This is probably the most important thread I have written for Founder and Perfecter. Not that it is any big deal to speak from my life, but this biblical message has had such a profound impact on me, that I must share it.
This message is the gospel.
Because you are on this blog, you probably believe you are a Christian. This message is for you. You may not be a Christian. You may already be a Christian. No matter who you are or what you currently believe, you need the gospel.
I grew up in a church that implicitly taught that the gospel is a message for unbelievers. Every time the gospel was ever told it was phrased, “maybe you have never accepted Jesus into your heart.” All the while, I, sitting in the pew would think, “I accepted Jesus into my heart when I was 7. This is just for the unbelievers.”
I was wrong. Oh how greatly I was wrong.
I commit sins frequently. So do you. If you don’t agree, you need to read the law of God. The 10 commandments are not fun to read. I did not enjoy reading James saying, “whoever knows what good he ought to do but does not do it, for him it is sin.” I especially hated reading Paul saying, “everything that does not stem from faith is sin.” Again James would chime in with, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” It didn’t help for Jesus to tell me that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully is guilty of adultery, and anyone who hates his brother is guilty of murder. If you don’t feel despair, you are probably feeling pride, and have been guilty of breaking the whole law the whole time.
My conscience bore witness against me that I needed to stop sinning. I wanted to. I tried to. I failed. Time after time. Like clockwork. I might once concoct some punishment scheme and for a short season stay clean until I relapsed. Another time I might manipulate my thinking. I failed in due time.
All the advice people would offer was no help. Everyone had some clever thought, or tried to pretend like they didn’t know what it was like to be tempted to sin. I got a whole lot of moralizing, but the more I was convinced that I needed to do better, the worse I did. The guiltier I felt. I just wanted to die.
Jesus was my savior. He saved me through the gospel.
What is the gospel?
The gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, an eternal person of the triune God, became a human being. He lived and was tempted in every way, but sinned not. Jesus willingly subjected himself to death on a cross. He was betrayed by one of his own, denounced by the others. He prayed to the point of shedding his blood in the hours leading up to his betrayal from one of the 12 people closest to him. He was beaten severely. God poured out his wrathful anger at my sins on Jesus Christ. It please the Lord to crush him. Jesus drank every drop of wrath that fell from the cup. The crowds jeered. He was blindfolded and struck, then mocked saying, “prophesy! which one of us struck you?” They mocked his kingly claim by pressing a crown of thorns into his skull. He did not open his lips except to forgive a man who sinned against him, to bewail the turning of God’s face from him, to state, “father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” and to say, “it is finished.” He was buried in a tomb. On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead, eternally defeating all of his enemies, and destroying the power of the devil. He walked among men for while longer showing his resurrected, scarred body to multitudes, then he ascended into Heaven that he may reign at the right hand of the Father. He sent a Comforter who was called the Interpreter, that is the Holy Spirit. By grace alone, through faith alone, he imputed Christ’s righteousness to all who believe and has made propitiation for our sins, so that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, only everlasting joy. All who believe will see his beauty face to face and not fall down dead from sin, but be eternally satisfied, forever.
That is the gospel. The gospel breaks the power of forgiven sin. I repent. I believe. I am forgiven. God uses the gospel to hold us close to him, and it is God that keeps us in the faith. I have the power to stop sinning without animalistic restraint or raw obedience. Glory to the lamb that was slain!
If you have never heard this message, I am truly sorry, believe it today and read about even more of the details in the Bible (I would recommend reading John). If you have heard it before but never believed it, believe it today. If you are like the rest of us who have believed this before, believe that this still applies to you today.
You never outgrow your need for the gospel. Ever. You don’t just hear the gospel, get saved and then devote the rest of your life to raw obedience! You get saved through the gospel and you get strong through the gospel. Don’t run away, don’t rebel, don’t put it off. Believe. If you do not believe, read it again. If you still do not believe, read the gospels in the Bible (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Read about it until you believe. Truly, God is merciful and I believe that he will show you the truth. Keep your eyes fixed on the one with the power to keep you from sinning and to save you from sin.