Major Beliefs Day 59 – The Practical Change of the Gospel (Ephesians 4)
Ephesians 4:32 – “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
One of the mistakes of the American church is that it thinks the Gospel is for the lost and that once a person has become a follower of Jesus Christ, that they should move past the Gospel into the deeper things of the faith. When Paul writes all of his letters however his focus is always on the Gospel. He is writing to a churches, to groups of believers and yet he never ceases to talk about the cross and the blood of Jesus and the empty tomb. Why? Because it is the Gospel that transforms us, it is the Gospel that changes us. And because of that we as believers should be constantly and consistently reminding ourselves and each other about the truth and the beauty of the Gospel.
We should never tire of hearing about what Jesus has done for us. After all Paul says, “it is the power of God”. The Gospel saves us but it also changes us. For example one of our callings as Christians is to put other people’s needs ahead of our own. That however goes against our nature doesn’t it? We are born with a desire to “preserve ourselves” and then we are taught “to look out for #1”. The Gospel flies in the face of that doesn’t it? For what if Jesus had done that, what if Jesus would have only looked out for Himself? Then there never would have been a cross. He would not have endured the shame and the humiliation, He would not have suffered the wrath of God the Father, instead He would have simply looked out for Himself. But He didn’t, He was (and is) the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He loved us enough to go to the cross and do die for us. When He was nailed to the tree He wasn’t looking out for Himself, He was looking out for His children.
As we contemplate that wonderful truth it changes us because if Jesus put others first and we are His followers then we should put others first as well. We should very practically do what Paul is talking about here and “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving.” But lets be honest sometimes that hard isn’t it? Its hard to do those things. So how can we? Through making up our minds and saying we are going to do better? No way, that doesn’t work. We might do it for a few days or hours but then we are right back to “looking out for number 1”. What does Paul say? He says to do those things because God through Christ forgave you. In other words he takes them back to the Gospel and he shows them once again the truth of the love and grace of God. For it is that love and that grace that changes us isn’t it? “It is the love of God that constrains us,” the Bible says. Keeping the Gospel before us changes us, it makes us into what God has redeemed us to be. People who care for and who love other people.
That is counter cultural isn’t it? It certainly isn’t what we see in our world. But it is what Jesus did and as we think about what He did for us on the cross then we supernaturally become those kind of people as well. People who ask not how can I look out for myself, but how can I care for and love other people. People who look for opportunities to share the Gospel, people who look for chances to help and love others, not to earn salvation, but because they have been given it. People who are grateful for what Jesus did for them on the cross and as they think about His blood and His love, are motivated to give of themselves to other people. Sola de Gloria, To God be the glory!