Gospel Importance Pt.3: Centrality Pt.1

This is the third post in our Gospel Importance series. Gospel Importance Pt.1, Gospel Importance Pt.2

This is where I want to spend most of my time. So, I’ve decided to break this last part of Gospel Centrality into 2 parts. How does the Gospel continue to impact the lives of believers? Why does Paul continually remind those who are believing of the Gospel? We know that the Gospel is God’s power to convert unbelieving sinners, but I want to focus on how and why the Gospel is (or should be) at the center of our lives as Christians.

It looks like a long post, but a lot of it will be Scripture. I want us to see this in the Word. I want us as Christians to see God’s power at work in the Gospel to keep believers. Oh, that we would be able to plumb the depths of God’s wisdom, grace, mercy, love, and righteousness in His Gospel. I want us to see why we never outgrow the Gospel, we only dive deeper into the Gospel.

[1] Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, [2] and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. [3] For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, [4] that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, ESV)

Paul is writing to believers-Christians. This seems to be a habit of his. He said to the believers in Rome that he wanted to come and preach the Gospel to them (Rom. 1:16). There are, I believe, at least two reasons he does this. The first is to remind them of the content of the Gospel–making sure they stand firm in the true Gospel. The second is to remind us of who God is, who we are, and all He has done for us in the Gospel. Remembering, meditating on, and growing in our understanding of the Gospel is to be at the center of who we are. It is the power from which we live our daily lives.

Several images come to mind as I think about how this might look. The first set of images shows how the Gospel affects us from the core of who we are, changes us, and gives us power to do the things and be the people God has called us to do and be. The third may be a bit silly, but came to mind as I though about power coming from our core (without which we couldn’t live), driving all our actions.

Why remember and focus on the Gospel?

The Gospel Saves Us

[1]…which you received… (1 Corinthians 15:1)

[12] But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12, ESV)

[21] For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV)

As we ponder the Gospel we are reminded that we are no longer under God’s wrath. The penalty for our sin has been paid in full. We don’t have to live with our guilt, condemnation, and self-pity. If God in Christ has forgiven us we can rest in His promises. This also helps us extend forgiveness to those who have sinned against us and offer God’s forgiveness to unbelievers.

The Gospel Keeps Us

[1]…in which you stand… (1 Corinthians 15:1)

The Greek verb (hē’-stā-mē) translated “stand” means “to cause or make stand.” The Gospel gives us the power to continue standing in the Gospel! If we are truly saved, we cannot get “unsaved.” He has promised Himself to us forever. He won’t withdraw His salvation from us because we still struggle with indwelling sin. This is the essence of covenant love.

Yes, we recognize that we were created in Christ to do good works (Ephesians 2:10), but our standing before God isn’t based on those works (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Christian life is one of simultaneous work and rest. We work in the strength Christ supplies as we rest in the salvation Christ supplies.

[27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. [28] I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. [29] My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. [30] I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30, ESV)

The Gospel Frees Us

[2]… by which you are being saved… (1 Corinthians 15:2)

[6] And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6, ESV)

It frees us from the power of sin and will ultimately one day free us from the presence of sin. There was a point in time when we were regenerated (born again) and sealed with the Holy Spirit. And one day we will have complete and total salvation from sin and its effects. Until then we live in the “Already but, not yet.” We are already saved, but the fullness of our salvation has not yet been realized.

We are no longer prisoners or slaves of sin, forced to do what it wants. We have been given power over sin by the Holy Spirit through faith in the Gospel. We are being conformed to the likeness of Christ through the Gospel.

It’s God’s Power to Save All Who Believe and Are Believing

[16] For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes… (Romans 1:16, ESV)

[9] because, 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. (Romans 10:9, ESV)

[17] So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.(Romans 10:17, ESV)

The Gospel is God’s power to save or give faith to unbelievers, but it is also His power to save believers. The word “believe” in Rom. 1:16 is in the present active tense, so the verse could read “for everyone who is believing. Believers need to hear and trust in the Gospel as much as unbelievers do!

We can have confidence that when we share the Gospel, some will believe. The Message is the power of God, not our polished presentation of it. We do want to understand and present the true Gospel well, but realize the Holy Spirit brings them to faith, not us.

I love how Donald Whitney said it: “Sharing the Gospel is like walking around during a thunderstorm handing out lightning rods. You never know when or where lightning will strike, but you do know what it will strike-the lightning rod of the Gospel. We don’t know who or when He will save, but we know He will use the Gospel to do it.”

We Get Distracted

[3] For I delivered to you as of first importance… (1 Corinthians 15:3)

It’s easy to get distracted from the Gospel. Unfortunately, the ministry that derives its power from the Gospel can so quickly veer from its centrality. The context of the verse above is set at the end of a long section of 1 Corinthians where Paul lays out a lot of doctrine (beliefs about specific topics) and ecclesiology (rules or guidelines for Christian worship). These things are very important otherwise Paul wouldn’t have spent a lot time giving us direction and instruction in them. We all too easily get caught up into thinking that the specifics are of first importance. We tend, at times, to major on the minors.

Not only do you and I get distracted with the “things of the church,” but we also get distracted in our daily lives. It’s easy for us to forget the bearing and impact the Gospel has on every decision we make. It’s easy to forget the Gospel when we have to discipline and correct crazy kids all day long. It’s easy to forget the Gospel when we have project deadlines at work that are stressing us out. It’s easy to forget the Gospel when we’re tempted to spend more than we should on that new trinket that we think will satisfy. We are forgetful creatures, prone to seek love and meaning in the things of this world.

Most things you and I think about throughout the day are common or unimportant. Some things are important. Few things are very important. But the Gospel is crucial-of first importance! We need to get it right and think about it often!

Gospel Importance Pt. 4: Centrality

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