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On Faith: The Gospel in me

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV

There’s a lot of talk lately about the word “Gospel.” And usually, it’s the prefix to the real thing people are talking about: Gospel-shaped community and Gospel-infused fellowship. It’s become more of a buzzword to grab attention than the “good news” that word originally meant.

And to make things more confusing, the New Testament of the Bible begins with the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  

Each of these, though, is not the Gospel in itself, but accounts given by men who were there to see Christ in the flesh, and saw God’s plan to save sinners being worked out before their own eyes. Each of those books serve as a declaration of God’s love. Together, they give us an accurate description of Jesus’ words, actions and ultimate display of selfless love.

My concern is that we can get so tangled up in doing things “shaped” by the Gospel that we can lose sight of what the Gospel really is: We were created to know and love God. We chose instead to pursue and desire evil things instead of the one who created us for relationship with him. Despite our rejection of him and his desires for us, he chose to love us and restore our relationship with him. He did that through doing what had to be done to fix what we had broken with sin. Christ bore the full weight of our sin and rebellion on the cross so that the damage we had done in breaking off our relationship with God might be undone, and that relationship restored, if we trust in him and give him our lives.

The good news of the Gospel is this: That instead of worrying about judgment that is coming for the things we’ve done to disobey God, we can rest in the peace that that judgment has already been poured out on Christ on the cross. He bore judgement and death so that we might know forgiveness and life.

The good news is that God loved us, even before we come to love him.

But that good news doesn’t stop when I come to trust in Christ; the Gospel shapes me. Christ not only saved me, but set me free from sin. Through the work of Christ, we grow in unity. We grow in faith and knowledge. We grow in maturity, and the fullness of Christ in us. God has saved us. He has united us. He continues to work in us, making us more and more into the people we were created to be.

As a Christian, the good news that God has saved me from myself should not only affect me on Sunday mornings, but every day and in every aspect of my life. And as we grow together, it should be more evident in each of our lives that Christ has changed us, that we are different and better people because of what Jesus has done for us.

The Gospel in me is a simple thing: that I let what I believe shape who I am, and that I live my life for the one who saved me, rather than the selfish sin that destroys me.

”On Faith” is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.