Monthly Archives: April 2015

Gospel Rich Life – No more buzz words

It’s funny how this works; I started writing again and now it’s like my head is racing with more!  It was interesting, I got more feedback, opinions and responses from my last blog post from friends, family, and acquaintances than ever before.  Text messages, e-mails and phone calls specifically to vocalize something about it.  And all 90% of the comments etc. were focused on the same sentence in my post:

Our theology directly reflects our identity and what we believe about the content of the Gospel shapes how we feel towards God and how we think God perceives us.

I want to give some context to where this is coming from for me.  Part of my job is the developing college students to be strong leaders in their faith with Jesus.  This is no easy task, especially because I am far from the most equipped or able person to do this job, but nonetheless we are striving to accomplish that task.  This year I have been rediscovering the gospel for myself and my ministry.  More than ever before I’m looking through this lens that filters everything through this idea of a true “Gospel rich life”.  Christian cultures talks a ton about “gospel centrality” and “Jesus is the center”, but what the heck does that look like practically.  Is this just like chemistry, a lot of theory and no idea what parts of our life we can attach this stuff to?(sorry if you like chemistry…not me)  You could also say that a lot of people view theology the same way.  It isn’t important for the average run of the mill person.  I wonder where that started?  I think the point of the Reformation and Martin Luther’s proclamation of the sola’s (sola scripture, sola fides, sola gratis etc.) where a call to rediscover the DEPTHS of God; aka theology!  This isn’t a task for the pastors, and professors of the faith, this is a task for all of us.  Theology literally mean the study of God, so why is the study of God something that not every believer should take seriously?  A dear friend and myself have been developing and really digging into this concept of how the Gospel is the heart beat that pumps to the veins of all aspects of our life.  Is it even possible?

If I was honest, the last 5-6  years I think I lived in the theory of Gospel mathematics.  I could solve any Gospel algorithm on paper, but I wasn’t truly tested in the field.  But the last year the Holy Spirit has been stirring in me a deep passion to see the fruit behind soaking the Gospel in every rag of life.

So I’m going to do something for these next few posts, give you a lens into how this is shaping my life in a way that is exploding worship and confidence in the Christ.  My hope is to break down in palatable terminology what Gospel richness looks like in our lives and how it builds on itself.  In order for us to do that we need to start with the end in mind and define Gospel Richness.

In order to define Gospel richness we have to first clarify what it is not:

1. Gospel richness is not worshipping or striving to exalt the good news of Jesus, but simply worshipping and striving to exalt JESUS.  That’s important.  I fall guilty of at times getting so focused on the “right” gospel and not the right JESUS.  Gospel richness in its essence is explosion of Jesus.  Not Jesus’ work; Jesus.  Let me give you an example, we don’t worship the fact that Jesus healed a man.  We worship Jesus and him healing a man further deepens our worship of Jesus!  We don’t praise the salvation of my soul and remission of my sins, we praise Jesus because he did those things.  Small deviance with MAJOR implications.  So when I say Gospel Rich Life what I mean is a life RICH in Jesus because of his promises, accomplishments, and perfections on our behalf.

2. Gospel richness is not theory and theology ONLY.  Gospel richness is built on the foundation of theology that is the veins that actually gives LIFE to the body parts of the believer!  Gospel richness doesn’t just affect our belief, but rather it re-orients our belief in order to affect our life.

3. Gospel richness is not anything new.  Gospel richness is not something that was created or discovered in the last 10 years.  Gospel richness has been around since the beginning.  This concept is the entire focus of the Bible.  Luther didn’t discover it, he just spearheaded a re-focusing to it.  John Calvin didn’t build it; he simply just talked about it.  Paul didn’t create this, he just wrote about it!  The entire narrative of Scripture Genesis-Revelation is a Gospel rich narrative.

4. Gospel richness is hard and we will fail at it.  This is probably the most important part of the post.  As I’m writing this I fail at saturating myself in the finished work of Christ DAILY.  But that’s what is so counter-intuitively awesome about this concept; I am still eternal secure, and fully righteous and have to do NOTHING to accomplish any more favor, blessing or righteousness to be more gospel rich!  I am already completely rich in the Gospel because of Christ finished work(I would reference one verse but the entire book of Ephesians is about our riches in Christ!).  There is no failure in God’s eyes of us.  He only sees Jesus! Hear that again, He only sees Jesus!  Gospel rich life embodies this idea of “only to the cross I cling” in all matters.  So prepare yourself because to live a Gospel Rich life will make you very small.  So come ready to die.

So now that we know what Gospel richness isn’t, I think giving us a road map of what it looks like and how it builds on itself will help us navigate how to actually let Jesus explode in all areas of our life.  For me I have discovered in order for us to rest in the richness of Jesus because of his promises, accomplishments, and perfections on our behalf we have to break it down.  Over the next posts I will expand on each of these building blocks that have given me a deeper stronghold in Jesus finished work:

  • Gospel Content – Our pursuit, or desire to grip ourselves in Christ starts with the content of how it’s possible.
  • Gospel Identity – Our understanding and belief in the HOW’S of the Gospel directly shape and solidify the WHO we are in the Gospel.
  • Gospel Lifestyle – Our newly shaped identity in the Gospel births forth desire to live in the light because for the first time in our lives we can!
  • Gospel Mission – Our lifestyle of constantly being reminded, reshaped, and refocused on the accomplishments of Christ in our life the more we see the Holy Spirit using it and leveraging those experiences for the mission of the ministry of reconciliation

We see all aspects of this in 2 Corinthians 5:17-21:

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, lwho through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin rwho knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

  • “If anyone is in Christ, he is a a new creation. The old has passed away and the new has come” Gospel Identity
  • “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God as reconciling the world to himself not counting their trespasses against them.” Gospel Content
  • “And entrusting us with the message of reconciliation.” Gospel Mission
  • “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore  you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” Gospel Lifestyle
  • “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Gospel Content

This isn’t something new.  This structure of how the Gospel should and WILL invade all aspects of our life is the design for the sanctification of the believer.  It is said that , “The Gospel isn’t the ABC’s of Christianity – it is the A to Z of Christianity.”  Journey with me as we build on these four aspects of a Gospel Rich life.  But let me clear as I finish; I have these parameters in place not so I can be “better” in my faith with Jesus.  But exactly the opposite!  I use these aspects in my life and ministry so that every day of my life is not about the “I can do” but about “He has done!”

Debt Paid In Full.  Can that sentence alone fuel everything?

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Progress is Overrated

It’s been awhile, like a long time to be exact.  I could use the excuse that I have a 1.5 year old daughter who rules our household and I never have time to do anything for myself.  But that would be a lie.  I wish I could say its because of my travel schedule and there isn’t enough time to sit and really digest what has been going on, but that just isn’t the truth either.

The truth of the matter is that last year I felt more distant in my relationship with God than I have in a long time.  It snuck up on me too and I didn’t even realize it.  With all the changes in my family things got moving so quickly and my intimacy with the Lord was shelved.  Here is the scary part, I didn’t feel like I even needed God because I was fine.  Things weren’t bad.  So if I was really honest, I just didn’t even notice it.

Then I did.  It hit me like a rock when I looked up from the smoke and realized it.  So naturally I decided that something had to change.  I was going to focus, get disciplined, and start taking things seriously with the Lord.  I needed to progress in my relationship with Jesus.  I was distant and if I could just get BACK to where I was with him; I would feel more assured that I’m intimate with Jesus.  I needed to close the gap on my distance between me and God

Back to where I was?  More assued?  Close the gap on the distance from God?

Where did this mindset come from?  Where did this theology come from?  I needed to be washed clean.  I needed a Gospel rich bath to clean off the dirt of “MEology” that was burying me.

I needed to rediscover the Gospel for my weary, drowning, identity distorted soul.  I was desperate for living water, but kept quenching my thirst with more salt.

I was running hard after trying to accomplish a lie.  And I kept failing at it.  Finally I had enough and the Spirit does what He promises; convicts and guides me into righteousness.

If you go back and read my first paragraph I said, “I felt more distant in my relationship with God.” This is why theology is so important!  Our theology directly reflects our identity and what we believe about the content of the Gospel shapes how we feel towards God and how we think God perceives us.  Is it possible for me a believer who has heart has been regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, to positionally be distant from God? I think this is where Paul yells, “By no means!”  Romans 8:39 says otherwise: “nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”.  Nothing.  NOTHING.  NOTHING!

But wait, can’t our sin effect our intimacy with Jesus? Yes. But my sin, my apathy never once has ever affected my distance of nearness to how God perceives me.  I am still His son.  I am still His.  So why do I feel like God is distant from me? Is it because I’m not doing X,Y,Z? “By NO MEANS!”  I feel like God is distant because I have chosen to not believe.  My distance was not a problem between me and God, my problem was between me and my belief.  My feeling of distance was not an action issue, it was a GOSPEL ISSUE.  I had forgotten the simple truth of Christ’s already full purchase of my righteousness and standard with God.  That instantly birthed worship, gratitude, and humility!

And then there was, “if I could just get back to where I was”.  Who is this guy? Why was I believing these lies.  It’s crazy how quickly I went from believing a small lie to running hard after something that provided no peace.  Once again though, to get back to where I was was implying that I was spiritually better than I was today.  Some of you might think that it’s okay and actually right to think that we can grow spiritually, and I agree.  But we must be careful with that, because all of our flesh want to claim that and wear it like a badge of honor.  We don’t even notice it and it can start with good intention to desire intimacy with God and months later we look back and its more about the GROWING than it is God.

Don’t take my word for it, look at Paul.  I could argue that the older Paul got the more he thought he wasn’t growing.  The older he got the more he recognized his NEED for Jesus as well as his want.  Early in Paul’s ministry he wrote to the Corinthians and said, “I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle.”  Toward the middle of his ministry he wrote in Ephesians 3:8, “I am the least of all the saints.”  Paul as he got older is getting worse? Weird…. Then at the end of his ministry, while in prison for a second time Paul tells his young student Timothy, “I am the foremost of sinners.”  Paul went from the worst apostle (12) to the worst of Christians (a couple thousand at that time), to the worst of all sinners(I think that means everyone!)

So was Paul getting worse?  I think Paul was less concerned of his progress and more concerned in Christ exaltation.  When that becomes all we consume and rejoice in, we become absurdly weak, AND THAT’S OKAY!  There’s so much freedom to know that I am still just as much in need of Christ’s atonement today.  Because I know that I’m still covered!

More assured?  Close the GAP?  I think you see where I’m going here.  Scripture beats this concept

 

 

Progress is overrated