I came across this quote while reading the other day: The gospel is as necessary to our sanctification as it was to our initial justification. (Counsel from the Cross, Fitzpatrick and Johnson, p. 116) Do you believe that? Over the past year, God’s Spirit has been convincing me over and over again of the importance of this concept.
All too often we look at the gospel one way – as something that is in the past. We look at the gospel as the good news we believed when we became Christians. We look back and say, “there was a day when I trusted in the good news that Jesus Christ died for my sins, offering me forgiveness, reconciliation with God and an eternal home in heaven.” We see it as something vital, but something that happened when we first believed and were justified or made legally righteous in God’s sight.
The problem with that view of the gospel is not that it is faulty, rather it is incomplete. The gospel is just as important for our daily walk as Christians as it was when we first believed it. In fact, I am coming to believe strongly that many of the problems believers struggle with – bitterness, emotional insecurity, self-image issues, besetting sins – are there because we do not adequately apply the truths of the gospel to our daily lives.
The gospel reminds us:
1. Of God’s nature. He is aware of our sins and our struggles, as well as the sins and struggles of those we interact with on a daily basis. The gospel tells us that God set in motion a plan to deal with human sins and struggles long before we were ever born. Because of the gospel, we know that God is able to and is committed to overcome evil with good.
2. Of the price God paid to bring salvation. In a deep demonstration of love and commitment to His wayward creation, God sent Jesus to die in our place. Full atonement has been made for our sins. We have been forgiven and cleansed in His sight. God no longer holds our sin against us.
3. That God’s love is not based on our performance, but on the perfect and utterly righteous performance of his Son. By grace, every believer has been gifted with the complete righteousness of Jesus.
4. That our Savior, alive in heaven, gave His life to make us holy and will continue his good work of transformation in our lives. He never forgets us or gives up on us. After all, we are His, bought with a price.
5. That we are more sinful and flawed than we ever dared to believe, and so are all the people we interact with on this earth. No amount of training, education, or protection will change that fact. Only God’s Spirit is able to truly change the human heart.
6. That Jesus died for the sinful people we relate to on a daily basis. Their sins are no more repugnant to God than our own. And even when they irritate us or wrong us, God loves them and Christ died for them as well.
7. That when we struggle against sins – anger, bitterness, self-pity, pride – that our struggle is not in vain. The empty tomb of Jesus Christ assures us that the power of sin is broken and that in Christ, we have new life. We are no longer slaves to sin, but rather freed to live in obedience to Him. God gifts us with daily grace to enable us to live for Him.
8. That we are God’s beloved children, adopted into His eternal family. We are more loved than we could ever imagine. The gospel reminds us that in those times when we doubt God’s love or God’s goodness that God gave up His Son to make us His own. God will never leave us nor forsake us, regardless of how scary, gloomy or difficult the road we travel is.
There is more I could say, but you get the picture. There is not a sin, a trouble, or a relationship difficulty that we face on this earth as believers that the gospel cannot or does not address in some way. So what is the gospel to you? What you believed way back when that has no bearing on your present life? Or the daily food for your soul that can captivate your heart and empower you to walk faithfully with God?