What unites us as evangelical Christians in Northeastern Colorado? What common bond do we share that will help us truly impact this community? We may have different worship styles and denominational affiliations, but there is one foundation that binds us together. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am afraid that we are living in an evangelical culture where the gospel is being assumed and whenever this happens, the next generation almost always suffers a drift into liberalism, pragmatism, and a down-grade on the most important message we are called to share. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul reminds us that the gospel is of first importance. He writes, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.”
The gospel is good news that we are to announce and receive. The gospel is the glorious message of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and the all the implications that flow from this. The gospel by its very nature is news that is to be broadcast. It is to be announced. It is to be shared, preached, taught, and communicated so that sinners who are under God’s wrath will repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone for salvation.
I want to see northeastern Colorado saturated with the message of the gospel so that rebels can be turned into worshippers. But my concern is that we may be in danger of assuming the gospel. While strategies, and techniques, and programs, and initiatives are very helpful in reaching our area for Christ, we must always come back to the truth that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe (Romans 1:16).
I believe that as Christians we must constantly preach the gospel to ourselves everyday to remind us of the power of Christ in our lives. Many times we think that the gospel is simply the “entry point” for non-believers to begin a relationship with Jesus and is really not that important to more “mature” Christians. Yet, there is nothing more sacred, life-giving, and powerful than for us as believers and churches to meditate upon, drink deeply from, and constantly remind ourselves of the gospel.
We must always remember that in our helpless depravity and spiritual bankruptcy, Christ Jesus came to earth to live the life we could never live. He was completely obedient to the will of His Father and fulfilled the Law in thought, word and deed. As the sinless Lamb of God on the cross, He absorbed the wrath of God in our place and became a curse so that sinners could be reconciled to the Father through His shed blood. The innocent became guilty so that the guilty could become innocent. 2 Corinthians 5:21 poignantly states, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God”. After Jesus obtained our eternal redemption through the finished work on the cross, He was buried in a tomb, and then three days later, God raised Him from the dead. Jesus is alive and is reigning as the one Mediator in heaven at the right hand of the Father as our High Priest.
As those who are dead in sin, we must be made alive in Christ. Through the power of the new birth, the Holy Spirit comes and raises us to spiritual life through regeneration and gives us the gifts of repentance and faith. Once we repent of our sins and trust in Christ alone for salvation, the greatest exchange in all the universe occurs. This is called justification by faith alone. This is the bedrock of the gospel and the church stands or falls on this crucial doctrine.
Upon placing our faith in Christ, our sins are credited or imputed to Jesus and we bare them no more. He has totally canceled our debt of guilt through His cross. But there is a second aspect to justification. Not only are our sins credited to Christ, but His perfect righteousness is credited to us so that we can be declared not guilty by the Father. We are accepted by the living God on account of Christ and are no longer under any condemnation.
When we remind ourselves daily of these truths by preaching the gospel to ourselves, we receive the power to live the Christian life. We receive the comfort to trust in Christ and not in our performance. The beautiful truth of the gospel is that God loves to save bad people and all of us fit into that category. The gospel strips us of all pride and gives us the motivation to please Christ not so that He will love us and accept us but because He already has loved us and accepted us in grace.
As we labor together as evangelicals in northeastern Colorado, my prayer is that we never lose the centrality of the gospel. I pray that we never just assume the gospel and then move onto to bigger and better things. I pray that our churches are gospel-centered in that priority of the cross, justification by faith, and the truths about the new birth are central to all that we do. I pray that as we engage lostness and pray for revival to sweep across our community, God would be so pleased to bless His people because we have been faithful to the most important message He has given us—the gospel of Jesus Christ.