The Gospel is for Christians

The Gospel is for Christians 

Article by Brian Hughes 
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him”
– Colossians 2:6
When it comes to life with Jesus, Christians are quick to confess their salvation is wrought by the person and work of Jesus Christ. His bestowing of grace and mercy on them, the underserving. That’s easy for us to believe and confess. And to call non-Christians to see their need for it.

But, we need the Gospel today just as much as we did the moment we believed. As Tim Keller says, “the Gospel is not the ABCs of Christianity; it is the A to Z.” What he means is that the Gospel of grace isn’t merely the ignition, the starting place, but it is the engine that empowers every aspect of our lives with Jesus.

You see, Paul, when writing to the Church in Colossae, one of the things he was seeking was to warn them about the heresy that promised growth, sanctification, and spirituality outside of the Gospel. Not only were they prone to forsake Jesus and return to a works-based religion, but to forsake Jesus and follow the Law as Christians as a mark of their spiritual maturation.

They need to walk in Jesus the same way they received him: by grace.

Our culture’s virtues are quick to sneak their way into our churches and theology. We live in a time, especially in the U.S., of “if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything.” Our individualized, consumeristic, “tie yourself up by your bootstraps and get to work” culture can begin to influence how we view our growth in and commitment to Jesus.

So, I have a couple of reasons for you, follower of Jesus, Christian, why YOU need to hear the Gospel today:

First, we are prone to forget.
We suffer from Gospel Amnesia. When the trials of this world, burdens of life, or ongoing struggle with sin weigh heavy on our souls, they can cause us to forget the Gospel that saved us quickly. We’re no different than Israel in Psalm 106:

“At Horeb, they made a calf and worshiped the cast metal image. They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating ox. They forgot God their Savior, who did great things in Egypt.”
We, too, find ourselves forgetting the good news of God’s generous grace towards weary and broken sinners. If Israel had to be instructed over and over to “remember their God and his wonderous works,” how much more do we need it?

If you’re reading this and losing in an ongoing fight with sin, what you need is to be reminded of Jesus’ mercy towards you and his desire for you to come to him. Jesus isn’t ever tired of extending his invitation of grace towards weary and broken sinners.

If you’re reading this in a season of suffering, what you need is to be reminded of Jesus’ commitment towards you and that he is with you in it, using it to form you deeply.

And if you’re reading this and life is going great, what you need is to fight the urge of self-sufficiency and reliance and to be reminded that Jesus is your life and hope. That every good gift comes from him.

Remind yourself right now of the Gospel.

Secondly, the Gospel is not only the power for salvation but formation.
Our hearts’ tendency is to be like the Colossians – believing that growth can be produced primarily through our means, our works, and our strength. Or our tendency is to believe that God by grace saved us, but now we have got to play our part.

I know because it’s my heart’s most natural heresy. How quick I am to believe that if I do A, B, or C, then growth will happen. How quick I am to believe that if I believe the right thing or make the proper changes to my life, then sanctification will take place. How quick I am to believe that I need to hold up my end of the bargain or God will finally be fed up with me.

Christian, you don’t [primarily] need a more robust Bible-reading plan, a new method for longer prayers, a week spent in the mountains to think deeply about spiritual things, more discipline in your life, or an accountability app on your phone, what you need is a growing understanding of Jesus’ love and grace towards you in the Gospel.

As Hebrews 12:2 declares, we need to “look to Jesus, the author (founder) and perfector of our faith.” Jesus isn’t merely the one who inaugurates our faith; he achieves it. But he’s also the one who perfects, shapes, matures, and completes it.

We tend to believe the lie that if we can have the right behavior patterns, or we are growing in theological and doctrinal depth, or have the right ‘kind’ of emotional and spiritual sensory experience, that growth will happen.

Now, these things are all good and are all included in our spiritual growth, but they aren’t what cause formation and growth – real growth goes deeper.

As Dane Ortlund in his book “Deeper” says, “growing in Christ is not centrally improving or adding or experiencing but deepening.” We go deeper into the beauty and depth of the Gospel, in Jesus’ heart and disposition towards sinners, and that’s where the real formation, lasting change happens.

We will not see real depth and growth in our formation to Jesus through a “quick fix,” behavioral modification, or a self-reliant hope in a “trying harder” approach to sanctification. We need our hearts to be ever-captured by Jesus’ heart towards us and seek his face. He promises to transform us as we see him as he really is (2 Cor. 3:18).

My hope in this short article was to help each of us see our need to wake up every day and remind ourselves of Jesus’ steadfast love towards us, to really believe it, and to go deeper in mining the depths of it, and to repeat it the next day until eternity.

The Gospel isn’t merely what saves you, but it is what keeps you. It is what sustains you. It is what will transform you.

Brian Hughes

Pastor of CollegeLife