Most of our New Testament is made up of letters written to churches reminding them of the gospel (the good news that Christ died for sinners). Ever wonder why? Why would “saved” people need to here the gospel of Jesus again? The truth is we never outgrow the gospel. “The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A-Z of Christianity” -Tim Keller.
The fact is, a growing awareness of God’s holiness, and a growing awareness of our own sinfulness, without a growing appreciation for the gospel, is hurtful. The picture below illustrates this well. Notice what happens when we don’t increase our view of the gospel (the cross). We try to fill the growing gap with performance (religion, moralism, self-justification, legalism, pride) and/or pain (guilt, fear, shame, insecurity, despair).
The picture below illustrates Christianity WITH a growing understanding of the gospel. In this picture we see an ever increasing appreciation of the gospel (the cross) as we further our knowledge of God’s holiness and our own sinfulness.
The Christian life becomes a struggle when we don’t focus the gospel and it’s far reaching implications. We think the benefits of the gospel are limited to when we pass from this life to the next. But the gospel gives us freedom from our past, power of the present, AND hope for the future. The gospel not only saves us (John 3:16, Romans 10:13), but also progressively sanctifies us, allowing us to be “transformed…from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18). Performance and pain are now replaced by worship, a realization of the grace (unearned favor) that has been afforded to us, and a pursuit of holiness out of thankfulness.
Now, if you’re reading all of this and are thoroughly confused, don’t worry. It’s probably my lack of explanation more than your inability to understand. Please, shoot me an email and let’s get together and talk about this. There’s nothing I want more than to help ppl apply the gospel to our lives.