We're about to begin a series on our blog where we will see how the gospel of Jesus affects every area of our lives. Each post will look at how the truth of the gospel changes how we view a certain aspect of life and its implication in our lives.
Before we begin, it’s important to first define the gospel (a word that means "good news"). What is this good news that changes everything once we believe it? The gospel is often described as a diamond, having many beautiful and amazing facets. Very simply “the gospel is the word about Jesus Christ and what he did for us in order to restore us to a right relationship with God." Graeme Goldsworthy, According to Plan.
Or a more descriptive and detailed definition: “the heart of the gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead. What makes this good news is that Christ’s death accomplished a perfect righteousness before God and suffered a perfect condemnation from God, both of which are counted as ours through faith alone, so that we have eternal life with God in the new heavens and the new earth.” - John Piper
Now that we have a definition of the gospel, let's begin to see how this truth changes our identity.
Ephesians 2 tells us that before you and I were in Christ we "were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind" (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV). What bleak and hopeless news, right?
But it doesn't end there. One of the greatest "buts" (note there is just one t in that "but") of the Bible comes in the next verse. Despite our natural condition as spiritually dead slaves to sin who were by nature children of wrath, God graciously chose to change that. "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:4-10 ESV).
If you are in Christ you are no longer a slave to your sin. You are no longer dead in your sin. You do not have to follow the prince of the power of the air. You do not have to be controlled by the passions of your former sinful flesh. You are no longer a child of wrath.
Instead you have been given a new identity. All those things I just listed are no longer who you are. Because of Christ's substitutionary sacrifice you are now alive with Christ. You have been saved by God's grace and mercy - not your hard work, your self-control, or your good deeds. By His grace you have been saved from eternal spiritual death and are now raised up with him and seated with Him.
Just as an artist is proud of his or her great work when s/he finishes a masterpiece, we are called God's workmanship. Wouldn't it be ridiculous to give praise to a great song for being great rather than the songwriter who created it? It is the same with God, who made us new creations in Christ.
Finally we are reminded that we've been recreated and renewed for the task of good works. These good works reflect this gospel rather than earn it. They were given to us, prepared for us, and created in Christ Jesus for us. Even our good works as new creatures in Christ is a gracious gift.
Hiawatha Church: if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, bask in your new identity in him! Meditate on the gospel of Jesus Christ and remember who you are in him. Don't live contrary to the truth of your new identity in him.
If you're new to all of this, just checking out faith, Jesus, and Christianity, you too can have this. By faith, you can move from spiritual death to spiritual life. You can be given freedom from slavery to sin. You can move from judgment to acceptance. Trust in Christ as the Son of God who came to bring you new life, repent of your sins, and walk in your new identity!
SPENCER PETERSON / COMMUNITY LIFE PASTOR