Written By Bob Schindler, Chief Operating Officer of CEDE SPORTS
Being Gospel Centered – Part 5
Who is the Gospel for?
Who is the Gospel for? Ask that question to a group of Christians and most of them would answer – “non-believers.” Ask a follow up question, “Why do non-believers need the gospel?” A typical answer would be, “To deliver them from the penalty of sin and get them into heaven.” From this perspective, the gospel is a two-chapter story – Fall and Consummation (Heaven).
The apostle Paul had a different perspective. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16) Paul says the gospel is for everyone, not just for non-believers.
“Why is the gospel for everyone?” you might ask. The gospel is for everyone because it brings salvation to everyone. This salvation, this deliverance, come to everyone who believes – present tense.
The Power of God in Redemption
Certainly, the gospel delivers non-believers from the penalty of sin, but it also saves believers from the power of sin. As believers, we still struggle with the power of sin in our lives. Every day. All through every day. Therefore, we need the power of God. We need the power of God to deliver us from the power of sin. Believing, present tense, ongoing, is the key to experiencing the power of God to save us from the power of sin.
Pause for a moment. Think about this reality in your life. Do you see your struggle against the power of sin? Do you recognize that battle even going on in you today? This battle is where we need the gospel.
Recognizing this reality adds the Redemption chapter to the gospel. Longing for freedom from this battle takes us to Consummation, where we will finally be free from the presence of sin and this battle.
Creation is added to the story when we see that God designed us to live differently. In this design, we were intended to be honored image bearers who would act as God’s representatives on earth, fulfilling his plans by bringing out the treasures in creation in communion with one another and with God.
This is the design from which we fell, the Fall chapter of the Gospel. In our pride, foolishness, and rebellion, we rejected God’s good plan for our own, where we thought we could experience all the goodness of the creation without the Creator as our Head. We live with the results of that foolish and rebellious decision today. Look around you. All the corruption – the disease, the evil, the corruption – is a result of that decision and the myriads of others just like it that humans have made since then, including you and me.
However, God promises, on the heels of that rebellion, to one day restore that good design for creation and for us. God worked throughout the ages, primarily through the nation of Israel, to fulfill that plan that climaxed in the arrival of His Son, the Hero of the story, who, by his death and resurrection, would usher in our deliverance from the penalty of sin and empower us for our battle with the power of sin, along with the redemption from all the corruption in creation that God promised.
A Four Chapter Story
With this perspective in mind, we have a four-chapter story – Creation, Fall, Redemption, Consummation. Paul writes Ephesians from this perspective. He shows us who we were in the Fall – dead in our trespasses and sins (2:1), who we are in Redemption – alive together with Christ 2:4, sons and daughters of God (1:4), redeemed heirs (1:7, 1:14), awaiting our inheritance and our full redemption (1:14) in the Consummation when God “brings all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” (1:10)
While we wait, in Ephesians Paul acknowledges our struggle with sin and our need of the gospel in that struggle. As he tells us to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received” (4:1) as sons and daughters, as members of God’s household, united with Christ, he acknowledges the tendency to live like we used to live, succumbing to the battle with sin (4:17-19). He goes on to tell us how to experience the power of the gospel to overcome this tendency. We are to “put off the old self…to be made knew in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”(4:22-24)
In other words, we are to preach the gospel to ourselves and embrace the truths of that gospel to walk in God’s power to live out our calling.
Easier Said Than Lived
While this is simple in principle, it is very challenging in practice. It is challenging to acknowledge the allure sin still has to us, the depth of our struggle with overcoming sin, and the doubt we still have to the gospel’s truth and power.
However, the challenge will lead us deeper and deeper into the gospel as we embrace it. We will journey deeper and deeper into our relationship with God, our union with Christ, our experience of God’s love and power, and our longing for the freedom promised in the gospel.
Who is the gospel for? Everyone.
Who needs the gospel? We all do.
Why do we all need the gospel? To to deliver us from the power of sin that is so deeply rooted in our lives.