The Apostle Paul, in 1st Corinthians 15, says the Gospel is “of first importance.” This infers there are varying degrees of importance to biblical topics.
What does Paul ascribe as the most important though? Is it tongues? Is it gifts? Is it tithing? Is it how to dress?
No, he simply says it’s the Gospel! The good news of Jesus is of first importance. Christ’s’ death, burial, and resurrection, he infers are supposed to be at the center of our lives for utmost joy and intimacy with our Creator.
Is it for you? Below are some penetrating questions for self-examination. Let us continue to fall on our knees and rely not on our own behavior, but His saving work on the Cross.
As Tim Keller says, “The Gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian faith, it is the A-Z.” You want more intimacy with God?
Push into the Gospel. You struggle with sin? Push into the Gospel.
You desire more of Jesus?
Push into the Gospel.
—When I sin or fall where do I run? If the gospel is ruling I will run to Him, if self-righteousness is ruling, I clean myself up for a few days and then come back to him as if I somehow am worthy now. He makes us clean, not our behavior.
(1st john 1:9, Psalm 32:5, Proverbs 28:13)
—If the gospel is ruling I will have humble confident joy, if self-righteousness is ruling I will either be prideful or in despair.
(Romans 15:13, Galatians 5:22-23)
—If the gospel is ruling I will see others above myself, if self-righteousness is ruling I will see myself above others. Disciples fought over the throne, but we should fight over the towel (What Jesus washed their feet with).
(Philippians 2:3-11, John 13:1-17)
—If the gospel is ruling I will love people and have compassion on them, if self-righteousness is ruling I will have no compassion, I’ll passover people’s needs, and be like the religious person in the “Good Samaritan” story.
(1st John 4:20)
–If the gospel is ruling I will have a proper understanding of the order of the doctrines of justification (made right with God forever) and sanctification (growing to be more like Him), if self-righteousness is ruling I will confuse them. We are made right, and then we grow, not try to grow and then we will be made right.
(Romans 5:1, Gal 2:16)
—If the gospel is ruling I will have assurance of salvation because I realize my salvation rests on Christ’s finished work that cannot change; if self-righteousness or hidden sin is ruling I will have a tough time having assurance. The question isn’t “Can I lose my salvation?” The question is “can God lose me?” which He can’t.
(Romans 8:30, Romans 5:20, Romans 8:16, Jeremiah 32:40, Hebrews 8:10)
—If the gospel is ruling I will continue to fix my eyes on Jesus, if self-righteousness is ruling I will look to myself and inner thoughts/feelings to justify myself. Our standing with God is solely external. Our feelings are feeble, He is not.
(John 3:14-15, Numbers 21:1-4, Hebrews 12:1-2)
—What can be taken from me that’d be the most devastating? What would most rock me to my core if it failed, broke, or was taken from me? If the gospel is ruling, God should be the answer, if self-righteousness is ruling other things are the answer. This is a lifelong battle, but we must continue to strive daily to worship the Creator, not the creation. The minute you put God’s things above God, you’ve strayed from the gospel.
(Matthew 7:24-27, Psalm 73:25-26)
—If the gospel is ruling it will affect every facet of my life and there will be no divide between secular or sacred, if self-righteousness is ruling Jesus will be compartmentalized, a section of the pie, and you will divide the secular and the sacred. Jesus invades all of our life, Religion just invades our Sundays.
(Colossians 3:17, 1st Cor 10:31)
So, is the gospel affecting your daily life? Are you living in light of His death, burial, and resurrection? The common theme in the above questions is self vs. Jesus. The easiest way to decipher is ask, “Who gets the glory from this? Who is on display? Who is made much of? Me or Him?” Let’s strive to answer those questions with Him! Our joy and His glory are inseparable. We give Him the glory, we get the joy.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”
Gospel: The teachings of Jesus Christ.
“Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
Jesus taught us to introspect. Our relationship with God is 2 sided.
He gives us Grace, which is His heart, His very Self, and we receive it. We can choose to give him our heart, which is our devotion, our very self, and He receives it. This is a loving relationship.
Yet we find ourselves without love daily. And we find ourselves seeking love (water of life) in dry sandy places. It is because we forget the teaching of Jesus Christ. “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
I sin daily, I hide my heart from the Lord daily, and I do claim His property as my own and try to get his servants – who are my brothers – to serve me. I am wicked, or self righteous, but always selfish.
So friends, you have repented, and received Grace. But let us not become complacent. I encourage you to drink again and again of this water. Only by steady hydration can dehydration and its effects be cured. And the effect of dehydration is hallucinations and you seek water in dry sandy places.
Let us repent always for our sins, and be ever mindful and introspective. If I see my fault, that I am not loving, and I know that Jesus loves me still, then I will tear down the wall which I have built around my heart, and I will receive Grace, because Grace is there waiting for me.
This is my part in the relationship, to receive Grace, and to be devoted even though I am imperfect.
So Lord I pray that you always show me my imperfections, and remind me that you love me despite them.
“Give us this day our daily bread”.
- Jeff Bethke