Why We Never Outgrow The Gospel: 3 Reasons

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The Fundamentals

Each year during Easter week and Resurrection Sunday, both the world and the Church are on alert as to the implications of this event from a historical standpoint. Yet both sides have glaringly distinct motives behind why they care at all about that time of year. I won’t at this point in time pontificate on the objections offered by critics and opponents of Christianity; suffice is to say that the burden of proof is on them to offer compelling evidence dispelling the claims of Christianity regarding the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. For the Christian, our interest in the Resurrection is one of absolute necessity, since on it hinges the validity of the Gospel we proclaim as the power of God unto Salvation (Rom 1:16). My aim in this blog is to offer a staunch reminder and biblical exhortation to my brothers and sisters in Christ, of the wonders of this Gospel by which we have both been saved, and are being saved at this very moment until the day of Redemption (1 Cor 15:1).

The Gospel is outlined in Scripture as the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:3,4). It is the testimony of what God has done to make a specific people, whom he has chosen by his own decree and purpose, right with himself by no merit of their own but by the merits of Christ alone (Eph 2:1-8). In modern Christendom there is a commonly held belief that the Gospel is the elementary doctrine of Christianity. It is often taught and preached in mainline evangelicalism today, that the Gospel is what gets us into the Kingdom of God, and then we move on to the weightier and more significant teachings of Christianity. I think we would do well to examine this further and see if in fact we are compelled by Scripture to move on from the Gospel.

I desire that all Christians be people of the Book, and seek earnestly in the Bible how they may grow their faith in Christ and pursue personal holiness. I believe firmly, that having a deeply rooted conviction of one’s perpetual need for the Gospel compels us to go back often to the Scriptures, therefore reminding us to look to Christ for all that we need. A view that minimizes the Gospel actually serves in encouraging the exact opposite; it opens the door to pursuing experiences that are subordinate to the Scriptures and in many cases contrary to the commands of Scripture. I hope to offer three clear and objective reasons from Holy Scripture why we never outgrow the Gospel.

3 Reasons We Never Outgrow The Gospel

We Are Called To Make Disciples Through The Gospel

The Gospel was the means God used to make us alive in Christ. As Christians we inherit the calling issued at The Great Commission by Jesus (Matt 28:18-20) to go and make disciples of all nations. As such, the Gospel is the means God uses in our preaching to save the lost since it is the very power of God unto Salvation (Rom. 1:16). If we are to take this command seriously we must certainly be well versed in the Gospel we stand on. Our calling to make disciples is inextricably woven into our common need and dependency upon the Gospel for our own continued growth in Christ as well as those we are discipling. If we seek to make disciples by an means other than the Gospel of Christ, we will certainly find our efforts to be vain and ultimately ineffective. The Gospel saves and the Gospel alone; not the Gospel and some of our works, not the Gospel and some weightier doctrines, no, the Gospel alone is the Power of God unto Salvation! To preach anything less than this glorious Gospel is to cut off the very legs upon which our hope stands. To preach anything more than the Gospel is to render the Gospel powerless and insufficient. Our calling involves making disciples, and doing so is impossible apart from the Gospel of Christ being clearly preached and taught!

We All Stumble In Many Ways, So Daily We Need The Gospel

God demands perfection from those who would draw near to him and be called his own (Matt 5:48). Unfortunately perfection is something we can never attain to on this side of eternity. Nevertheless we must strive toward that end, working diligently by faith not so as to attain righteousness, but because through this Gospel we’ve been offered an alien righteousness. The Gospel is not merely what God has ordained that we be saved through, but it is also the means God has ordained by which we are being saved (emphasis on progressive or gradual sanctification) (1 Cor. 15:2). We must daily recognize our desperate need for the Gospel, and preach it daily to ourselves recognizing that we are not yet perfected, but are being sanctified daily. This in no way undermines our justification; we are fully and instantly justified upon regeneration, however, we need daily reminded that our works are filthy rags before God and add nothing to our right standing with God. We need only rest in the finished work of Christ to have our hearts encouraged and our consciences cleared before God. A believer who views the Gospel as inapplicable to their daily walk with Christ, will naturally migrate into a form of legalism. They will tend to relate to God based on a system of works, where each sin they find in their life will need to be outweighed with self condemnation and excessive “good works” so as to tilt the scale back toward “favor with God.” This is far too common among believers and it is not glorifying to God or beneficial to the individual. Yet this is the natural pull of the person who sees the Gospel as an elementary tool only necessary for new believers. Nothing could be further from the truth; we all stumble in many ways, and as such we need the Gospel daily to direct our attention to Christ and remember His righteousness which has been imputed to us by which we stand fully justified before God (2 Cor 5:11-21).

The Gospel Is a Mystery That We Can Never Exhaust

The meditation and singular focus of heaven is “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain” (Rev. 5:12). Within those words is the essence of this Gospel which I submit to you, we must never outgrow. The gospel is not as many may suspect, an elementary principle, rather it is the culmination of the manifold wisdom of God! We can never exhaust the wonders of this message in which we see the mercy, love, grace, and justice of God all fully displayed and upheld. The mystery of this gospel is one into which even angels long to look (1Peter 1:12). There was never a secondary plan of redemption in the heart and mind of God, for Christ indeed is the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8). It is a shallow and presumptuous person who would assert that they have come to master and move on from the basics of the Gospel. Such a person does not know full-well the depths of their own sin and the fierce holiness and perfection of God. The gospel being the Good News, is only good when the individual understands the just and eternal judgement they rightly deserve. It will require all of eternity for us to explore in full depth and pure bliss, how it is that a people who by no merits of their own, have come to not only be reconciled to God, but to join him in reigning as co-heirs (Rom 8:17)! That the gospel is inexhaustible comes as no surprise to the soul saved by grace, because through it we come to know Him who is inexhaustible, namely Christ Jesus our LORD! As John Piper has so succinctly stated “God is the Gospel.”

Song for Reflection

Hidden With Christ: The Tension Between Indwelling Sin and Life In Christ

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“Once let us see that sin is far viler, and far nearer to us, and sticks more closely to us than we supposed, and we shall be led, I trust and believe, to get nearer to Christ.”     – JC. Ryle

The Dichotomy In All Believers

“All christians are hypocrites, that’s why I don’t go to church.” Ever hear someone say this? Perhaps you’ve said it yourself? It seems to me in my interactions with the unchurched, this is the overarching logic behind many people’s distaste with church-and “Christians” for that matter. I for one don’t find that statement offensive, in a lot of ways I find it to be enlightening. If you’re a Christian, have you ever felt like a hypocrite? Don’t answer that. Because the answer is a clear and resounding… YES! Of course you’ve felt like a hypocrite, we all have, perhaps you feel like one now. It is not unfamiliar to the believer to feel anything but shame and hypocrisy in light of the holy standard we’re called to uphold. The individual may well feel justified who labels all Christians hypocrites, but they’d do well to avoid the perfect church where hypocrites are absent for then there would be at least 1 hypocrite present. Now, what I’m not saying is that all Christians are hypocrites intentionally. I mean to portray the dichotomy present in every born-again believer of indwelling sin and the alien righteousness of Christ. There is a real tension in which believers are fully pure and righteous through the imputed righteousness of Christ. Whereby we are no longer dead in sin but alive in Christ and become a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17); while also remaining actual sinners and captive in a temporary sense to sin in our flesh. Martin Luther referred to this reality as “Simul Justus et Peccator” meaning at the same time righteous and sinner. The Apostle Paul well into his ministry expressed this tension which he saw present in his own life like this:

19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Romans 7:19–25 (ESV)

Reading those words should bring the believer peace knowing that we are not alone when we fall short of the standard we’re called to keep. Christians are called to a far higher standard then we’re even able to actually attain to; we’re called to perfection! We’re called to a standard of perfection that is Holy as God himself is Holy. This is a huge dilemma for the human race at large, because how can we who can’t even keep our own crooked and corrupted standards, uphold and meet the standards of the Flawless, Perfect, Holy God? Short answer: WE CAN’T! We sin as christians, and we sin often. We think lustful thoughts, we feel hatred and covetousness, we’re unloving to our spouse, we lie and make selfish excuses, we curse and lash out in anger. We all like Paul find ourselves saying “wretched man that I am”. Yet, though we sin we now hate the sin we commit. We wage war against sin, and we confess that sin is present all the while yearning for the day when we will be freed from it forever. This Dichotomy is present in all Christians: indwelling sin and the new creation.

Exposed From My Hiding Place

It seems that in the process of progressive sanctification in my own life, I find myself at times regressing where I ought to be growing exponentially. Last week was one of those weeks for me. Last Sunday I had just released my first blog post for TIP, and was feeling accomplished and encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive feedback. Not to mention, earlier that morning we were thoroughly encouraged by our Pastor’s sermon and were looking for ways to apply God’s word during the week. It happened as we were sitting at home that evening , that my wife noticed a post on Facebook by someone who I didn’t follow. The post seemingly attempted to take a shot at my efforts through this blog to build up the Body of Christ (whether that was the person’s actual intent or not we may never know). My wife became angered about this post and wanted to private message this individual to perhaps “address their motives”. I asked to see the post so she showed it to me, I urged her to leave it alone since it was of no harm. However after pressing me for a bit, I consented to allow her to privately message said individual. That was my first mistake since I acted passively with my wife, instead of reinforcing my original desire that we both forget it and move on. One thing led to another through these private messages, and before you know it I felt that this individual had crossed the line toward my wife. I naturally took it upon myself to call them, and it wasn’t long before I allowed my sinful anger to get the best of me. We went back and forth with choice words, saying less then helpful or constructive things to one another. By the time I hung up the phone I felt like an absolute hypocrite! Sure, I called the individual’s pastor and confessed that I sinned as well as they, and I went also to the LORD and repented for my actions and words. Yet, this didn’t change the fact that I chose to allow my sin to control me. I came out from my hiding place, which is Christ, and responded as a heathen! Did I lose my salvation? Of course not! Did I lose a brother? Perhaps, and maybe a sister. Here the law of sin present in my members was clearly seen, and in the place where I thought I had matured, God showed me through exposing this that I still have unbridled anger to deal with. Sanctification does not occur instantly, rather it occurs progressively. God’s Justification whereby he declares us righteous is instant and complete. Yet The Holy Spirit’s Sanctification in our lives is progressive and over time. This is God’s mercy to us, for if he revealed to us all our sin at once we would be despairing beyond any hope. It is this very reason that we have moments when it seems we’ve grown in a particular area, and yet find that we easily revert back to immaturity as it were. It is not that we haven’t grown in that area, it’s that we are being progressively grown to greater depths. I can be tempted to fall into condemnation when this occurs, and maybe you can too. I’d only encourage you to remember this:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

Hidden With Christ: A Righteousness Not Our Own

 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1–4 (ESV)

The blessed hope of every believer is that we will never be condemned for all our sinning. We will never come under the wrath of God for our egregious blasphemies. However, lest we think that God has excused our sinning or is indifferent toward our unrighteousness. Lest we believe that He will judge everyone on a curve or hand out some “get out of jail free” cards to otherwise well meaning individuals. Let us look intently at the sufferings of Christ! Let us see the Spotless Lamb of God without blemish or wrinkle, bear in His own body on the Cross, the Wrath of Almighty God for our sinning. What I mean by a righteousness not our own, is what theologians call “The Great Exchange”. Where God placed our sin and unrighteousness on Christ who is Very God of Very God, the 2nd person of the Trinity, the chosen Messiah of Yahweh, and placed on us His Perfect Righteousness. There are only two ways to pay for sin, either in hell for all eternity, or by Christ’s Atoning work at Calvary. In our daily living we wage war with our own sin, all awhile reminded by The Holy Spirit that we have died with Christ. If indeed we have died then we have also been raised with Him. It is they who have been raised with Christ who seek the things that are above, it is they also who set their minds on things that are above. They also, who have been raised with Christ testify with the psalmist:

Whom have I in heaven but you?And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:25–26 (ESV)

So although this dichotomy is in us, let us press on to remember that we have died and our life is now hidden with Christ. Our identity is found in the Son of God, through whom we have been given newness of life. We wear robes of righteousness but they’re not our own robes, it’s a borrowed righteousness from Christ himself. When the accuser would judge you and hypocrisy befit you, don’t come running out from your hiding place, rather press in further to the Son of God who is your life. Sin no doubt will be seen in you until you’re off to glory, but repentance and grace will always follow as necessary consequences of being hidden with Christ. If repentance from sin is found lacking in your own life, look intently through scripture at your own heart and examine yourself to see if you are truly of the FAITH. Press on brothers and sisters, and strive toward the holiness without which no one shall see the LORD. Do this all by faith knowing all your righteousness is not your own, but belongs to the Son of God who loved you and gave himself for you. So yes, all Christians are hypocrites. Yet they’re redeemed and rescued hypocrites, who place no confidence in themselves. You’re welcome to join this assembly of Saint’s with all your hypocrisy also. Confessing your need for the Savior and renouncing all your wickedness, you too will receive Robes of Righteousness not your own. Then you too will be summoned to be Hidden with Christ forevermore!

Steps for Application

So this can all seem effective in theory and perhaps even encouraging as spiritual rhetoric. Yet I intend to make this palpable and practical to daily living. If you find that your war on indwelling sin personally is more like a surrender then a fight, take courage for there is hope in Christ! I recommend taking these 5 Steps to help you in your progressive sanctification, they’ll help you prove that you are indeed hidden with Christ!

  1. Confess your sins regularly to your spouse and/or a mature brother/sister or elder. (Don’t hide your sins, we all have them, you’ll do well to expose them to mature believers and ultimately repent of them)
  2. Pray privately to God for at least 5 to 10 min a day (or more, but start with attainable goals)
  3. Read the scriptures daily (at least 10 to 15 min. or more, the psalms and epistles are always helpful starting points)
  4. Listen to biblically saturated, gospel centered podcasts. (Fill your mind and heart with Truth)
  5. Take inventory of your entertainment streams, (i.e. social media, movies, music, tv, etc.) Cut out the things that tempt you toward disengagement from God’s Word and God’s people, the Church.

Though these 5 things are by no means a guarantee that sin will be easily defeated. They will aid you in developing new habits that lead you to Christ who is the one who conquers and liberates you from all sin. Press on toward the upward call of God!

Song For Reflection