The Biggest Change
Do you remember that moment when you accepted the redemption of Jesus Christ, admitting that God was real and you need Him? Life changed in a moment. The direction and trajectory of your life was drastically altered.
What happened in that moment?
A combination of thoughts and actions led to a decision. Suddenly, the Gospel, the Good News of the Kingdom of God redeeming mankind from a broken relationship with the Creator, became real to you! The idea became a reality.
One week passes by and the excitement is still fresh and your friends and family see a change.
A month passes and the new you is now normal. You’ve digested the Gospel more thoroughly and have implemented lasting change. The Gospel affects your decision making and future plans.
6 months pass and you’re on Gospel auto-pilot. The changes are rooted. Life without the Gospel is hard to fathom.
1 year passes. 2 years pass. For some, the Gospel never dulls. It shines bright, daily drawing them to ever new awe and wonder. For most, however, the Gospel fades. This is, of course, to be expected. It happens with everything. But the Gospel is different. It’s the crux of our life, the foundation for our worldview.
The question is, how do we reclaim our wonder of the Gospel and then keep it from fading?
The heart of Gospel Renewal, a term I first heard from Timothy Keller in his book Center Church, is experiencing the doctrines of sin and grace, not just knowing about them. Over the years this has also been called revival.
We experienced the Gospel at that moment of life change but we can lose touch with this experience over time as life happens. This happens to us personally and to the church. A congregation or a denomination can lose sight of the Gospel, forgetting it’s true impact.
The Gospel simultaneously shows us that we are sinners and saints! Nowhere is this stated better than in Center Church:
It [the Gospel] says, “I am more sinful and flawed than I ever dared believe,” but then quickly follows with, “I am more accepted and loved than I ever dared hope.”
When we lose sight of this, we begin to believe that our works are what justify us. We know that God saved us, but we feel like we’re still in debt, under obligation to work for our freedom. Or we swing to the other side, declaring that our actions no longer matter, we are redeemed by God’s grace. Do you see what happens? When we allow the Gospel to fade, we allow ourselves to fall into legalism or relativism.
Renewing the Gospel
Gospel Renewal takes intentionality. When we remember our hopeless situation without the Gospel and our unbelievable reversal with the Gospel, Gospel Renewal has occurred. But how do we get there?
- The Holy Spirit:
Our redemption was and is a free gift of grace from God, though it cost Jesus everything. This is critical. We must start Gospel Renewal with the reality that we can’t do it ourselves. We can’t pray enough, study enough, give enough, worship enough, etc. to receive God’s grace. These are all great disciplines that place us before God in submission (if done with the right heart) but they are not ways of manipulating God. We cannot force God to do anything, even if that’s what He wants to do. Gospel Renewal is the work of the Holy Spirit.
This isn’t the quick prayer from your dog or aunt. This is a humble prayer of confession, a real conversation with the Father, asking for renewed awe and wonder of the saving Gospel. John 14:26 makes it clear that the Holy Spirit longs to share the Gospel with us.
- The Bible:
The Bible IS the Gospel. From beginning to end, we see God creating and restoring. Time spent in the Word of God is never wasted. With the guidance and positioning of the Holy Spirit and prayer, the Bible will come alive, opening up the Gospel for our receptive and expectant hearts.
Keeping It Fresh
This new experience of the awe of the Gospel will be met with opposition from the enemy of our souls. This knowledge, however, only helps us to continue pushing harder. Don’t give up ground!
Gospel Renewal simply leads us back into true Christian discipleship and living. Gospel Renewal isn’t a mountain top that we reach once a year or decade. It’s a plateau far above the lies of the enemy, a path we are meant to walk all of our days.
So go! Rediscover the Gospel and enter into true life!