Lately the recurring theme in and around my life has been the gospel. It has come at me from every angle- sermons, books, videos, etc, but it is coming with a fresh perspective. An essential perspective that I’ve overlooked for too long.
I recently finished How People Change by Paul David Tripp and Timothy Lane. It is categorized as a biblical counseling book. It’s essentially on how God changes people from who we were before salvation to people he wants us to be, mainly focusing on the heart.
Chapter 1 is called “The Gospel Gap.” His premise is that for most of us Christians, there is a gaping whole in the middle of the gospel. We all understand what the gospel did (cleansed us from our sins) and we know the future benefits of the gospel (go to heaven someday) but we don’t know the everyday, right-here-right-now implications of the gospel. How does the fact that Jesus paid the penalty for my sins by dying on the cross and raising back to life affect me RIGHT NOW? How does this affect me when I take our car into the shop and am told that the repairs are going to take a while and cost me more than I can afford? How does the gospel affect me when I’m tired from a late night and just want to relax but my wife wants me to do the dished? Is there any practical correlation between the two events: JESUS’ DEATH & LIFE and MY STRUGGLE?
That is the gap in the gospel. Even after reading the book I’ve been thinking about how these go together. We, by and large, don’t know how these two events correlate. And to find the correlation we have to back track a little. In order for the gospel to have an affect on your daily life, you have to first address the issue of idolatry.
FACT #1: WE ALWAYS WORSHIP. Idolatry, as defined in Romans 1:25, is “exchanging the truth of God for a lie and worshiping a created thing rather than the creator.” Idols are not always bad things, they are, as Mark Driscoll puts it “Good things, made into God things, and they become bad things.” Humans were made to worship; we are unceasingly worshiping–the question is “WHAT are you worshiping.”
FACT # 2: WE WANT FUNCTIONAL SAVIORS. We worship things that we believe can act as functional saviors. We want salvation– we want happiness, fulfillment, purpose, satisfaction, joy, etc. So we turn to things that can offer us some kind of practical salvation in our daily lives. For some of us, our HELL is a life of obscurity in the background, where no one notices us. Our SAVIOR is popularity and influence. Our MEANS of attaining our savior is manipulation and cutting corners. For some girls, their HELL is being called ugly. Their SAVIOR is the adulation and complements of other people. Their MEANS of attain their savior is by dressing skimpy and spending money on clothes. Men may think HELL is a life without being able to satisfy sexual desires. Their SAVIOR is sex. Their MEANS of attaining their savior is pornography or a immoral relationship. Popularity and influence are not bad. Adulation and complements are not bad. Sex is not bad. But when GOOD things become GOD things, they’re BAD things. And the way you know that they’ve become your functional savior is this: you feel like you need it and you can’t live without it.
FACT #3: WE WANT SALVATION. We are all searching for salvation–our IDOLS are what we think will get us that fulfillment, satisfaction, happiness, joy, and purpose we so badly desire.
FACT #4: SIN COMES FROM IDOLATRY. All sin comes from our idolatry. The idols that we set up in our heart cause us to worship things that are not God. And that’s where all sin comes from– I won’t lie if I am worshiping God, because if I’m worshiping God that means I’m not worshiping my reputation, and the reason that people lie is usually to protect their reputation.
So ALL sin comes from misplaced worship: idolatry.
And the way to conquer idolatry is to uncover the lie of the idol. Remember Romans 1:25. The first thing idolaters do is “exchange the truth of God for a lie.” Every idol lies the same way, saying “worship me and I will give you what you need.”
The gospel is your iconoclast. The gospel is fashioned to destroy idols. And the gospel does this with three truths:
1) Jesus has, through the gospel, given you “life abundantly in Christ” which is more satisfying that any idol.
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 But you have to “taste and see” for yourself to believe me. I can’t convince you that it’s more satisfying that all other idols.
2) Jesus has, through the gospel, given you every resources you need
“His divine nature has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” and “No temptation has overtaken you except that is common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide a way of espcape, that you may be able to endure it.” Because Jesus conquered sin, we are free from it.
3) Jesus has, through the gospel, secured a future for you.
This works two ways: First, it’s the promise that God will not leave us all alone to live, but will continually be working on our sanctification day in and day out. Every dilemma should be looked from the perspective that “God is using this for my good and His glory! He’s using it to turn me into a person more like Jesus.” Second, it’s the promise that God already has a final destination for us. “Our citizenship is in heaven.” says Paul. We’re all taken care of, and no matter what happens in this life, we can live in hope and joy of the unmoving promise of heaven.
And that is why the gospel is essential for all of life. It gives me the fullest life, it gives me everything I need for life, and it secures a future for me in this life and the next.
Those three truths are freeing.
And all you have to do is receive Jesus by faith. Wow!