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The Transformative Power, Profundity and Promise of the Simple Gospel, part 3


The Gospel of Jesus Christ is so powerful, that it will take a dead man and make him alive (see part 2). It is so transformative, that it will take a blind man and allow him to see. And it is so dynamic, that it will cause a spiritual rebirth. Yet, the message of the Gospel is so simplistic, that it can be understood with child-like faith (see Part 1).

     The message of the Hope is simply this: “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Understand that there are no works that you have to accomplish in order to be saved. There is no amount of money that you need to give to the church in order to be saved. And there is no a hierarchy of knowledge that needs to be attained before you can be saved. The Apostle Paul breaks this down very simply in Romans 10:9, if you will confess with your mouth and if you will believe in your heart, then you will be saved.

     One of the greatest problems that plagues American Christianity is a desire to be eternally secure by Jesus the Savior, but an unwillingness to submit to Jesus as Lord of their life. This is known as The Lordship Gospel and it is a false teaching that has been a cancer in the Christian church since the Corinthians dealt with this in the first century. This ideology leads to Antinomianism. This beliefs basically states that one can “ask Jesus to come into his heart” (whatever that means), but you don’t have to live like a Christian. It is the false understanding of the Perseverance of the Saints, which states that since one is eternally secure, then why do I have do live for God? It is the idea that thinks this: I am saved and I am not going to lose my salvation, so no matter what my life looks like now, God is going to forgive me in the end. I am going to heaven anyway. So, I will just live my life however I want to live it.

     The Lordship Gospel and this Antinomian ideology is an epidemic in American Christianity today. The idea of living for Christ is portrayed as archaic and irrelevant. Instead, there is this false thought pattern, which says that a Christian can act like the world, talk like the world, and live like the world. And what is worse is that our American Christian culture has convinced itself that this is evangelism.

     2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” Notice a few things in regard to this verse:

“any man”
This is the Glory of the Gospel. This message is available to anyone who will believe. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is available for every man, woman, child, race, ethnicity, color or nationality. “any man” can be “in Christ.”

“in Christ”
Ephesians 1:3-14 gives a clear understanding of what it means to be “in Christ.” To be “in Christ” is to be chosen by God (Ephesians 1:4).  It is to be adopted by the Father (Ephesians 1:6). It is to be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (Ephesians 1:7). It is to be freely given an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11). And it is to have eternal security by the sealing of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). To be “in Christ” is to be in union with Christ. “In Christ” we are elected. “In Christ” we have been Justified by God’s Grace. “In Christ” we are being sanctified by God’s mercy. And “In Christ” we will be Glorified when we spend eternity crying out Holy! Holy! Holy! Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain!”

“he is a new creation”
The literal translation reads like this: “There is a new creation.” The “he” makes it personal for us to understand that God chose to love individual human beings. The literal translation helps us understand that the transformation that is happening transcends our human understanding. Both point to the fact that we are made new in Christ.

“The old has passed away”
These are the old desires of the flesh. These are the old passions of the world. This is your desire to be at enmity with God. This is the desire to go against the things of God. These things “pass away.” You no longer desire the things you used to desire. Now, you want what God wants. You desire what God desires for your life.

“the new has come”
With this transformed “new creation” the old passes away, and “the new has come.” This newness includes every fiber of your being. This newness is not compartmentalized to just Sunday mornings. This newness is a transformation of every aspect of your life. Praise God that we are not who we once were!

     There is a tremendous misunderstanding in our culture that conversion to Christianity does not effect the whole man. We have convinced ourselves that after salvation, our lives don’t need to change. Or, if they do, it can be gradual and at our own pace. But this is far from the correct understanding of what the transformative power of the Gospel does in the life of a believer.

     The misunderstanding happens when the Apostle Paul says this, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me” (Galatians 2:20). We have this false notion that dying to yourself means not doing the things you want  to do, but instead having to do the things that God says to do. It is this idea that you want to go do these other things, but since God said that you can’t do that, you die to yourself and deny yourself the things of this world to follow Christ. But this is a really bad understanding of this concept.

     When you are made new in Christ (Ephesians 2:4), you no longer want what you used to want. You no longer desire what you used to desire. All of your passions are completely transformed by the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The things of old have “passed away,” and now, “the new has come.” This newness includes a new heart that is passionate about the things of God.

     This does not mean that when you are converted to Christianity, that all of a sudden you are a perfect person. That is not at all what is being said here. We can see clearly that the Bible teaches that after our Justification, we are being Sanctified in the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. But this does mean that after our Justification, we are pursuing the Holiness of God. It means that a believer has died to himself and is not living for Christ. It means that because of the transformative power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, an authentic follower of Jesus cannot look like the world, act like the world or live like the world. He has been made new.

     When the Pharisees asked Jesus, in order to try and trap Him, What is the Greatest of all of the commandments. Jesus’ answer is extremely helpful for us to understand the transformative power of the Gospel in the life of a disciple of Christ. Jesus responds by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart”
In the Bible, your heart is connected to your desires. So, to love God with all your heart would be to love God with all of your desires. You have died to your old desires, and now you desire what God desires. You want what God wants. You are passionate to pursue the things of God. 

“Love the Lord your God with all your soul”
This is to find satisfaction in Christ alone. Psalm 40:1-2 gives us a clear understanding of what this should look like, “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs for You, O God…” Our soul finds satisfaction in who Christ is in our life. No longer are we trying to find contentment in the things of this world. Now, we find satisfaction in Christ.

“Love the Lord your God with all your mind”
Although not in Deuteronomy 6:5, we find this elsewhere in Scripture. This is to love God with your meditation. This is to “think on these things.” This is to “set our eyes on the things that are above.” This is to meditate on Scripture day and night. Because of the transformative power of the Gospel, our minds are changed, and we want to think about the things of God. And we show our love for God in doing this.

“Love the Lord your God with all your strength”
This is to obey God with our lives. This is to understand the commands of God, find much joy in them, meditate on what He has said, and then obey Him because you love Him. We desire to abide in Christ daily, because He abides in us. 

Notice the pattern of the Christian life, which is a “new creation” because of the message of the Gospel. You first die to your old desires and now you desire what God desires. And with these desires, you find much satisfaction, much contentment. And because you are satisfied in these new desires (the things of God), you want to think about them and meditate on them. And not only do you want to think about the precepts of the Lord, but you want to obey His Word.

     Christian, praise the name of the Lord your God, because He has not left you in the miry clay. Instead, He put your feet upon the steadfast rock. And now, you don’t want to be a part of what the culture has to offer. No longer do you want to look, act or live in the sinful worldliness that is offered to us each day. Instead, because of the transformative power of the Gospel, you have been made new. And your entire life is changed.

“The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

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