The gospel for today

For many believers, the gospel is something they needed once and believed and likewise something that they have moved beyond.  The gospel is for unbelievers, the weak, and the immature.  The gospel is in the past, not the present or the future.

But the gospel is, in fact, for every day.  It is the means by which an unbeliever is saved, and it is the means by which a believer grows.  Paul makes it plain to the Galatians, who were the ancient antecedents to the contemporary church in this regard:  “Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (3:3).

Yes, spiritual life begins by the moving of the Spirit of God through the gospel of God, but spiritual maturity comes by daily believing and acting on that same gospel truth.  Every day, the believer needs to remember and act on the truths, I am a sinner who is in himself destitute before God, incapable of offering anything of worth to God and standing under the judgment of God.  Yet, in His great grace, the Father sent the Son to live a perfect life and then die as the recipient of God’s wrath, so that those who believe that God was satisfied by Christ’s death and resurrection can be reconciled to God so that they can live for Him and for the first time enjoy and delight in Him.  The gospel is the answer for both the penalty of sin (which is removed at the time of salvation) and the power of sin (which is progressively removed day-by-day as we live in Christ).

A believer’s ability to live worthy of the gospel and ability to enjoy God (loving Him and being loved by Him) and free from the power of sin is dependent on, as Jerry Bridges has said so well, “preaching the gospel to yourself every day.”

Another writer recently affirmed this same truth:

After meditating on Paul’s words, a friend told me that all our problems in life stem from our failure to apply the gospel. This means I can’t really move forward unless I learn more thoroughly the gospel’s content and how to apply it to all of life. Real change does not and cannot come independently of the gospel. God intends his Good News in Christ to mold and shape us at every point and in every way. It increasingly defines the way we think, feel, and live.

Martin Luther often employed the phrase simul justus et peccator — “simultaneously justified and sinful.”  He understood that while he’d already been saved from sin’s penalty, he was in daily need of salvation from sin’s power.  And since the gospel is the “power of God for salvation,” he knew that even for the most saintly of saints, the gospel is wholly relevant and vitally necessary.  This means heralded preachers need the gospel just as much as hardened pagans. [Tullian Tchividjian]

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