I really enjoy sharing the Gospel. I don’t do that much, at least not as much as I think I should. Sometimes I don’t because I lack opportunity. Often, I’d rather just sit down with a Christian guy during discipleship and dig into their lives or read a good book. Or I feel too awkward to have that conversation with a random person in a restaurant.
The thing is, once I begin sharing my faith and talking about Jesus, I really enjoy it. It is fun and life-giving, and really not that awkward. The thing is, when I share the Gospel with someone else, i wind up sharing it with myself too! I get to hear that wonderful good news again too and get dwell on all of God’s good mercies and grace to us. When i proclaim Christ to someone else, my own heart is awakened to the wonderful reality and exceedingly good news of the gospel – of what Jesus has done for me!
Of course, i get to see God work in someone’s life often. People begin thinking about God, or become comforted or even give their live over to Jesus.
In the past 2 weeks, I have been able to share about Christ with a good amount of students. In several instances, almost each of them, though coming from christian families and going to church often and meeting with us because of an eager desire to be part of a christian organization- nearly every person, failed to grasp the breadth of the gospel. Perhaps they said follow Jesus or obey Jesus’ teachings but at the root, many said if they were good enough, they would be saved.
One guy even said (and others implied) Jesus died to forgive us of our sin (correct), so if we do more good than bad, then we will be saved (incorrect).
Truth to be told, I don’t think I understood the wonderful doctrine of imputation for a long time either, even beyond college. In fact, even after I joined staff, yea, even this summer reading the Man Christ Jesus, my understanding was further expanded. So, perhaps I should not be so surprised. Indeed, it has made me wonder, how many of you have ever grappled with this for yourself.
The Good News of the Gospel isn’t just the Jesus died to forgive you of your sins. The Good News includes (among many other good things) that Jesus lived a perfect sinless life as well, and gives you His righteousness, when you believe in Him.
It is sometimes called the doctrine of imputation. It is a fun word to say, and may make you sound or feel smarter saying it. But the good news isn’t that you appear smarter or appear more righteous, but indeed in fact, in Christ, we are righteous.
We are not more righteous, we are righteous. That is, it is not like an upgrade, it is not that i am a better person than someone else now. I have been given the righteousness of Christ. Jesus does not make a path considerably easier, He is the way, He is our righteousness.
This is not to say I no longer need or want to pursue righteousness. In fact, this truth frees me and empowers me and even encourages me to become more like Christ.
Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve. Grace is giving us something we do not.
Jesus not only forgives our sins. Jesus gives us His righteousness. Jesus didn’t just die for us, He lived for us!
And that is why Ephesians 2:8-9 may seem like an easy out, but actually quite difficult for many to accept. To accept it, means i must completely rely on the work of Christ, rather than myself. IT is to admit i am not good enough or strong enough to merit God’s favor- no matter how much i try, I can’t do it. It is also saying to Christ, I am going to trust that what You did was enough.
We asked someone to explain those verses today and he responded “God is saying to not take advantage of His grace.” I said “While it is true we don’t want to abuse His grace, this verse actually seems to say to not miss out on taking advantage of His grace. It is offered, take it!”
The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is a hard concept to grasp. It is mystical to be sure. How does this happen? How do i just obtain His righteousness? This is where faith comes in. I have to trust what God’s Word says.
When Jesus died on the cross my sin was laid on Him, but also when i trust Him, He gives me His righteousness – it is the Great exchange! And a pretty good deal for us! (Kind of like when the Pacers traded Paul George for Victor Olidapido- OKC got rid of a terrible contract, and received one of the best players in the NBA).
In college someone said it this way- Jesus didn’t die just to return us to the garden of Eden and give us a fresh start. No He did more – Now, we get to heaven.
The Gospel isn’t just a mulligan. The Gospel isn’t merely a fresh start. The good news of the gospel is so much ‘gooder’ than that! It goes beyond that. My relationship with God is secure! His love for me will never, ever end. I can not lose my relationship with Him! Nothing I do! or can do! Will separate me from the love of God. Even just writing about this gets me excited.
See, a few months ago, we adopted our daughter Paige. Right now she loves me. She gets super excited when i come home from work and yells out “Daddy! Daddy!” But she may not always feel that way. Down the line she may not see that we don’t look alike, and perhaps she won’t want to listen to me- our other daughter feels this way already at 6- but no matter what- She will never stop being my daughter. It is official. We have the papers. Her name was officially changed and her birth certificate and everything. It doesn’t say used to be named this. It says she is our daughter. Her name is Paige Hope James.
The same goes for our biological daughter Halle. She often hates us these days. She fights us and disobeys and literally tries to hurt us. To be honest, for us she can sometimes be difficult to like. Her actions and words and choices are certainly discouraging and devestating.
But I never stop loving her. Even when I want to, I can’t. I get so angry, but I can’t stop loving her. My patience boils over and I lose it, but I never lose my desire to love and protect her and bless her.
God’s love for me is so much greater than this. I am very imperfect. I am perhaps the worst dad in the world. I know i am pretty bad at least. God is our perfect Father. And since we are seen as Christ, we are not just treated as forgiven friend, we are indeed the children of God! We have been adopted into His family! And that will never stop.
I asked someone what difference this would make, and he said “probably none. I’d still feel bad when i sinned…”
I responded “Yeah, I can see that. It is perhaps right to feel that way… but what did Adam & Eve do when they sinned? What was their reaction when God came?” They ran away, they hid. “Right, but since Christ has taken away all our sin, and we no longer have to earn our way to God- we no longer need to live in shame or live in fear. We can always come to God. He is always there with open arms.”
The Gospel frees us. I am completely accepted and fully loved. I will still sin, but when I do, i don’t need to hide from God, My relationship is secure. And because of that, it allows me to grow with God and pursue Him and know Him. And oh! What wonderful news that is.