Three crosses

What is the Gospel? 

That question is one we should explore every day of our lives.  Our churches and the sermons our pastors preach should be centered around the message and application of the Gospel.

Why?  Because, it’s all we have!  Without the Gospel, there’s no life, there’s only death.  

There are depths to the Gospel that are to be discovered and applied not only to our ministries and our daily walks but, above all, to the worship of the God of the Gospel with renewed vision!

Martin Luther once said, “Religion forms the default mode of the human heart.” So it’s mandatory for us to contrast religion from the Gospel. Religion has defaulted our brains to think and practice based on performance. So, we say, “I obey, therefore, I’m accepted.” But that’s the complete opposite of how God works. The Gospel says, “I’m accepted by God through Jesus, therefore I obey.” So, for us to really understand this requires that the Gospel be explored and dug into every opportunity that we get. 

So, What is The Gospel?  The short answer is that it’s an announcement.

It’s an announcement that God has reconciled us to Himself by sending His Son Jesus to die as a substitute for our sins and all who repent and believe have eternal life in Him..

The Gospel isn’t just the means by which you get to Heaven, but it’s the driving force behind every single moment of your life. God doesn’t save us just to get us Heaven.  Understand that statement!  We’re not primarily saved to get us from earth to heaven, but rather God saves us to get Jesus out of Heaven and into earth through us. The Gospel is the basis of how we relate to God, ourselves and everybody else.  It’s the source from which everything flows. 

The goal of the Gospel is to produce a type of people consumed with passion for God and love for others.  That’s it! Every other aspect of your Christian life will flow from those two primary focuses. Love for God and love for others.  That’s why Jesus said in Matthew 22:36-49 that these were the two greatest commandments.

When you love God and love others, everything else falls into place naturally. “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”   That’s everything! Jesus put everything that matters on the back of Loving God and loving others.

Love for God is commanded, but the command can only be fulfilled as our eyes are opened to see God’s beauty revealed in the Gospel. The Holy Spirit uses the Gospel and its beauty to stir up a desire for God in us. As John would say in 1 John 4, We love Him, because He first loved us!  So, in essence, love FOR God grows from experiencing the love OF God.

So, where or what is real spiritual growth?  In John 15 we see Jesus give a message to the disciples. He tells them the secret to the Christian Life. He said it is to abide in Him.  We don’t produce fruit by reading books, memorizing scripture, even being in accountability groups. Those things have their place, but real fruit can only come from abiding in Jesus. The word abide is the Greek word meno, and it literally means “to make your home in” His love. To saturate ourselves with it, to stand in absolute awe of it.  When we do that, fruit will start to naturally flow out of our lives. 

We should also come to understand that His love isn’t based on how much fruit we produce. In other words, the people who “get better” are the ones who understand that God’s love and approval of them isn’t dependent on their getting better. The byproduct of abiding in Jesus is becoming more patient in your marriage or with your kids, becoming more generous, and developing self-control. Abiding in Jesus produces ALL the fruit of the spirit, but not by concentrating on any of them.  You concentrate on Jesus, you rest in His love and acceptance given to you. Not based on what you’ve done, but on the basis of who He is and what He’s done! Without love this whole thing is worthless. 

The point is producing real love in your heart for God takes more than spiritual gifts, doctrinal knowledge, faith and obedience. That’s where the Gospel comes in!  The Gospel, and only the Gospel has the power to produce love for God in the heart. 

Romans 1:16, Paul calls the Gospel God’s power for salvation. In all of his writings there are only two things Paul refers to as the power of God. One is salvation, and the other is Jesus Himself!

As the message of The Gospel is proclaimed, the Holy Spirit makes the heart come alive to see the glory and beauty of God revealed in it. As the Gospel is believed, through the power of the Holy Spirit, our selfish, hardened hearts come alive with passions for God. So, religion can tell us what to do - Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself, but the Gospel alone give us the power to do it!

So, if you’re not where you should be spiritually, the answer is NOT getting busier for Jesus. The answer is making your home in God’s love given to your freely as a gift in Christ. Only in the Gospel is the power to obey the first commandment. Only in the truth of the Gospel can a heart of stone burst alive in love for God. 

But, for most churches, the Gospel has been just the entry into Christianity. It’s the prayer we pray to begin a relationship with Jesus. However, it’s not about how we begin in Christ, it’s how we grow and progress and live in Christ. The Gospel is everything. 

The Gospel has done its work in us when we crave God more than we crave anything else in life. More than money, more than romance, more than family, more than health, more than fame. When seeing His Kingdom advance in the lives of other people gives us more joy than we could even own. When we love others like He loves us, we will willingly give up our possessions to see His Kingdom come into their lives.

Echo Day is The Leader's managing editor. To contact her, call 901-476-7116 or email eday@covingtonleader.com.

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