Living in the Good of the Gospel
- Friday, October 17, 2003
I often think back to my salvation experience, the serene peace of the days that followed, and the wonder of having been freed from a rebellious lifestyle. But I also remember my first major post-conversion eruption of selfish pride. I was a Christian now, I wasn't supposed to be prideful! Suddenly I felt I was teetering on the brink of spiritual chaos.
Seeing more sin in my life than ever before, I wrote in my journal, "How many times and in how many ways do I willingly turn my eyes from You, Lord. Discouragement is knocking at my door. My eyes have been turned on myself. There are so many needs around and all I see are my own problems." I felt like God's first failure.
About that time someone suggested I memorize Romans Chapter 6. I was desperate-desperate enough to memorize Scripture. As I ran the verses through my mind during the next few weeks, some very helpful truth started to seep in. I began to realize that the gospel is not just about rescue from trouble. It's about taking on a new identity (vv. 1-8). I saw that, prior to my conversion, I had not been just an independent person who happened to be a sinner. Like every other non-Christian, I was enslaved by sin. Sin had owned me with an ironclad deed. In receiving Christ I was not simply being forgiven, I was being bought by a new owner. I was now a "slave to God" (v. 22). The "free gift" of God (v. 23) was actually his ownership of my life.
It was then that I finally began to understand God's grace. Grace wasn't manifested simply in God's mercy for my abundant failures (as wonderful as that is), but also in a desire and an ability within me to live in "grateful slavery" to God. I saw that the central issue in the Christian's life is no longer "Who am I?" but "Whose I am." This realization brought a security that has remained with me for more than 15 years.
Yet God's purchase of us did not come cheaply. It cost the life of his dear, innocent Son, Jesus. The Cross of Christ establishes God's right of ownership over his people. That ownership has as its goal relationship-worshipful and reverent, yes, but intimate and secure as well: relationship to the glory of God.
The amazing truth of the Cross is that the God who had supreme rights to punish rebellious sinners, instead chose freely to die for them (us). His death did not merely purchase our freedom from the tyranny of sin, it placed us under God's care and in God's family. This is good news. This is the gospel of peace.
As the Apostle Paul tells it: "When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, 'Abba, Father.' So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir" (Gal 4:4-7).
Next time we'll look at what this amazingly good news means for us in all seasons-how the Cross answers the most profound Mystery Questions of Life: past, present, and future.
The Rich Single Life by Andrew Farmer: "The truths contained in The Rich Single Life could revolutionize your understanding of singleness. Andrew Farmer skillfully shows single Christian men and women what a rich and valuable opportunity they have. Just as importantly, he explains how to take full advantage of that opportunity. This book will help you live the single life in all the fullness of God." -Joshua Harris, author and pastor. Available from the Sovereign Grace Store.
The Cross-Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney: Sometimes the most important truths are the easiest to forget. It's time to get back to the starting point of the Christian life - the cross of Christ. Jesus' work on your behalf must be the central motivation for your life and faith - the main thing. "Never lay it aside. Never move on," says C.J. Mahaney, who shows you how to center every day around the cross of Calvary and how to escape the pitfalls of legalism, condemnation, and feelings-driven faith.
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