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Do Christians need the Gospel too?


By stephen - Posted on 20 June 2011

For all Christians, the Gospel is a message to believe. After all, it’s the ‘Good News’ about Jesus and how one can be ‘saved’. Having believed the Gospel, it’s assumed (for some) that the Gospel is now behind them.

Having been ‘saved’ it’s now up to them to live a Christian life and demonstrate to God that, by their efforts, they can please Him and live up to His standards (e.g. keep the 10 Commandments; be a good Christian person and not smoke or drink).

The Gospel, therefore, is only for non-Christians; not Christians – who should ‘live the Gospel’ so that others can be ‘saved’.

Read on to find out why this is false …

 

What is the Gospel? It’s a message; it is ‘news’. To some it’s good news but to others it is simply ‘news’.

The word ‘gospel’ is not a spiritual word invented by a group of Christians to convey their ‘news’ about Jesus. It’s actually a very common 1st Century word used by all types of people to convey ‘news’.

The early Christians had some news (Gospel) to tell people and it centred on the life, death, resurrection and Person of Jesus of Nazareth.

To them it was ‘good news’ because the message was just fantastic! The news (gospel) informed the everyday person on how they (as ‘lost, rebellious sinners’) could be reconciled to a holy God through Jesus.

 But it was more than that. The ‘news’ (gospel) was so good that it gave people ‘information’ not just about how one could be justified (a legal pronouncement that God delivers a ‘not guilty’ verdict to the followers of Jesus) but of a future hope.

In other words, the gospel is not just about the past (as it relates to Jesus) but also the present (as it relates to Jesus) but also about the future (as it relates to Jesus).

Get the picture!

The Gospel is all about Jesus – it’s not about us! We are not the gospel, we do not primarily feature as anything to do with the ‘good news’ (apart from benefiting BY it by responding TO it) and we certainly do not ‘live the gospel’.

Think about it: how can we 'live the Gospel'? The thought is absurd!

Why? “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.” RC Sproul

I don’t live that. I hear it and I respond to it because it’s not about me doing anything to merit the gift of salvation; it’s about Jesus securing this gift for me. My response is to believe the Gospel (the 'news') and repent; I do not in any way contribute TO the gospel.

“We often hear calls to “live the Gospel,” and yet, nowhere in Scripture are we called to “live the Gospel.” Instead, we are told to believe the Gospel and obey the Law, receiving God’s favor from the one and God’s guidance from the other. The Gospel—or Good News—is not that God will help us achieve his favor with his help, but that someone else lived the Law in our place and fulfilled all righteousness.” Michael Horton

Referring to Christians, Don Carson reminds us that, “Believers must not move away from the hope held out in the gospel (Col. 1:23). Ideally, when that gospel is proclaimed, it is also experienced in power (1 Thess. 1:5) and proclaimed with courage (1 Thess. 2:2), for we have been entrusted with it (1 Thess. 2:4). Those who understand it best want to share not only the gospel but themselves as well (2:8–9). God calls us to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and belief in the truth, calling us to this through the apostolic gospel to the end that we might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess. 2:14). Small wonder Paul wants believers to live in line with sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God (1 Tim. 1:11). This gospel is well worth suffering for (2 Tim. 1:8; Philem. 13); Christ Jesus has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1:10). The gospel can be summarized in a number of ways, but is always deeply Christocentric: for example, “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David, according to my gospel” (2 Tim. 2:8, my translation).

So why do Christians still need the Gospel?

Because we still need Jesus! We still need grace.

We are 'saved'; 'being saved' and still to experience the fullness of our salvation which will only be realised when He returns and we experience 'glorification' (Romans 8.29-30). All our hope comes from ‘outside of ourselves’ and everything is found IN the Person of Jesus and our union with Him. He is our only hope; not our own futile attempts at righteousness - of which we have none (which is why His righteousness is imputed to us). We are THAT helpless and THAT hope-less via our own efforts (works).

But please don’t get me wrong. Obedience (to the Gospel) is obedience to Jesus and this pleases the Lord. But even that is only possible because His Spirit (given to us as a gift) lives in us; which is good news, isn’t it!

So, no matter where we go or what life circumstances we find ourselves in – we always find ourselves clinging to the ‘good news’ because we know that it is the best news we can ever hear - and keep on hearing. There is no ‘news’ like it; because it's news about the Son of God's saving work (John 3.16) AND His keeping work (Hebrews 7.25).

SR Cracknell

RECOMMENDED SERMON (mp3) entitled 'Do Christians Need the Gospel Too?

FURTHER READING (Quotes above can be found in these excellent articles):

What Is the Gospel? by R.C. Sproul

What Is the Gospel?—Revisited by Don Carson (PDF file)

What is the gospel? by DB Knox

Book Review: "The Gospel Driven Life" - a must read!
 

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