In 1st Corinthians 15, The Apostle Paul, says the Gospel is “of first importance.” This infers there are varying degrees of importance to biblical topics. What does he say is most important? Is it tongues? Is it gifts? Is it tithing? Is it how to dress? No, he simply says it’s the Gospel! These things are good, and can be debated, but only the good news of Jesus is of first importance. Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, he infers are supposed to be at the center of our lives for utmost joy and intimacy with our Creator. Is it for you? Below are some penetrating questions for self-examination. Let us continue to fall on our knees and rely not on our own behavior, but His saving work on the Cross. As Tim Keller says, “The Gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian faith, it is the A-Z.” You want more intimacy with God? Push into the Gospel. You struggle with sin? Push into the Gospel. You desire more of Jesus? Push into the Gospel. There is freedom to struggle at the foot of the Cross.
—When you sin or fall where do you run? If you are really believing the gospel you’ll run to Him, but if you trust in yourself, then when you mess up you’ll clean yourself up for a few days and then come back to him as if you somehow are worthy now. He makes us clean, not our behavior.
(1st john 1:9, Psalm 32:5, Proverbs 28:13)
—What does your Christian walk produce, pride/despair or joy? If you are really believing the gospel you will have humble confident joy (because it doesn’t depend on you it depends on Him), but if you believe in yourself you will either be prideful or in despair (prideful because you made a moral behavior code and kept it and so you are “better than those people” or you made a list and can’t keep it and are living in an endless cycle of despair thinking you’re not “good enough.” Only Jesus can rescue you from boasting in yourself or wallowing in your failure.)
(Romans 15:13, Galatians 5:22-23)
—What do you think of others? If you really believe the gospel you will see others above yourself, but if believe in yourself you will put yourself above others. Notice that the disciples fought over the throne, but we should fight over the towel (What Jesus washed their feet with after showing them that to be a leader you first must be a servant).
(Philippians 2:3-11, John 13:1-17)
—How do you view other’s problems? If you really believe the gospel you will love people and have compassion on them, but if you believe in yourself you will have no compassion, you’ll passover people’s needs, and be like the false religious person in the “Good Samaritan” story.
(1st John 4:20)
–Do you think you can lose your salvation? If you really believe the gospel you will have a proper understanding of justification (made right with God forever) and sanctification (growing to be more like Him), but if you trust in yourself you will confuse them and begin to think you are central to your salvation. God makes the promise in Jeremiah 32:40 that those under the New Covenant (the ones who have trusted in Jesus) He will never cease doing good to. That has nothing to do with your behavior. Because Jesus absorbed all the wrath for the elect, you only get mercy. His uncaged grace is dangerous, but it’s life-giving. We are made right, and then we grow, not try to grow and then we will be made right. The question isn’t “Can I lose my salvation?” The question is “can God lose me?” which He can’t.
(Romans 5:1, Gal 2:16, Romans 8:30, Romans 5:20, Jeremiah 32:40, Hebrews 8:10)
—Where do you look on a daily basis? If you really believe in the gospel you will continue to fix your eyes on Jesus, but if you trust in yourself you will continue to look to yourself and inner thoughts/feelings to give you right standing with God. Our standing with God is solely external. Our feelings are feeble, but He is not.
(John 3:14-15, Numbers 21:1-4, Hebrews 12:1-2)
—What can be taken from you that’d be the most devastating? What would most rock you to the core if it failed, broke, or was taken from you? If you really believe the gospel, God should be the answer, but if you believe in yourself then other things are the answer. This is a lifelong battle, but we must continue to strive daily to worship the Creator, not the creation. The minute you put God’s things above God, you’ve strayed from the gospel.
(Matthew 7:24-27, Psalm 73:25-26)
—Does your Christianity affect everything or just your Sunday afternoons? If you really believe the gospel it will affect every facet of your life and there will be no divide between secular or sacred, but if you are believing in yourself then Jesus will be compartmentalized, merely a section of the pie. Jesus invades all of our life, Religion just invades our Sundays.
(Colossians 3:17, 1st Cor 10:31)
So, is the gospel affecting your daily life? Are you living in light of His death, burial, and resurrection? The common theme in the above questions is self vs. Jesus. The easiest way to decipher is ask, “Who gets the glory from this? Who is on display? Who is made much of? Me or Him?” Let’s strive to answer those questions with Him! Our joy and His glory are at stake, and they are inseparable from each other. We give Him the glory, we get the joy. Also, If I can be honest I have to admit within the last week I have failed every single question asked above. I don’t trust Him, I trust myself. I don’t look to Him, I look to myself. I don’t love Him, I love myself. But, that is the the center of the gospel and the beauty of His grace that while we were messy, dirty, guilty, and sinful He saw it as His joy to come die for us (Romans 5:8, Hebrews 12:2). Grace like that is what explodes in a heart and woo’s you to Him. He is drawing you by His love, and through that love and grace you can begin to walk in the gospel. Slowly, but surely.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”