Week 10: The Gospel
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:1-9
Ephesians 2:1-9 is a clear description of the Gospel. It tells of our condition and what Christ Jesus has done on our behalf.
We are now 10 weeks into this year of deepening, and I thought it would be a good idea to revisit, and rehearse, and re-preach the gospel to ourselves.
You see, you and I never graduate from the gospel. The gospel is not the ABCs of Christianity, it is the A to Z of what it means to be in Christ Jesus. Too many Christians can falsely believe that as you grow deeper in your walk with Jesus, then you move beyond the gospel.
To move away from the gospel is to move away from the cross and resurrection of Jesus. A DEEP relationship with Jesus will always be DEEPLY rooted in the gospel. The gospel is shallow enough for a child to wade in and deep enough for a giant to dive into.
You see, Ephesians 2 begins with our condition without Christ. We were dead. The gospel does not teach that we were bad…but dead. The gospel is not, “God is good, you are bad, try harder.” The gospel is not that bad people do better by their own effort, but that the spiritually dead are brought to life by the effort of Jesus at the cross.
Good news enters into bad places and the first few verses are pretty dark. Paul uses words like dead, disobedience and children of wrath to describe our condition before Christ.
Then come two of the most hope-filled words in the Bible: “BUT GOD.” That’s right, not because we did anything to change the situation or garner God’s attention because we decided to make a change, but because of God’s rich mercy and great love He decided to change us. He sent his Son to do for us what we could never do on our own. Jesus took our place on the cross and died the death that we had earned.
And He did not stop there. He conquered sin and death by being resurrected from the tomb and then credited to us His perfect life. Therefore, Ephesians says we are raised up and seated with Him in heavenly places. That’s just the Bible’s way of saying that our salvation is secure through the finished work of Christ and that we have been given or imputed His righteousness.
Now knowing this truth of the gospel for you is key to deepening your relationship with Jesus for at least two reasons: gratitude and grace.
May we never forget that we have been saved from our own sin. May we never ever forget the depths of depravity of which He has rescued us. And as you remind yourself that you are a sinner saved by grace then you should be overcome by gratitude.
I mean, who am I that the Sovereign King of the Universe would come on a rescue mission for me? What kind of King leaves His throne for a traitor? I’ll tell you, the kind of King that is rich in mercy and full of love. Church, when is the last time you have reflected on God’s gift of salvation in your life?
Are you overwhelmed with gratitude? You should be.
And not only that, the gospel keeps the grace of God in focus for us. It is by grace that we have been saved, through faith. There is no other reason. This means that the performance trap is over. Do you know, it is nearly impossible to develop a deep and abiding relationship with someone that you think you have to perform for. That you can never really rest in that kind of relationship because you are always on and you are always being judged. The gospel creates an entirely different relational dynamic with God. The performing and the pretending are over at the cross – IT IS FINISHED!
Now, you and I can just “be” with the Great I Am.
Because of what Jesus has done, now our right standing with God is not based on what we can do to earn His approval. This is the kind of environment where true love can really flourish. That we can respond to God’s love toward us with love. I promise, that as your gratitude for your salvation and your understanding of God’s grace spelled out in the gospel increases - - that your relationship with Him will deepen.
And so Church, may you never, ever, ever, ever graduate from the gospel. But may you dive deeper, deeper, deeper and deeper into the gospel knowing it will deepen your relationship with Him.