The Gospel in Everyday Life

On Sunday, April 19 I am very excited to say that I am beginning an eight week sermon series entitled “The Gospel in Everyday Life.” Normally I preach through books of the Bible but I felt like a good place to start when it comes to transitioning to a new church family is to begin with what is most important; the good news of Jesus Christ.

Week 1: What is the Gospel? (2 Corinthians 5:21, Colossians 2:20-3:4)
Week 2: The Gospel and Our Sin Nature (Romans 6:1-11)
Week 3: The Gospel and Marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33)
Week 4: The Gospel and Parenting (Luke 6:43-45)
Week 5: The Gospel and the Workplace (Ephesians 6:5-9)
Week 6: The Gospel and Money (Malachi 3:1-6, 4:1-3)
Week 7: The Gospel and Community (Ephesians 2:11-19)
Week 8: The Gospel and Loving Our Neighbors (Matthew 5:13-16)

Each week that I preach through this series I will post some thoughts, ideas and  application questions here. Feel free to join the discussion. I will also add some resources (books, articles) each week that I believe will help you get a stronger grip on how the gospel relates to marriage, parenting, workplace, money, etc..

The next sermon series will be from the book of Colossians.

Anesthetize: Overcoming The Desire To Numb The Pain Of Unmet Longings

“Thank God I got sober now so I could be hyper-sensitive for this series of humiliations.” -Meryl Streep in Postcards From The Edge

I still remember the conversation I had with a man who had gone through quite a few trials in his young life. He struggled with an addiction to cocaine but eventually he gave up his addiction and got clean. Not long after that he found out that his wife had a terminal disease and was going to die. After his wife died he needed to learn how to honestly deal with the pain of life without numbing himself with drugs. He was telling me about a time when he was at home and was contemplating having a beer. He was
not thinking about getting drunk, just having a couple of drinks. From his perspective, nothing overtly wrong with a beer or two. What got me is that he, in that moment, sensed that the Holy Spirit was telling him not to have the drink. Instead of having a beer he was being told that he needed to stop self-medicating and actually feel the pain present in his life. He knew that his propensity was to do something, take something, to help him cope with the pain of life. He put the beer down and began the lifelong process of embracing the pain of life and looking for how God was going to meet him, heal him, where he was most deeply broken.

It makes me wonder how often we anesthetize ourselves throughout our daily lives? It may not be cocaine, it may be prescription medicine, alcohol, entertainment, food, shopping, pursuit of romance, career advancement, money, etc…

Here are a few thoughts I have when it comes to our tendency to escape our pain rather than meet God in it…

  1. Most likely we have tightened the stranglehold of an addiction in our life. Every time we turn to something other than God to deal with the pain of life or unmet expectations we enslave ourselves to something that can not possibly deliver what we need. Every compromise with sin makes it a little easier to give into it next time.
  2. We are telling God that he is not enough. When we give into an addiction we are making it very clear to ourselves and anyone else in our life that we do not believe that God is enough for us. We may not say that God is not enough out loud, but the way we live reveals what we truly believe.
  3. We are quenching (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and grieving (Ephesians 4:30) the Holy Spirit and keeping him from healing our brokenness. God loves us no matter what. Time and time again in Scripture (Luke 15) we see that God’s love for the prodigal knows no boundaries. Yet Scripture does warn us that, even as Christians, that there are repercussions if we continue our sinful habits. If we feel distant from God or that there is a serious lack of spiritual power in our lives it may be because we are trying to manage the sin in our lives instead of treating it like a cancer that wants to kill us.
  4. We keep from seeing how God was going to care for us and love us in our moment of desperation. We read in God’s Word that Jesus is (John 4:14) the living water that satisfies our deepest longings and thirsts. Perhaps we have gotten into the habit of giving into our temptation instead of patiently enduring the trial and experiencing God’s gracious provision in Christ.
  5. We may have given the devil a foothold in our life (Ephesians 4:17).  The Bible is clear that we are in a spiritual battle (1 Peter 5:8) and it would appear that continual, habitual sin may give the devil an undesired influence in our life.
  6. We keep from seeing and understanding why we are feeling the way we do. Our pain may be revealing something that we love too much. Is it possible that we feel desperate, angry, bitter, depressed, anxious because we love something or someone more than we should? If we numb ourselves instead of dealing with the pain we may never see the the many idols that are present in our lives.
  7. We reveal that we fail to understand that God uses hardships and trials (1 Peter 4:12) in our life to shape and mold us into the image of Jesus Christ. It is rather easy for us to dismiss the prosperity gospel as truly awful theology. Yet, how many times do we we demonstrate that we harbor a little gospel prosperity theology in our lives when we question God’s goodness in the middle of our trials? The Bible tells us that God redemptively uses suffering in our lives to spiritually transform us and make us more like his Son Jesus Christ.
  8. We fail to see what God is doing in mundane, everyday life. Is it possible that we have unrealistic expectations about what it means to walk with God? If so we may be tempted to escape and look for a quick fix to our unmet expectations. For some people following Jesus will mean giving up everything and moving to a new country for the sake of his kingdom. Sounds radical. Sounds exciting. For most people living as a Christian means living out our faith in the grind of everyday life. Jobs, raising children, sports, neighborhoods, friendships, hobbies are all a gift from God and his desire is that we live as salt and light in the middle of it all. Have we taken for granted what we already have been blessed with in Christ?

Have we lost our awe?

I was recently reading through the book of Colossians (a book saturated with the gospel in nearly every verse) and was struck with absolute amazement regarding this passage:

[15] He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. [16] For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. [17] And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. [18] And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. [19] For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, [20] and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

The way in which these two paragraphs are related is what brings me a sense of awe.

[21] And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, [22] he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, [23] if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Colossians 1:15-23 ESV)

This may be one of the most beautiful Christological passages in all of Scripture. In verses 15-20 Paul is singing the praise of Jesus; the image of God, first born of all creation, creator of the entire universe, preeminent over everything, all the fullness of God dwells in him and through the cross he will redeem the world that he created. Breathtaking…

Then Paul makes a transition in verse 21, “And you…” The connection that Paul makes is that Jesus, powerful beyond description, has come to earth, died on a cross so that he can make us “holy and blameless and above reproach…”

Jesus (preeminent Creator) has done this for me. For you. How does that make you feel? The way we answer that question may reveal, more than we know, the condition of our spiritual life.

I am glad to say that as I was reading this passage I was momentarily caught up with a sense of awe about Jesus coming to die for a sinner like me. Paul’s writing in Colossians made me think of something Paul Tripp wrote in his book “Dangerous Calling.”

“Awe of God must dominate my ministry, because of the of the central missional gifts of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to give people back their awe of God. A human being who is not living in a functional awe of God is profoundly disadvantaged human being. He is off the rails, trying to propel the train of his life in a meadow, and he may not even know it. The spiritual danger here is that when awe of God is absent, it is quickly replaced by our awe of ourselves. If you are not living for God, the only alternative is to live for yourself. So a central ministry of the church must be to do anything it can to be used of God to turn people back to the one thing for which they were created: to live in a sturdy, joyful, faithful awe of God.”

Allow me to be transparent for a moment, I find it to be incredibly challenging to live in this world with a deep sense of awe for God. There are things all around me that clamor for my affections, worship and awe. I do believe this is why it is so important for Christians to daily immerse their hearts and minds in the truth and power of the gospel. When we daily reflect on the gospel we are empowered to say no to idolatry and to live a life that truly reflects the immense value and worth of Jesus Christ.

“He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.” -Albert Einstein

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily. Day 12-My Inheritance In The Saints

REASONS TO REHEARSE THE GOSPEL DAILY

Day 12-My Inheritance In The Saints

The gospel is not just a message of reconciliation with God, but it also heralds the reconciliation of all believers to one another in Christ. Through the death of Christ, God has brought peace where there was once hostility, and He has broken down the racial, economic, and social barriers that once divided us outside of Christ.37

Also, when God saved us, He made us members of His household,38, and He gave us as gifts to one another.39 Each brother and sister is a portion of my gospel inheritance from God, and I am a portion of their inheritance as well. We are significant players in each other’s gospel narrative, and it is in relationship with one another that we experience the fullness of God in Christ.40

Hence, the more I comprehend the full scope of the gospel, the more I value the church for which Christ died,41 the more I value the role that I play in the lives of my fellow-Christians, and the more I appreciate the role that they must be allowed to play in mine.

37-Ephesians 2. “(14) For he himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, (15) by abolishing in his flesh the enmity…so that in himself he might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, (16) and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by having it put to death the enmity.” Colossians 3:11. “a in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.” Galatians 3:28. “There is neither Greek or Jew, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Revelation 5:9. “…You [Jesus] were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.”

38-Ephesians 2:19. “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are God’s household,”

39-Ephesians 1:18. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know…what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,”

40-Ephesians 3. “(17) “…you being rooted and grounded in love, (18) may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, (19) and to know the love of Christ…that you may be filled up with all the fullness of God.” 2 Timothy 2:22. “…pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 1 Peter 4:10. “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Ephesians 1. “(22)…the church, (23) which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily, Day 11-Loving My Brothers And Sisters

REASONS TO REHEARSE THE GOSPEL DAILY

Day 11-Loving My Brothers And Sisters

The more I experience the gospel, the more there develops within me a yearning affection for my fellow-Christians who are also participating in the glories of the gospel. This affection for them comes loaded with confidence in their continued spiritual growth and ultimate glorification, and it becomes my pleasure to express to them this loving confidence regarding the ongoing work of God in their lives.34

Additionally, with the gospel proving itself to be such a boon in my own life, I realize that the greatest gift that I can give to my fellow-Christians is the gospel itself. Indeed, I love my fellow Christians not simply because of the gospel, but I love them best when I am loving them with the gospel!35 And I do this not merely by speaking gospel words to them, but also by living before them and generously relating to them in a gospel manner. Imparting my life to them in this way, I thereby contribute to their experience of the power, the Spirit, and the full assurance of the gospel.36

By preaching the gospel to myself each day, I nurture the bond that unites me with my brothers and sisters for whom Christ died, and I also keep myself well-versed in the raw materials with which I may actively love them in Christ.

34-Philippians 1. “(3) I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, (4) always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, (5) in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. (6) For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (7) For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.”

35-1 Thessalonians 2:8. “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.”

36-1 Thessalonians 1:5. “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.” (New King James Version)

 

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily. Day 10-Enslaved By Christ’s Righhteousness

REASONS TO REHEARSE THE GOSPEL DAILY

Day 10-Enslaved By Christ’s Righteousness

The righteousness of God, credited to me through Christ, is not merely something I rest in, but it is also the premier saving reality by which God governs me. According to Romans 6, when I obeyed the gospel call I was both declared righteous and “became a slave to righteousness” at the same time.30 Quite literally, the righteousness that God credited to me became my master on the day I was converted! And now I am daily called by God to surrender the members of my being as slaves to do whatever the righteousness dictates.31

That I would be called to present my members as slaves of this imputed righteousness implies that my justification has something to say to me by way of directing me how to live my life each day. What it directs me to do is to be holy; and what results from my obedience to its rule is sanctification, or holiness of life.32 Hence, it could be said that ‘sanctification’ is merely the lifelong process wherein I joyfully surrender myself to God’s imputed righteousness and then do whatever this righteousness directs me to do. Indeed God has clothed me with His righteousness . Now He wants this righteousness to master me.

The more I exult in the reality of my justification in Christ, the more I position myself to experience the full governing force of its sanctifying power in my life. And the more sanctified I become, the more I experience the full breadth of eternal life that God has given to me in Christ.33

30-Romans 6. “(17) But thanks be to God that…you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed. (18) and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” (literal translation=”slaves of righteousness”)

31-Romans 6:19. “…For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”

32-Romans 6:19. “…so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”

33-Romans 6. “(19)…so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification…(22) But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily. Day 9-Resting In Christ’s Righteousness

REASONS TO REHEARSE THE GOSPEL DAILY

Day 9-Resting In Christ’s Righteousness

The gospel encourages me to rest in my righteous standing with God, a standing which Christ Himself has accomplished and always maintains for me.26 I never have to do a moment’s labor to gain or maintain my justified status before God!27 Freed from the burden of such a task, I now can put my energies into enjoying God, pursuing holiness, and ministering God’s amazing grace to others.

The gospel also reminds me that my righteous standing with God always holds firm regardless of my performance, because my standing is based solely on the work of Jesus and not mine.28 On my worst says of sin and failure, the gospel encourages me with God’s unrelenting grace toward me.29 On my best days of victory and usefulness, the gospel keeps me relating to God solely on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness and not mine.

26-Romans 5. “(1) Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, (2) through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” 1 John 2. “(1)…And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; (2) and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins…”

27-Romans 4:5. “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited  as righteousness,” Hebrews 4:3. “For we who have believed enter that rest…” Matthew 11:28. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”

28-Romans 5. “(18) So then as though one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of of life to all men. (19)…through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.”

29-Romans 5. “(20)…where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, (21) so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (6:1) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace might increase?” 1 John 2. “(1)…And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, (2) and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins…”

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily. Day 8-Freedom From Sin’s Power

REASONS TO REHEARSE THE GOSPEL DAILY

Day 8-Freedom From Sin’s Power

As long as I am stricken with the guilt of my sins, I will be captive to them, and will often find myself re-committing the very sins about which I feel most guilty. The Devil is well aware of this fact; he knows that if he can keep me tormented by sin’s guilt, he can dominate me with sin’s power.

The gospel, however, slays sin at at this root point and thereby nullifies sin’s power over me. The forgiveness of God, made known to me through the gospel, liberates me from sin’s power because it liberates me first from its guilt;25 and preaching such forgiveness to myself is a practical way of putting the gospel into operation as a nullifier of sin’s power in my life.

25-Romans 6:14. “For sin shall not be a master over you, for you are…under grace.”

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily. Day 7-Sufficiency In The Gospel

REASONS TO REHEARSE THE GOSPEL DAILY

Day 7-Sufficiency In The Gospel

The gospel serves as the means by which God daily constructs me into what He wants me to be and also serves as the channel through which He gives me my inheritance every day of my Christian life.21 Hence, it could be said that the gospel contains all that I need “for life and godliness.”22 It is for this reason that God tells me to be steadfastly entrenched in the gospel at all times and never to allow myself to be moved from there.23 The mere fact that God tells me to stay inside the gospel at all times must mean that He intends to supply all of my needs as long as I am abiding in that place of luxury.24

21-Acts 20:32. “…I commend you…to the message of his grace [the gospel], which is continually able to build you up and give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” [literal translation]

22-2 Peter 1:3. “…his divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and excellence.”

23-Colossians 1:23. “…continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel…”

24-Colossians 2. “(8) See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. (9) for in him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, (10) and in him you have been made complete…” 2 Peter 1:3. “…his divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and excellence.”

Reasons To Rehearse The Gospel Daily. Day 6-A Cure For Distrust

REASONS TO REHEARSE THE GOSPEL DAILY

Day 6-A Cure For Distrust

Every time I deliberately disobey a command of God, it is because I am in that moment doubtful as to God’s true intentions in giving me that command. Does He really have my best interests at heart? Or is He withholding something from me that I would be better off having?19 Such questions, whether consciously asked or not, lie underneath every act of disobedience.

However, the gospel changes my view of God’s commandments, in that it helps me to see the heart of the Person from whom these commandments come. When I begin my train of thought with the gospel, I realize that if God loved me enough to sacrifice His Son’s life for me then He must be guided by that same love when he speaks His commandments to me. Viewing God’s commands and prohibitions in this light, I can see them for what they really are: friendly signposts from a heavenly Father who is seeking to love me through each directive, so that I might experience His very fullness forever.20

When controlling my thoughts as described above, the gospel cures me of my suspicion of God, thereby disposing me to walk more trustingly on the path of obedience to His commands.

19-Genesis 3. “(4) The serpent said,…(5)…God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (6) When the woman saw that the tree, and that it was delightful to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate…”

20-Deuteronomy 5:29. “Oh that they had such a great heart in them, that they would…keep all my commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!”