Have you ever been in a church service, heard a basic Gospel message, and thought, “I’ve heard this before. I know all this. Can’t we move on?!? Give me something that’s practical for being a better person at work or loving my family more.”
I have. I know I’m terrible, but I’ve had those thoughts. Sorry.
For the past several months, I’ve been trying to share (with any who would listen) the Good News about the all-sufficiency of Jesus. Recently, I’ve tried to move on to different topics, all the while feeling like I need to hear this all-sufficient message again and again… daily, if need be.
Here’s the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ:
In His death (and, of course, resurrection), we have life… life eternal.
Because Jesus won, I’m free to lose.
Because Jesus was strong, I’m free to be weak.
Because Jesus was someone, I’m free to be no one.
Because Jesus was the ultimate leader, I’m free and content to be a follower.
Because Jesus was (is) extraordinary, I’m free and content to be ordinary.
Because Jesus succeeded, I am free to fail.
Because “It is finished”, the work is done.
That’s right. The work is done. It is finished. The righteousness of God has been fulfilled in Christ death:
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (1 Corinthians 5:21)
In Him, we become “the righteousness of God”! This is such good news! Can you grasp that!?! Because of the love of God in Jesus Christ, there’s no more trying to be a better person. Jesus was good enough (understatement) for all of us. There’s no more toeing the line or stepping up your commitment. In His great love, Jesus was committed to you and I, and that’s enough. No more to-do lists. The requirements have all been met.
If we truly grasp the love of God in Christ and what has been accomplished for us, we are compelled to live for God and not for ourselves. We are compelled to obedience; it is not a chore or a burden. We don’t gravitate toward the things of this world system or toward sin, but instead are drawn by the Holy Spirit to the things of God.
We, as Christians, talk quite a bit about “crucifying self” and we talk about it as if it were something we could accomplish. The Apostle Paul said, “I HAVE BEEN crucified with Christ…” (Galatians 2:20). It was something that occured… that happened to him… and it was ongoing. Read the same passage out of The Message, a paraphrase of the Bible which captures the meaning and context of passages quite well:
What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily. (Galatians 2:19-21, The Message)
I asked yesterday, “How do you think God feels about you?” The majority of folks replied that they felt God was disappointed in them. It proabably wouldn’t take long to discover this was because of past decisions or poor behavior. But it’s so sad that we’ve been led to believe by the enemy of our souls, Satan, (or worse, the Church), that we are a disappointment to God.
Please hear this: Despite poor decisions or bad behavior, you and I are as acceptable to God as Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, or the Apostle Paul. He loves us just as much as He loves them. If you are “in Christ”, your past, present, and future failures, poor decisions, and ugly behavior is covered by the blood of Jesus.
Again, if we truly grasp the love of God in Christ and what has been accomplished for us, it should bring tremendous freedom to any and all areas of our lives. In essence, it’s His love that sets us free.
This is the Gospel… the Good News… and we should never tire of hearing it.