The gospel we share is the best news in the world because it is all about what God has already done for us and not about what we can or can’t do for him.
“No one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law… We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.”—Romans 3:20-22a
Have you ever felt like you aren’t enough? That you don’t measure up? That no matter what you do, you’ll never quite make it?
We live in a performance culture that demands a lot of us. Sometimes we feel like the same pressure applies to our Christian walk—that we’ve got to pass some kind of righteousness test to please God and others. But the gospel is unlike anything in this world. It is not about what we can do, but about what God has already done for us in Jesus.
If we are honest, in a thousand different ways, you and I have personally rejected God and rebelled against Him. In doing so, we have earned His wrath and eternal judgment. But in His goodness, God gave us mercy instead. “For the wages of sin is death,” we read in Romans 6:23, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Our human nature tends towards two extremes: self-love and self-loathing. We may be drawn to one of these more than the other, or even both on the very same day. But the gospel’s salvation-from-sin message corrects both errors. In the words of New York pastor and author Timothy Keller,
The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.
The gospel is all God’s doing. Ephesians 2:8-9 couldn’t be any clearer on this point: “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.” We desperately need this reminder in humanistic times like ours.
“Salvation is an act of God,” wrote Billy Graham. “It is initiated by God, wrought by God, and sustained by God.” Once God weans us from our own self-reliance, we enter the incredible freedom of knowing that our salvation is all of Him, and none of us. All we contribute is our sin. God does the rest. Consider the well-loved hymn Rock of Ages by Augustus M. Toplady:
Not the labour of my hands
Can fulfil Thy law’s demands
Could my zeal no respite know
Could my tears forever flow
All for sin could not atone
Thou must save, and Thou alone
One of my favourite quotes on this topic comes from theologian Michael Horton:
The heart of most religions is good advice, good techniques, good programs, good ideas, and good support systems. These drive us deeper into ourselves, to find our inner light, inner goodness, inner voice, or inner resources. Nothing new can be found inside of us. There is no inner rescuer deep down in my soul: I just hear echoes of my own voice telling me all sorts of crazy things to numb my sense of fear, anxiety, and boredom, the origins of which I cannot truly identify.
But the heart of Christianity is Good News. It comes not as a task for us to fulfil, a mission for us to accomplish, a game plan for us to follow with the help of life coaches, but as a report that someone else has already fulfilled, accomplished, followed, and achieved everything for us. Good advice may help us in daily direction: the Good News concerning Jesus Christ saves us from sin’s guilt and tyranny over our lives and the fear of death. It’s Good News because it does not depend on us. It is about God and his faithfulness to his own purposes and promises.
The gospel is all God’s doing. What a relief!
Lord God, thank you for sending Jesus. Thank you that my efforts and tears and striving are not what you require. You just want my simple, childlike faith. Today, I trust you once again for forgiveness from my sin and acceptance into your family. Thank you for loving me without conditions. Without you I am lost, but because of you I am adopted and adored. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Prayer Points for May 2021
1. Pray for Revival and Transformation for Australia
2. Pray for 1 Billion people worldwide to hear the Gospel
3. Share the Good News of Jesus with 5 people
Kurt is Canberra Declaration’s Features Editor. He also works as a primary school teacher and a freelance writer. He blogs at Cross + Culture and is a regular contributor at the Spectator Australia, MercatorNet, Caldron Pool and The Good Sauce, among other online publications.
Kurt has published a book, Cross and Culture: Can Jesus Save the West? with rigorous analysis of the modern malaise in Western society.
He has a particular interest in speaking the truths of Jesus into the public square in a way that makes sense to a secular culture and that gives Christians courage to do the same.
Kurt has also studied architecture, has lived for two years on a remote island in Indonesia, is fluent in several Indonesian languages, and among his other interests are philosophy, history, surf, the outdoors, and travel.
We invite you to join the daily 1-hour Zoom video National Prayer Call every night:
DATES: 1st–31st May 2021
TIME: 8pm-9pm AEST
ZOOM URL LINK: https://zoom.us/j/776881184
ZOOM MEETING ID: 776881184
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Daily devotions brought to you by the Canberra Declaration.