THE GOSPEL LIFE
Rom.1: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…
Feeling good about yourself is not the gospel. Having a never quit spirit is not the gospel. Meditating upon good things is not the gospel. Striving for excellence is not the gospel. Finding favor in the workplace is not the gospel. Being rich is not the gospel. Having a healthy self image is not the gospel. Being kind to others is not the gospel. Feeding the poor is not the gospel. Letting go of the past is not the gospel. Having an overcoming spirit is not the gospel.
Now a few of those things may be beneficial, but they are not the gospel individually or collectively. The gospel, the good news, is that God the Savior whose name is Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected from the dead. And if you truly believe that with all your heart, then tow things will happen. You will receive eternal life and you also will desire to follow Jesus here and now.
That, and only that, is the gospel.
The church has slowly but surely moved away from the gospel. Even in orthodox churches the gospel is looked upon as the first door that when opened can lead you to bigger and better and more profound truths. That is not only very sad, but it is untrue as well. The everlasting gospel was and is and always will be the exclusive vehicle to eternal life which includes the life we have now upon this earth. It should never be considered an elementary step that can propel us into doctrinal maturity. The gospel is doctrinal maturity, and in fact all our most profound theologies receive their life and meaning from the gospel.
But in today’s ecclesiastical marketplace men have taken the gospel and repacked it to suit their own needs and message. No other Biblical truth has been so mangled and so abused as has the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And when you hear some adjective placed before the word “gospel” you can almost be assured that it is not the true gospel. Phrases like “the social gospel” or “the prosperity gospel” or “the healing Gospel” or even “the full gospel” are not only misleading but they are not the true gospel. But the wicked imaginations of men’s hearts have changed the gospel into a vehicle for earthly success and not the power of God’s blood bought redemption. It is both scandalous as well as blasphemous.
Many slick preachers will use the word gospel and even define it generally in redemptive terms. But when your entire message and ministry is earthly and man centered your gospel presentation is powerless and is little more than a perfunctory genuflect. Men like Joel Osteen or Kenneth Copeland or even men like Rick Warren will mention the word gospel and even give a tepid but acceptable definition of the gospel. But cults also give a general wording of the gospel. When you treat the gospel as an appendage and not the very heart of what it means to be a follower of Jesus then when you speak the gospel it loses its meaning and power.
Many people believe the gospel is feeding the poor and doing good deeds. Those are a result of people being changed by the gospel, but that is not the gospel itself. This isn’t semantics. It is the difference between a false and the true gospel. A person who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel is saved. But that same person could do all sorts of wonderful and humanitarian deeds and still not be saved if he did not receive Christ by believing the gospel. No one can be saved, in fact no one can be helped to be saved, by any amount of human good deeds. And therein lies the gospel. There is only one deed which God requires to grant us eternal life and that one deed was done completely by the Lord Jesus Christ! Halleluiah! What a Savior!
But the Scriptures are very clear. We who have believed the good news of the gospel and are now the children of God through faith in Christ, must live within that good news. The gospel is not some entrance level position upon which we can climb to greater doctrinal heights. This gospel is the cornerstone of our faith because it is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. When we believe the gospel we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work of redemption. Brothers and sisters, it will take a lifetime, and dare I say an eternity, to fully comprehend the depth of Christ and His gospel. People make a clumsy distinction between the gospel of Christ and the gospel of the kingdom. They are one in the same. There is only one gospel. It is the gospel of redemption and the gospel of the kingdom and the gospel of the King!
Every true doctrine we uncover has its roots deep within the gospel of our Lord and Savior. His sufferings and death and resurrection was not a door through we could run and find happiness in the very things which caused His death. No, the gospel is that which should feed us and give us life and hope every day of our lives. He who has moved on from the gospel into the deeper things of God has strayed from that which the Spirit is leading. When the Scriptures declare that the Spirit will lead us into all truth it also states that the truth is in Jesus and even the truth IS Jesus. So if you desire to go deeper in God you must go deeper in the gospel and deeper in Christ.
Anyone can understand the gospel. It is clear and unambiguous and even childlike on some level. But within that simplicity are treasures and mysteries and glorious revelations that elicit a worship that is filled with awe and wonder. Who among us could ever suggest we have completely unraveled the wonders of the cross? Could we ever say that we have fully understood the mysteries of the resurrection? How about the Incarnation itself? You see, we have taken the gospel and treated is with disdain when we suggest it is the key that unlocks greater spiritual treasure. The gospel contains the eternal treasures of Christ and His kingdom.
Here is a man who is digging for a buried treasure. He has a map and he digs to find the many millions he believes is buried here. After digging some twenty feet he finds the chest and upon opening it he finds the many millions he was looking for. But after a short break he walks 100 feet to the west and begins to dig once again. Someone asks him why he is digging now and the man says that the many millions he has found will provide the finances he needs to dig all around. He says there must be more than just this one chest of treasure even though his map only indicates this one place.
And so it is with the modern church. After finding the treasures of eternity through the gospel of Christ we begin digging elsewhere? When you and I were saved by faith in Christ we were presented with all the treasures that can be found in Christ. But initially we only saw the gold coins that lay on top even though we could see there was a great mound of coins underneath. And when we began to search for those coins underneath through the Word of God and the Ministry of the Spirit we began to see other precious coins of truth all of which belonged to that one chest that was first presented to us by grace. And judging by how much we have uncovered and how great a pile of coins remain it will take several lifetimes to get to the bottom of the chest.
But allow me to reveal to you an arresting and breathtaking truth which should completely humble us all. There is no bottom to this chest of truth called Christ.
Phil.1: 26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
We are those who have found life through Christ and His gospel and in that life we still live and move and have our being. The gospel is not some redemptive ticket that gets punched and then we go into another theatre to enjoy another movie. Never! Oh that we would bathe ourselves in the cleansing truths of this everlasting gospel! This is the revelation of the sufferings and death and resurrection through which all who believe can find that which they never sought and never deserved and yet found by His matchless grace. It is that gospel to which we are called to live and breathe. It is through Him and His gospel that we are to beam His light and offer His salt and project His glory in our earthen vessels. The gospel is not some kindergarten story and yet it is! It is not simple and yet it is! It is not for children and yet it is! This is the eternal mystery: That God was manifested in the flesh and died for the sins of the world and resurrected from the dead to make a victorious show in front of all His enemies. And we, who caused His sufferings, are now partakers of His glory through faith in Him and His gospel!
This gospel is our very life! Let us speak it daily! Let us live in its power! Let its truth change our beings and conform us to the Christ in that gospel! Oh let us never minimize the gospel and suggest we have matured beyond it. This gospel is the glory of Almighty God and His Son, and the Spirit roams the earth giving power to its message. We are humbled by this gospel. We are changed by this gospel. This gospel is the message and ministry and life of the church. I beseech all of us to fall in love with Christ and His gospel all over again and fall down in adoration and worship the Christ who humbled Himself for us and paid for all the transgressions we have committed and will commit.
Cling tightly to the gospel. The day is coming and now is when the gospel will be rejected by the craftiness of men and their ecclesiastical empires. Many will even speak the gospel with enticing words of men's wisdom but few will believe it and fewer still will live it. But unto us which believe it is the power of God. And that gospel power will never fade. Let us daily find our life within its glory!