The full gospel, and that alone!

Romans 5:18-19 – For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ

Paul had one and one goal only: he wanted to proclaim the gospel to those who had not yet heard it. He wanted to tell people what Jesus has accomplished: how he has made a way for us all to be forgiven even though we were God’s enemies and deserved only his wrath. For us to be made children of God instead of slaves of sin.

That’s all Paul wanted to speak about. And yet we so often sacrifice this gospel for some watered-down, feel-good story that tries not to offend by avoiding the fact that we are all wretched sinners who cannot save ourselves. We lure people in with gimmicks instead of gospel, with tales instead of truth. Stop fearing man and start fearing God!

This isn’t how it should be! We should be passionate about the gospel – the FULL gospel. The gospel that tells us the truth about our sin – the gospel that shows God’s love for saving us even though we didn’t deserve it. There is no gospel without sin and our need for a saviour! It isn’t love that’s out-of-this-world if it’s just based on how good we are! It’s not truth unless it’s the whole truth.

How do you go with telling people the gospel – the whole gospel? I know I fail miserably at it. Yet there is forgiveness and grace in Jesus Christ my Lord. It’s something I need to be working on. What about you? What about our churches?

Is our goal, like Paul’s was, to share the gospel, the full gospel and only the gospel?

Soli Deo Gloria!

Nat.

Standing Together: The perfect Example of Humility – Jesus.

In my last post we looked at pride as one of the biggest enemies of unity between Christians (You can see that post here). Because of this, Paul continues on this theme, giving us the perfect example of someone who was humble – Jesus.

Philippians 2:5-11 – Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is God. He is the creator of the universe. He was enthroned in heaven, in perfect relationship with the other 2 members of the trinity from eternity past. He deserves all glory and honour, all praise. He placed the stars into space with his words. He created life by speaking.

And yet, instead of claiming that praise and honour, he willingly became a man. He was born in a stable – his creation didn’t even make room for him at his birth. He took the form of a “servant” – in the original language (as far as I know) this is better translated as a slave. But Jesus didn’t only do that. He humbled himself further – he willingly died one of the most shameful deaths that there was for us. The creator of the universe, the one who sustains us every second of the day, was beaten, mocked, spat on and then hung up on a tree to die.

Why did he do that? So he could save us. We are sinners. We have disobeyed God’s perfect law, and as a result we deserve his punishment (hell). Nothing we can do can save us from that – we’ve already stuffed it up. But Jesus didn’t sin. He was God and he was man at the same time, so he took our sin and he took God’s punishment for that sin on the cross. He died in our place – in the place of those who had rebelled against him, who hated him, who were his enemies, so we could be forgiven and to show forth God’s character – his justice and perfection along with his mercy and grace and love.

But that doesn’t automatically make us saved. No, God calls us to respond to this free gift – to put our trust in Jesus as the only saviour and to repent of our sins.

Jesus humbled himself completely for God’s glory. In the same way we should be willing to give up our wants for the sake of those around us. We will never be able to meet what Jesus did for us (and that’s not the aim) – so we have no excuse to be proud and selfish. We need to be ready to even suffer for fellow Christians in order to help them. Humility hurts. It’s not an easy thing we’ve been called to. But it is glorious, and it is far better than pride because it glorifies our Father in heaven instead of ourselves.

Jesus is the perfect example of humility. Will I follow that example even when it hurts? Will you?

God Bless!

Nat.

 

Standing Together: To encourage each other to live godly lives.

https://i2.wp.com/www.psdgraphics.com/file/paper-people-background.jpgPhilippians 1:27-30

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Paul starts these verses by calling the Philippians to live a life worthy of the gospel. If they claim to be God’s people they need to reflect that claim by living as his people. We are God’s representation on earth. We are being watched, and what we do gives an impression (whether true or false) of who God is to those who see us.
One way to live rightly as one of God’s people is to work with other Christians to do it. When we try to do something on our own, it’s hard because we only have our own ideas and thoughts to go off. We have no one to keep us on the right track, no one to challenge our ideas, no one to show us when we are subtly justifying to ourselves something that is wrong.
That’s one reason that we have to stand together as God’s people: We need to stand together so we can help each other to live a life that reflects who our God and saviour is. We need help to be holy as God is holy. Now obviously it is only by God’s grace and the work of the Holy Spirit that we can be saved and it is only by him that we can be learning to obey him better. And our ‘good deeds’ certainly don’t make us more worthy of salvation. They are simply a response of love to his fantastic grace in saving us when we didn’t deserve it.
It’s much easier to obey God when you’re doing it with other Christians – seeing their example and following it, encouraging each other to resist sin and being able to talk about particular temptations you have and pray for each other. Part of working together is being selfless and humble. We need to work with other Christians to help ourselves obey God, but we also need to work with them in order to benefit them. We can’t be self-obsessed – that’s something we’re bad at in our western culture.
We weren’t created to serve God alone. Even in the garden God gave Adam a partner – Eve. If Adam needed a companion when he was perfect, how much more do we need to help each other when it’s a struggle to obey God?
So I have two questions for you: Firstly, How are you going at obeying God? And secondly, are you spending time with other Christians being real and honest with them? Are you looking to help them to live for God, while also humbly looking for their help in your own life?