THE GOSPEL & CHANGED LIVES
This may seem familiar as you read it. That’s because I posted this about a year ago. I was reading through it the other day and liked what I wrote. So here it goes again. I hope you enjoy it.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
The centerpiece of the New Testament, and of grace, is the Gospel; the focal point of the Gospel is Jesus Christ; the call of the Gospel is salvation; the predestined outcome of salvation is transformation. We too often see salvation as God's finished work, when in reality it is the starting point of our life in Him. Some people feel good about themselves simply because, at some moment in their life, they prayed a prayer of repentance and settled into the comfort of being "saved and on my way to heaven." All the while, they missed the fact that God had so much more for them to do, or more importantly, to BE.
That brings us to Romans 8:28-30,
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
This gives us a sense that God has a grand design for our lives that goes well beyond just surviving, but into the realm of abundance of life. The relevancy of the Gospel is not established in the church house, nor is it destroyed in the courthouse, nor disproved in the schoolhouse. The rise or fall of the Gospel is revealed in the lives of those who have been touched by it's power to redeem and transform. The marketplace becomes the testing place and battleground of the efficacy of the Gospel. When the scripture speaks of us becoming new creatures or a new creation, it is no light matter. The big picture is that God said "I will make all things new," and the redeemed stand at the center of that picture.
To see the Gospel in any other light would minimize the work of our Lord Jesus Christ and make it nothing more than a get out of jail free card. It would then nullify and neuter the message of the church, and we would stand irrelevant, both to the world and to God. At that point we truly become nothing more than the "religious right" or the "moral majority" or the evangelical caucus. We are called to be more than a political, or even a social movement, we are the Church! As the church, if we look for our identity out from under the hand of God or outside the transforming power of the Gospel as our message, we will settle for protesting or picketing as an alternative to changed lives.
I truly believe that God is calling His church to "new life", not just to some cosmetic, superficial makeover. Religion can do that, self determination can do that, self help speakers or books can do that. Only God can transform and make new. We work so hard at being so much less than what God has purposed for us. We are "predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son." That simply means that God has already decided that, if you are His child, you are going to be like Jesus. There really is no other option. You can either cooperate or rebel against the process, but please be aware, the process will continue. God's Word and God's Spirit are the only agents of that kind of transformation, and that transformation is the only way we can possibly fulfill God’s design for our lives.
I have believed and taught for many years that the way the church will reach a lost world is one on one. My mantra has long been that the only God some people will ever know is the God they see in us. This, of course, requires a radical transformation of our lives.
Let me leave you with an awesome thought. The potential that is in you, that is in us, the church, can be vividly seen in two of the most staggering verses of scripture in all of God's Word.
The first is Ephesians 3:19b. It speaks of being "filled with all the fullness of God." Think about it.
The second is 2 Peter 1:4. It refers to being "partakers (partners) of divine nature." Think about it.
Consider the power of those verses and envision what that would look like working in you. Let me encourage you, no, let me challenge you, to submit yourself to the work of God in your life. To become more sensitive to what God wants to show you and tell you, and then to be obedient to His voice and leadership. Thereby, TRANSFORMED!!
Now, go and make a difference in someones life.