The Gospel is Still Changing Me

The Gospel changed me.

It is still changing me.

Did you think the Gospel message was just for sinners… just for folks that don’t believe in Jesus or haven’t accepted God’s gift of forgiveness?

Jesus quotes the prophet Isaiah when He began teaching in the synagogue:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19)

“Freedom for the prisoners,” He says. Some translations say “captives.” Captive to what? Prisoners of what? Freedom from what!?!

Freedom from the power of sin? Yes.
Freedom from the power of death? Yes!
Freedom from the power of sickness, the power of bondage, the power of addictions? Yes!

But also freedom from the yoke of religion and the law.

He quoted the prophet Isaiah to those who would know… the religious law-makers, the rabbis, the legalistic Pharisees and Sadducees, the self-righteous… like you and me.

Truth be told, we all have a bit of self-righteousness in us. Yes, all of us. Don’t get mad at me here. You can’t help it; it’s your default setting. We all do it. Since the fall of man, we’ve been doing it. Look it up; you’ll see.

I do it and you do it. Unfortunately, we may not recognize it. We may have even subtly passed this teaching on to those who would listen. I know I have. It goes something like this…

If you pray more, God will bless you more.


If you read your Bible more, God will bless you more.

We all do it. We think it. Be honest. Isn’t there a tinge of that somewhere inside you? I’d bet there is. (Wait, I can’t bet as a Christian; God might not bless me. Oops… there it is again!)

We think that if we do good, God will bless us more, show more favor to us, or worse, love us more. We also think that if we do bad, God will bless us less, show less favor to us, or worse, love us less.

That simply is not true. That is self-righteousness. And that is one of the things Jesus came to give us freedom from.

Jesus proclaimed in His dying words, “It is finished.”

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian says:

“God’s demand is: Be perfect.
God’s diagnosis is: Nobody’s perfect.
God’s deliverance: Jesus was perfect for you.

The flesh is always resistant to ‘It is finished.’ Always. You want to talk about the mortification of sin? Start there. Start with that part of you that resists, ‘It is finished.’ That’s unbelief.

The litmus test on whether the Gospel has been communicated in a sermon, book, blog post, or tweet is: If you don’t feel lighter or freer after it’s been communicated, it wasn’t the Gospel.”

The Gospel is still changing me.

Old News? No, Good News!

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.