While it is important to be clear, precise and short when presenting the gospel to someone for the first time, it is wrong to not continue with telling the rest of the good news story. A sure sign that one has only heard part of the gospel or good news is a deep seated lack of interest or a desire to live towards the acknowledgement that Christ is indeed Lord. It is impossible for one to come to Christ and Christ not be Lord of one’s life. That is not to say that one will not increase in such awareness.
Do we truly know joy, what it is to truly be loved, to know what it is to encounter the glory of God? Only through having our lives violently interrupted through our suffering in the storm were we really able to encounter God, have our affections grabbed, our focus righted and actually know what it is to begin to live.
When Christ called all those to come who were weary, he also called them to put on his yoke which was light and easy. He has taken us now from being law breakers, defining ourselves by some supposed ability to call ourselves law keepers, judging ourselves by our performance and others by their lack of it to defining ourselves as being law keepers, because we have been given his ability to do so. No longer defined by our abilities, but by His.
What sort of parent would ever base their love for their child on whether they behave or not? It is a gift for all children that their parents favor, pleasure and love is based on the mere fact that they are the children of their parents. Christ said, in Matthew 7, if your earthly Father knows how to give such good gifts, how much more will your heavenly Father. Can there be a greater gift given or for the children to have their affections stirred by and awakened to the unyielding, immutable, impassable love of God. This, by very definition, is the very thing John spoke of in 1 John 4:19.
Often, because the gospel is mixed with the law in ways that rob us of both their beauty and distinct purposes, one may be left feeling that the gospel is not sufficient as a means to bring real transformation and saving grace. Thus one must do more and keep doing more – to ensure that we are indeed saved rather than resting and living in the finished work of Christ.
When we fail to stress that we should be putting off the old man and putting on the new or live lives of self-discipline, we deny that we are indeed deeply loved, treasured and desired by the Father. For sin is the disbelief of what God says. A flexible, bendable softened standard of law will never be demanding enough to push us back to the well of the gospel of truth; nor is it a law that points us to the fact that God is still righteous, perfect, demanding of holiness and just.
You know, often when we ourselves or someone else is not living right, the first thing we start thinking is, I need to start telling myself what to do, let me find a book on ten steps to a better you name it, let me listen to preacher X so that he can get me fired up again. I need to start telling myself what to do or how to live, in order that God will be more pleased with me and love me more. If only I will do this or that, follow this law, be more obedient, my life will be better and there will not be as much suffering. Well, there might be some truth to that last one?.
All men and women are interested in making a name for themselves. All are passionate about their own self-promotion. However, when one encounters Jesus Christ and his Gospel, the desire for self-praise diminishes and the desire for Savior-praise increases. When our eyes are opened and we see the magnificence of our Glorious Lover, our natural tendency to promote self decreases, and we find ourselves more like John the Baptist who uttered the famous statement, “He must increase, I must decrease.”
There is certainly a time for us to sacrifice, labor, toil, work, serve, or minister. God gives all of us spiritual and temporal gifts, and he expects us to steward and spend them for his glory and our neighbor’s good. Yes, it is good for us to work as did Moses, labor as did disciples, minister as did Paul, and serve as did Mary. There are certainly benefits when we do serve. As the Father witnesses our obedience, worship, and selfless service, he smiles. It thrills him to see what he does through the hearts and hands of his redeemed children. He loves to see us loving and looking like his Beloved Son. Yes, when we labor, God grins, brothers and sisters are benefited, the Gospel is promoted, and our own souls are encouraged and made glad. However, despite the duty and benefits of service, something better is before us. According to Jesus, it is better for us when we sabbath than when we serve.