The Gospel: More Than a Doorway to Salvation

Growing up I viewed the gospel as a doorway to salvation. It’s easy to assume that the gospel is only for people who have never heard it. While we of course are to share the gospel with people who don’t know Christ, I’ve come to realize the wonders of applying it to my everyday life. It is not simply an entrance to a relationship with God; it is something Christians are to gaze upon and abide in daily.

What is the gospel? I like how the apostle Paul re-explained it to the Christians in Ephesus:

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience – among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:1-10) 

By nature, especially in the U.S., people have a performance-based mentality. We assume that we have to do something in order to get something. It just makes sense. To get certain jobs you have to have a college degree. And if you do not need a college degree, you need other evidence that proves you deserve the job – like experience or talent. To receive a master’s degree you have to study and do research for a large sum of hours. When the University of Georgia beats Florida in football in October (smile), the team will have had to earn it. They’ve been preparing far in advance for that win- through spring training, conditioning, intense practices, reviewing plays, etc. (Go Dawgs.) And the list of examples goes on…

Because this performance-based mindset is so prevalent, it’s easy as believers to transfer that to our relationship with God. It’s easy to believe (even after we are saved) that to “earn” God’s favor we must fulfill a checklist: “Don’t drink, smoke or chew, or go with boys who do.” Pray, witness to others, go on a missions trip, read the Bible (actually no- study it inductively!), etc. We think, then God will be pleased with me.”

While those things are good and vital parts of our relationship with God, they do not earn or change our position with Christ. God did EVERYTHING that was necessary through Christ’s death and resurrection. Paul also wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that “For our sake He made Him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” It was, as Martin Luther said, a “great exchange.” Jesus swapped places with us; all we do is put our faith in Him. After that happens, God sees Jesus when He looks at us… and He is very pleased! Every time I remember that, I am so relieved and grateful for the cross.

Practically, how does this look in our lives? When I sin (especially if it’s something I struggle with often) instead of just creating more rules for myself, I need to deal with my heart. I need to preach the gospel to myself. Sometimes I do it literally—out loud and VERY LOUDLY. J This semester I’m memorizing Ephesians 2:1-10, in hopes that when I do fail (which inevitably will happen) the Holy Spirit will use it to remind me of the gospel. Because of Christ’s work (not mine), when God looks at me He sees His Son… and is completely pleased. How AWESOME is that?!

While my sin hinders my fellowship with God, it will never change my position as His child. For example, if I do something to hurt my dad it will put distance between us relationally and emotionally. But I will always be Jon Deans’ daughter. I have his blue eyes, his personality quirks and his very DNA. It’s the same way with our heavenly Father. My sin will inevitably hinder my fellowship with Him; but because of Christ’s finished work on the cross, I will always be His daughter.  My motivation to fight sin is no longer legalistic. Rather, I do not want to hurt the One who has gone to such great measures to show His love for me.

I encourage you to gaze upon the character of God. The more we do that, the more aware of His holiness we become. We also become more aware of our sinfulness; but instead of being discouraged by the distance between His holiness and our sinfulness, remember the cross and grow in your appreciation and joy of what Jesus has done to make us righteous.

 


Emily is a native of Athens, GA, who never left. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2009 and now works for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at UGA and Watkinsville First Baptist Church. She loves spending time with college students, cheering on the Dawgs, running, and drinking an unhealthy amount of coffee.

 

 

 

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