From my earliest childhood I remember hearing the message of the Gospel. Both at home and at church, the truth that Jesus died on the cross, was buried and rose again was pounded into my little head and heart. As a result, at the young age of five, I gave my life to Jesus. A few months later, I was baptized. Years later, I understood the theological implications of what had taken place. Through the transforming message of the Gospel, I was justified. My salvation was eternally secure.
Unfortunately, though, that is where the Gospel ended. As important as the Good News of Jesus’ death was for my salvation, the rest was up to me. Or, so I thought. For many years, I erroneously believed that my spiritual growth was my responsibility. After all, God had given us a list of rules, and it was my responsibility to keep them, right? Thus, my sanctification was directly connected to my ability to do good.
Man was I wrong! For years, I lived a frustrated life. Now, don’t get me wrong. Thankfully I never went off the deep end into a life of sin and shame. Yet, I also never experienced the equipping power that only comes from the Holy Spirit working out the Gospel in my life. I worked really hard, too hard, at living a spiritual life. Is that what God wants for us, though? Does the Gospel have any transformational power beyond our salvation?
Notice the exhortations of the Apostle Paul…
Galatians 2:20 – My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Ephesians 4:19 – May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Philippians 1:21 – For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Colossians 1:11 – We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.
In these verses, Paul clearly shows that the Christian life is lived not through our own strength, but through the power of the Gospel. That is what makes the Gospel so different from religion. Religion works from the outside in, cleaning up the outside while letting the inside go. The Gospel, though, works from the inside out. It changes our inner man, which results in our outer man being changed as well.
So, how does this play out in our life? Here are a few practical truths that if applied will help you to live out the power of the Gospel.
1. Don’t get entrapped by legalism
For so many years, I based my spiritual self-worth on my ability or inability to do right. For example, if I faithfully read my Bible, then I felt good about myself. If I spent “adequate” time in prayer, then I felt more confident of God’s blessings and power on my life. But, if I failed to do any of those things, then I lived with guilt and shame, confident that God was unhappy with me.
I was stuck on the hamster wheel of trying to please God. Unfortunately, I was chasing after something I could never attain. On my own, I was totally incapable of pleasing Him.
In Galatians 5:1 Paul declares, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” In other word, don’t allow yourself to be caught up in trying to “do things” to please God. It doesn’t matter what you do, you can never be good enough!
2. Realize that Christ is in you
The only way that you and I will grow in our faith is through the power of Christ in us. In Colossians 1:17 Paul told the Gentiles that Christ lived in them – “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” You see, the Gospel not only justifies, but it sanctifies as well. It not only saves you, but it makes you like Jesus.
3. Surrender to the Holy Spirit
In Romans 8:11 Paul declares that the Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead lives in you. Yes, you possess resurrection power! We access that power whenever we surrender the control of our lives to Him. It is through our submitting to the Holy Spirit that He eliminates the works of the flesh from our lives and replaces them with the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-23).
The simple truth is that the Gospel changes everything. It is not just a truth to be believed, but the very power of God that transforms us. It is only when we stop trying to change ourselves and we submit to Him that real transformation takes place. Allow the Gospel to do its work in your life!