The Gospel + All Things

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I recently attended a college ministry event in which a number of students gave testimonies about how their lives have been impacted.  As is so often the case, it was enormously encouraging and spoke of great saving fruit arising from that campus labor.  I was struck, however, by a statement made by one of the students that we hear increasingly today.  Telling about how God's grace has impacted her, she stated, "The gospel is all that I have." 

In the sense in which the student made that statement, it was a blessing to the ears and the heart.  I gather that she meant, "The only thing I can rely upon in my relationship with God and in my life is the good news of Jesus Christ."  Amen.  But the statement itself, especially as it has become a stock in trade of young Reformed Christians, is a bit concerning.  It seems that every generation has its motto, expressing the attitude of that cultural moment among believers.  A generation ago we often heard, "God is my co-pilot."  The sentiment of this expression was that God is right there beside me as I make my decisions and face life's challenges.  The problem with that motto was that God is considerably more than a co-pilot in the journey of salvation!  Today, the motto seems to be "the gospel is all that I have."  And while it too expresses a godly sentiment, it has limitations when it comes to training the minds and hearts of our faith.

If I was in a pastoral or parental relationship with the student I mentioned, I would have liked to have said to her afterwards, "It is so great that you are relying on the gospel for all things.  But, you know, that the truth is that with the gospel you actually have all things."  This was Paul's point in the great statement of Romans 8:32, where he asks, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"  The glorious truth is that while the gospel is all we have to stand on before God, with the gospel God provides us with all things!

What are some of the things that I have through the gospel of Jesus Christ?  The answer is the cornucopia of salvation theology!  I have justification so as to be accepted before God's justice.  I have adoption so as to be embraced into God's fatherly love as a beloved child.  I have sanctification as the Holy Spirit graciously works within me.  And I have glorification, as the return of Christ is destined to admit him into his eternal presence.  Through the gospel, I have the past, where Jesus lived and died on my behalf; I have the present, in which I am kept for eternal life by God's grace; and I have the future, which holds no fear for those who are treasured in the hand of the Almighty.  Through the gospel I have heaven, where my name is enrolled forever, and I have earth, over which my Savior exercises all power and authority.  I have Christian fellowship through communion with the saints and I have participation in the church with its ordinances of nurture and care.  Through the gospel I have perfect liberty to live above the world and sin and I have beloved bondage as a willing slave to Jesus Christ.  Through the gospel, I have a new nature that partakes of the character of God, and I have the blessing of the law of God to guide me in the way of life.  I have the Word of God shining within.  I have prayer, which grants access to the very throne of grace.  I have the sacraments, bearing the sign and seal of the covenant of grace.  I have worship, service, sacrifice, and solace.  Most of all, best of all, I have Jesus Christ - the whole Jesus Christ: Lord and Savior; Prophet, Priest, and King; Master, Helper, and Friend.  And in union with Jesus Christ, together with communion in the gifts and graces of his blessed kingdom, through the gospel, I truly have all things!

With this in mind, I propose this substitute for the motto so commonly heard today: "the gospel is all that I have."  Dear Christian friend, I know what you mean - you stand on the gospel alone for your hope of acceptance with God.  But let me remind you - and urge you perhaps to say it this way instead - "Through the gospel alone I have all things!"

Posted November 4, 2015 @ 9:42 AM by Rick Phillips
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