Confident In the Gospel

May 2018
 
By Jeremiah Krieger
 
Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
 
Last fall I attended a board meeting for the Rocky Mountain Church Network. It was there I learned during a devotional time that the verse that ignited the ministry of Martin Luther was Romans 1:16. It became his life verse. It was one of the scriptures that started the Reformation.
 
Embedded in Romans 1:16 is the answer to the questions of why we gather and why we do what we do as a church. Our very purpose for gathering together and the very reason we do what we do is because of the Gospel. The Gospel is that we have salvation because of the faithfulness of Christ alone. It paved the road for the justification of the believer. It is by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, based on the authority of Scriptures alone, and for the glory of God alone that we are saved. Nothing else.
 
The pulse of Luther’s heartbeat became for the purity of the Gospel. The Gospel alone is the power for salvation. It is a power that belongs to God. It is the instrument that he has used to bring salvation and hope to those who believe.
The Gospel is also the container that holds God’s power. As Moses lifted up the Serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21) so that those who gazed upon it would be spared from death, so also has Jesus’ body been lifted up on the tree so that those who gaze upon it will be healed and spared from God’s wrath.
 
The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:8-9 that the formula for salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing else. It is a gift of God. It is the power of God and not ours. When we accept salvation it is a gift (John 3:16). Our only part is to believe it, and we receive it into our life. Jesus has done the work. No outside influence can promise us what is guaranteed to us solely through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
 
We live in a day and age where the Church is facing some of the same pressures at the time of Luther. I would argue that this pressure is so great that we need another Reformation in the Church, because the Church has let the Gospel message become retarded through the influence of society. My heart breaks daily for the increasing number of churches that seem to be caving to the pressures of society to redefine good and evil or to pursue man-centered methodologies to grain a crowd instead of winning outsiders the with the love of Christ.
 
Churches across America and the world are abandoning sound doctrine that has been the bedrock foundation of the Church since its inception. There is incredible pressure in American churches like never before to embrace a false gospel.
 
The cost is rising to cling to our faith. In fact, if we hold fast to the Gospel, in our rapidly changing culture we might increasingly find ourselves alone in this world. Yet, we will never be alone. Jesus is always with us. He will never leave us or forsake us, and what we suffer for the sake of the Gospel is worth it because of the future we have in Christ.
 
This is not a time when the Church can shrink back and try to broaden the gate to heaven by adopting policies of the world. Christ is the only gatekeeper, and there is nothing outside of Him that is worthy to offer to people whose deepest need is Christ.
 
The Church isn’t called to be a social club to appease the social demands of government or society. We love and serve our society and government. We are to be influencers in their midst by speaking the truth in love and modeling it to the world. When we abandon the Gospel, we abandon Christ.
 
A gathering without the Gospel is just a gathering. It might be called a church, but it is not a Church that has anything to do with Jesus. It is not a church that has power to change lives. The power to change lives is contained in the Gospel. It is the power of God. There is nothing to be ashamed of when we live and operate in His power.
 
We need reformation in our culture, but first we must have reformation in our church. We need reformation in our own hearts. Until the Gospel has become the primary focus and passion of our life and ministry, how can we have anything that will offer hope to this world?
 
If we want to see culture changed it has to begin with each person in this church. Do we live Cross-centered lives? Is our deepest passion and yearnings rooted in the Gospel? Do we care more about exalting the risen Jesus than our personal preferences?
 
When the Gospel has reached us and when we have embraced it into our life, the evidence shows in how we love one another. It shows itself in the words we speak to others. It radiates through God’s people seeking to out-serve each other. That’s what will distinctly mark us in our culture.
 
As I write this, I wonder where the Cross aligns in my own life. What is at the center of my life? How often do I use the personal pronoun, “I?” Is it in pursuit of my own selfishness: “But I want..but I deserve…well, I don’t like..?” How about you? How does the Cross align in your life? Is it at the center?
 
Oh how often is our selfishness at the center of our life instead of the cross of Christ! We can lament with the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”
 
May God help us to prize the cross and to be ashamed of man-centered worship and personal exaltation that is at the root of ministries that are weak. I pray that Christ will be our confidence as we continue on in this world and wait for Christ’s glorious appearance in the clouds. Let’s be confident in the Gospel and put it at the center of our lives. It is God’s power to change your life and mine.
 
God bless you,
Pastor Jeremiah