Paul Collins writes:
The Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ has been designed by God to meet the total human need. In fact, the Gospel is the power of God at work in people's lives.
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." Romans 1:16.
The next verse goes on to describe the key elements of the power of the Gospel:
"For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith'" Romans 1:17.
Note the three key descriptors of the Gospel in this verse:
Every religion, philosophy and ideology in the world relies on self-effort to change a person. Only the Gospel is different. The power that is released by the Gospel is not "from me" but "from God."
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" 2 Corinthians 4:7.
We know that we are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). But the whole Christian life is lived by faith. Faith presupposes a total dependence on God.
"...The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" Galatians 2:20.
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him" Colossians 2:6.
The Gospel does not just introduce us to the Christian life; it establishes us in the Christian life! From start to finish, the Gospel describes how the whole Christian life is "from God" and "by faith."
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." Hebrews 12:2.
To understand the power of the Gospel, we must understand the work of Jesus on the Cross.
"...But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself" Hebrews 9:26.
The Cross of Christ was a once for all, never to be repeated work of salvation. It was a complete work. The Cross dealt totally with our:
Our sin was a barrier between us and God. The blood of Christ wiped out this barrier once and for all, bringing forgiveness, reconciliation and eternal life.
"For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God." 1 Peter 3:18.
The Cross of Christ also dealt with the root of the problem - self. The core of the old self is a self-centre and independence from God. At the Cross, Jesus not only died for my sins. I died in Him! The old self was dealt with once for all.
"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that.we should no longer be slaves to sin" Romans 6:6 (read also verses 10-11).
A revelation of the finished work of the Cross lays the foundation for the new creation life in Christ.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17.
There is only one true Gospel. But if we do not understand that it is a whole Gospel for the whole life, then we will try to live the Christian life in our own strength and wisdom. The result will be a negating of the daily power of the Gospel.
"For Christ [sent] me...to preach the gospel - not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power" 1 Corinthians 1:17.
In the words of Dr J I Packer: "You cannot add to [the Gospel] without subtracting from it. By augmenting it, you cannot enrich it; you can only impoverish it." Anything that distracts from the Cross of Christ waters down the power of the Gospel. The Christian life will be sub-standard, and so will be church life. Everything the Holy Spirit does in our life revolves around the finished work of the Cross. But if we do not understand the finished work - if there are gaps in our Gospel - then we will try to fill in the missing parts with other things. The result will be toxic gospels in the Church.
Go to Part 2: Toxic Gospels
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Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures quoted in these articles are from the New International Version of the Bible, © New York International Bible Society, used by permission. Other versions referred to are: KJV (King James Version), NKJB (New King James Bible), TLB (The Living Bible), Amp (The Amplified Bible) and The Message. All versions used by permission.
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