The gospel is everything. I don’t just say that because its what Christians are supposed to say. I say it cause it is everything.
I’ve been saved for 22 years now and for 22 years the gospel was a one-time event in my life but a lifetime truth that I talked about. And therein lies the problem: “just talked about.”
You see I am learning to believe constantly what it means to live a “gospel driven life.” I know that biblically the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God that saved me from the penalty of my sin, is presently saving me from the power of sin in my life, and will save me from the presence of sin when my faith becomes sight when I behold Jesus in my resurrected body.
But the gospel didn’t drive my life. 22 years of being saved yet 22 years of trying to be perfected in the flesh as I trudged on in my walk with Jesus, trying to be like Him, trying to please Him. I was kinda like the church in Galatia that Paul told, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:2, 3 ESV)
But there was little victory, little substantial growth, little joy. And then the truth hit me. The gospel matters daily to me. The truth of what Christ did on the cross hit me, and the implications of the gospel began to transform my life.
Ephesians (which we will be studying in January at CityLights) begins with Paul telling us what Christ has done, who we are now, and who we used to be. In it, we see that if we are believers, it is because God chose us, before the foundations of the world, based on nothing we’ve done, to save us and be presented to Him as holy and blameless, which can only be accomplished through Jesus perfect life and sufficient sacrifice on the cross applied to me, all done for the sake of His glory. But not only is God in the business of saving sinners whom he has called, he also is in the business of redeeming this whole earth and all creation to himself. As Paul said, “making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:9, 10 ESV)
The gospel is not just about me. This earth is not just about me. All God does is for Himself. He wants to unite all things to Him, unite a people He has called to Him, and restore all of earth. But why? Cause it shows us who He is. God wants us to see, through creation, through the incarnation, through the crucifixion, through the resurrection, His glorious power and the riches of His grace.
As the truths of Ephesians began to grip my heart, I wondered, “Well I’m saved, I’m redeemed, I’m adopted as His son, I’m sealed with the Spirit. So why do I keep fighting sin?”
And again, I was smacked with truth. Who am I in Christ is the reason I fight sin. When Paul gives instructions to husbands, wives, and children in Ephesians, He does so under the foundation of the gospel: I’m His child, he chose me in love, and therefore I should WANT to obey! Love your wives as Christ loved His church and gave Himself up – Gospel! Be unified because you were called to one hope – Gospel! Be kind and forgiving, as Christ forgave you – Gospel! Paul says in Romans I’m free, I’m no longer a slave to sin, there’s no condemnation. And then he gets to the crucial Romans 12:1-2: I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1, 2 ESV) Paul’s appeal is based on all he just said: the gospel. It’s everywhere. Peter says “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16 ESV)
As long as I’m in this earthly body, having been saved from the penalty of my sin, I’m still in the process of being saved from the power of sin in my daily life. However, I don’t have to fight sin to earn anything that I don’t already have in Christ. The basis of my pursuing holiness is not to earn God’s favor; it’s because who I am. The motivation to obey Jesus and be holy is not to earn God’s favor or being guilty; the motivation is because of God’s favor and being free.
It’s the gospel of Jesus Christ, His plan to show the world who He is, His plan to reconcile sinners as I to Himself to show Himself a loving and gracious Father, His plan to adopt me as His son to the praise of His glorious grace, His plan to restore all of the creation that already declares His glory and proclaim the work of His hand, His plan to allow me to be His workmanship created in Him to do works He’s given me, His plan to author and perfect my faith daily in Him to reveal Himself as faithful and true, and His plan for me to be a mirror to reflect Him so that He gets glorified and magnified by His chosen vessels, that motivates me to continue daily following Him.
We as Christians make walking with Jesus so complicated. We make life about us. We make life about rules and regulations. But I’m here to say that when we realize who He is, what He’s doing, what He’s accomplishing, and what this world is about, it’s liberating and freeing to just love the God who gave the gift of the gospel just so I can experience His worth and give Him glory.
I’m striving to live a gospel driven life. What’s driving your life?