Friday, January 25, 2013

What is the Gospel?

What Is the Gospel?

There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the Gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the Gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the Gospel.
The Gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness – or lack of it – or the righteousness of another. The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.
The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the Gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith – and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him – and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Gratitude or Greed

“One’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” -Luke 12:15

The Rich Fool of Jesus’ parable in Luke 12 could be a poster boy for the American Dream. He worked his land, earned a good living, and planned to enjoy the fruits of his labor. But he could also pass for what is too often the American Reality. Ruled by selfishness and greed, he ignored the One who created the land, the One who made it produce a harvest, and the One who numbered his very days.

Gratitude or Greed quote

Everything we have comes from God and belongs to God: life, family, money, resources, time, job, talents . . . everything. (John 3:27; 1 Cor. 4:7) We are stewards of what God has given us. He owns it; we use it.

In addition to the breath in our lungs and the food on our table, through the work of Jesus, God has given us forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life: “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven.” (1 Peter 1:4)

All of this is much more than we deserve, and though many Christians would nod their head in agreement, few actually live as though that were true. Rather than cultivating humble appreciation, we covet a higher standard of living. Rather than gratitude for his grace, we exhibit greed for our own gain.

The difference between these two outlooks influences and directs every aspect of life:

AttitudeHumility (Phil. 2:3)Grumbling (Phil. 2:15)
PerspectiveGrace: “I am a sinner who de- serves death but Jesus paid the price and gave me his perfect righteousness.”Entitlement: “I am a good person who deserves heaven—plus a comfortable, pain-free existence in the meantime.”
DesireJesus is enough to satisfy my life.Jesus is not enough. I want wealth / fame / comfort / power as well.
MoneyGod gives. Therefore my money is his, and I use it to glorify him.I earn. Therefore my money is mine, and I use it howeverI please.
PossessionsContent: I have enoughCovetous: I never have enough
ChurchServe as a member of God’s familyBe served as a consumer
JobWork heartily for the Lord; cultivating thanks for God’s provision (Deut. 8:17; Col. 3:23)Work begrudgingly for the man; becoming bitter and jealous against others (James 3:16)
FamilyA blessing to embraceA burden to escape
FutureEternal: optimistic/hopeful (2 Cor. 4:7–9)Temporal: pessimistic/anxious
WorshipTime, energy, and resources go to GodTime, energy, and resources go to me
IdentityJesus and his achievementMy abilities and my achievements
GivingGenerousGuilt- or gain-motivated (or non-existent)

Which column most accurately describes your life? In which areas are you encouraged? Where do you need to repent and seek forgiveness?

This post was adapted from my book MONEY: GOD OR GIFT. Follow this link to receive a free ebook copy when you sign up for my newsletter.

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