"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « A Meditation on 2 Tim. 2:10 | Main | Bottom Up Vs. Top Down Theology »

    How has the Gospel affected you today? by Pastor John Samson

    Do you live in the good of the Gospel? If so, how exactly does the Gospel affect you each day? How does it affect your relationships? How does the Gospel affect the way you do business? How does the Gospel affect your finances or your emotional well being? Can people tell that the Gospel is shaping your conduct?

    I recently had the privilege of hearing Pastor Mike Bullmore, of Crossway Community Church, Kenosha, Wisconsin teach on this theme at a seminar. He was making the observation that there if often times a huge gap between the Gospel itself and the way Christians live their daily lives. People don't see the relevance of the Gospel in their everyday affairs. In this regard, he said "a local church is healthy to the degree that: (1) its pastor-teachers are able to accurately, effectively, and broadly bring the gospel to bear in the real lives of their people; and (2) its people have a deep personal understanding of and appreciation for the gospel, so as to be able to live in the good of the gospel daily." That's a profound statement and one with which I wholeheartedly agree. The Gospel is not merely something we believe, but something that should affect our behavior.

    Pastor Bullmore also gave this insightful illustration, which I'd like to share with you here on the blog today: "Imagine three concentric circles. In the center is the gospel itself, perhaps best represented by the words of 1 Cor. 15:3 – “Christ died for our sins.” This simple phrase speaks of the reality of our sin, the necessity of divine punishment, and the wonderful provision of salvation from divine wrath by God in Christ. Paul speaks of this “good news” as the matter of “first importance”, and we know well the priority he gives this message in his preaching and writing. It is central. But in order for it to have a functional centrality it must be connected to areas where people live their lives."

    He went on: "This brings us to our second circle, gospel truths. These are specific, concrete doctrinal implications of the gospel; or, as Paul puts it, “doctrine that conforms to (i.e., takes its shape from) the glorious gospel” (1 Tim. 1:10-11). These gospel truths bring the gospel to bear particularly on the mind; they are useful in renewing the mind so that our thinking is more and more shaped by the truth of the gospel. As we might expect, the book of Romans is especially saturated with these gospel truths. Let me give three examples:

    (1) In Romans 5:1 Paul states, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Notice the logic of the verse. Something follows from the essential truth of the gospel. Our having peace with God is not the gospel itself, but is a powerful implication of the gospel—a “gospel truth”. And understanding this gospel truth is part of conforming one’s thinking to the glorious Gospel.

    (2) In Romans 8:1 we read, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Again, notice the argument. Paul is not here presenting the gospel itself but something that is true “now” because of the gospel. But the implication is stunning! When fully comprehended by a believer it will revolutionize their mental world and the gospel will function powerfully for them.

    (3) Romans 8:32 is a favorite. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things.” Notice those words “also” and “along with him.” They speak of something that grows out of the gospel. When people see the connection between the truth of the gospel itself (“He did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all”) and this gospel truth concerning God’s gracious provision of all that we need for our sanctification (cf. vv. 28-29), the gospel will function for the strengthening of their daily trust in God’s provision.

    But not only is the gospel to shape our thinking, there are massive behavioral implications of the gospel as well. That's the third and outermost circle: Gospel Implications. The gospel is not only to renew our minds, but to inform our conduct too. The Scriptures provide many examples of this gospel informed living. In Gal. 2:14 Paul rebukes Peter for conduct that was “not in line with the truth of the Gospel” and in Phil 1:27 he urges believers to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.” In other words, one of the ways the gospel must function is by informing specific behaviors. Thus, we should read our Bibles with an eye toward detecting these connections. So, for example, when Paul appeals to the Corinthians to “flee from sexual immorality” he explicitly bases his appeal on the gospel — “you are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:18-20). When he urges forgiveness he explicitly references the gospel as both motivation and model (Eph 4:32). When he tells husbands to love their wives he does so by linking his exhortation directly to the gospel (Eph 5:25). When he calls the Corinthians to an ongoing generosity he explicitly reminds them of God’s generosity in the gospel (2 Cor. 8:7,9; 9:12-13, 15). Many more examples could be given. Ultimately, all Christian behavior should flow out of the gospel; while working hard to avoid triteness, connections should be made to every area of life."

    I believe that the Scriptures teach us clearly that the Gospel is not merely something non-Christians desperately need, but something every Christian needs to hear repeatedly. It should be a part of every Christian sermon, book, pamphlet or article. Whether the subject matter concerns growing in godliness, prayer, the life of faith, walking in love, stewardship over finances, marriage and the family, or control of the tongue - name the topic - the Gospel should always be center stage. Many “practical” “Christian” messages actually leave the Gospel out, ridding us of the very power that will make its truths work in our lives. But its not at all practical and not at all Christian without the Gospel. Any sermon can only be successfully applied when we are in vital, living union with Christ on the basis of the Gospel. Therefore, as believers, we should be very eager to be shown how the Gospel applies to the subject at hand. We should read each page of the Scriptures through the lens of the Gospel, and thus avoid legalism on the one hand, or (antinomianism) the idea that God is not at all interested in our obedience, on the other. We need to preach the Gospel to ourselves everyday, for it lies at the very center of the Christian life. Applying the Gospel to every area of our lives is the way to experience God’s intended victory and blessing. If we are living below the level of our inheritance in Christ, God asks us, “what is it about the Gospel do you not understand?”

    In concluding the presentation, Pastor Bullmore exhorted us by saying, "One of the greatest challenges and most important tasks of the pastor-teacher is to clearly show these connections so that people can specifically and intelligently bring the gospel to bear on both their thinking and conduct. Thus the gospel becomes functionally central to the individual Christian and to the local church."

    Connecting the dots from the Gospel to our daily lives is perhaps the most urgent task we have as ministers of God's word. That's one of reasons that this blog exists. I urge you to join me in seeking to drive home the implications of our glorious Gospel into our personal lives, and then to help others see the difference Christ and His Gospel makes - all for the glory of God.

    Posted by John Samson on April 4, 2006 12:29 PM

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