The Gospel is the good news of the birth, sinless life, sacrificial death, glorious resurrection, and triumphant ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ took our place on the cross, received God’s judgment and wrath, and paid our sin debt fully and completely, placing us under the banner of His finished work. When this truth is accepted by faith, the person believing it is saved. But the Gospel doesn’t end there. The Gospel is not only the truth that unbelievers need to believe to be saved; the Gospel is the truth that Christians need to believe in order to experience being saved daily. The Gospel is the gift that keeps on giving!
Far too many in the church today see the Gospel only as the door leading into the Christian life. They correctly see the Gospel as necessary in the life of the unbelieving sinner in order to get them saved; but they fail to recognize the need for the Gospel in the life of the believing sinner in order to get them sanctified. The Gospel is not only the door leading into the life of faith, it is the floor upon which that life is to be built. The good news of the Gospel not only saves the unbeliever from the penalty of sin (justification), it saves the believer from the power of sin (sanctification). The Gospel is the gift that keeps on giving!
Those who only see the Gospel as the means of salvation inevitably look to their good works as the evidence of their continued right standing before God. They are forever running on the performance treadmill, trying to gain God’s favor and blessing (and trying to avoid His displeasure) by their own spiritual sweat. But this is not for you!
My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our personal relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well—whatever “well” is in our opinion—then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works rather than by grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the “sweat” of our own performance.
Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to “try harder.” We seem to believe success in the Christian life (however we define success) is basically up to us: our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way. We give lip service to the attitude of the apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10), but our unspoken motto is, “God helps those who help themselves.”
The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of on my own performance is a very freeing and joyous experience. — Jerry Bridges, Transforming Grace
The gift that keeps on giving—the Gospel—is the only way to living a life of freedom and joy. And that is because we live in the truth and knowledge of the finished work of Jesus. When Jesus said, “It is finished!” He meant what He said! Each day we need to be reminded of this transforming and liberating power. We are not accepted because of our behavior; we are accepted because of His behavior, and for those who truly understand just how prone we are to wander, that is good news that keeps on giving!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!