Bible Reading: Romans 1:1-17
Whenever I eat a meal that I haven’t eaten before- especially one that I really like- I’m usually eating as a very keen observer and learner. I don’t just want to enjoy the meal, I want to figure out the meal. I want to know the ingredients, I want to try and figure out the procedures.
That’s really important to me, because I might not always have access to this eatery- but if I can figure out the recipe, then I can reproduce it at will. And like in the shawarma case, at more economic rates!
I think that many people have gotten caught up in the ‘whole christianity’ thing, without actually ‘figuring’ out the basics. Many people are so much around spiritual things, around the house of God by their choice- or their choicelessness; many are even walking in the gifts of the Spirit, surrounding themselves with a lot of knowledge, but don’t even clearly know the basis or basics of everything.
We can do with some reminding.
I think of it like receiving a beautiful well-decorated surprise cake on your birthday. It’s important that we differentiate between what is the cake, what is the icing, what is the box that the cake came in, and who is just the delivery agent that dropped it off.
We eat the cake with the icing and we appreciate the delivery agent. That we pay for the box doesn’t mean we will eat the box, or that the cake would have been any different or any less a cake if the box was white or red.
Do you get the point?
Salvation is not found in regularity of attending church and intensity of involvement. Salvation is not hinged on a personal performance. It’s not primarily about having sane and godly relationships and speaking flawless “Christianese”. Salvation is not first about being a ‘good’ person. It is about believing the gospel.
The cake leads to the icing, which leads to the box and to the delivery agent. There are implications of believing the gospel, but they are not the substance of our salvation.
It is the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation,
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance… Romans 1:16 AMPC
What then is the gospel? What do we believe?
As true as that is, I think it can be limiting. The Gospel is indeed good news, but not all good news is The Gospel.
It is good news that a relative who was ill has been miraculously healed; it is good news that your sports team won the trophy; it is good news that someone you admire also likes you…
But all those do not have the power to save. Sadly, people put their faith in a lot of ‘good news’ and so feel disappointed down the line. People put their faith in good news that Jesus can meet all their needs, or they put their faith in good news that Jesus can heal or can bless them with some thing or the other.
That’s all good news, but it is not the substance of The gospel.
We must not muddle it up.
The Gospel is the good news that the incarnate and crucified Saviour, Jesus Christ, is the risen Lord and impending judge of the world.
Let’s highlight seven essential elements of the gospel:
– It is actually good news
– It is about Jesus.
– It recognizes that He was born as a man
– It recognizes that He was crucified
– It recognizes that He was raised from the dead
– It recognizes His Lordship
– It recognizes Him in His authority by which He will return to judge the world.
Over the next few days, we will explore this and its implications. We will explore the substance of each element of the cake, then the icings, the boxes and the delivery agents that drop the cake off, and try to see how to sort them out properly.
But today, let’s remind ourselves that if we are saved, it is by putting our faith in the story of the gospel. God is pleased to place His power in the story of the gospel!
Don’t just get lost eating a good Christian meal, let’s taste and find the substance and be thankful for it.
It’s one of my greatest moments as a dad when I read a story to my kids and see their eyes light up with excitement and the emotions of the story. Has the Gospel just become some random story to you, or does it get you grateful at your core?