Scriptures you’ve memorized? Maybe even your good deeds? These things are all good, but they’re not the foundation of following Christ and they’re not going to defeat Satan’s attacks.

There is one main thing around which everything else is revolves, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth of His death, burial, and resurrection is what we stand on. It’s what gives us peace and it’s what prepares us to fight off attacks. Stand firm on the gospel.

The Resurrection

Mark 16:1-8  1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Are you looking for Jesus?  Does it seem to be a lost cause; a search that will never produce any results?  Maybe you’re looking in the wrong place.  Jesus isn’t in the tomb.  He is risen.

Sometimes we have a tendency to make up our own theology, our own doctrine that we think fits our beliefs better than what the Bible actually says.  We make up traits for Jesus that were never true of Him.  We create our own false Jesus.  But the power of the gospel to save lies in the truth of who Jesus Christ really is and what He really did.

It’s hard to swallow, the fact that God came down to earth in the form of a human man and that He lived a perfect life.  It’s harder still to believe that He would sacrifice His own life in place of ours so that we can be reconciled to God.  Hardest of all to grasp is the idea that He rose again from the dead.  That He lives even still today, reigning over all things.  But that’s our hope.  Without it we have nothing.

The hope you and I have that we can one day be with God through resurrection is the fact that Jesus was resurrected from the dead.  If our Savior is dead, then we’re doomed.  But if our Savior lives, then we too can live on forever.  Since He DOES live, we have hope that we can cling to.  Jesus’ resurrection is a truth that changes everything.