His work or mine?

Gospel. As Christians, we mention the word quite often, and we know it means “good news”.

If we believe that the gospel is indeed good news, then why is it good?

John 3:16 is the most famous verse in the whole of the Bible, even most non-Christians know it.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”.

What a fantastic statement! but unfortunately even as Christians, we may add conditions to it.

After the words “whoever believes” we are often compelled to insert some type of “works”. Works simply mean any effort on my behalf to save myself or be to be acceptable to God.

If the Gospel is considered good news, then this idea of saving myself is not the Gospel. In fact, the idea of saving myself is certainly bad news.

God made mankind aware of what pleasing Him looked like when He presented Moses with the Law.

The job of the Law was to only define exactly what wrong behaviour or sin looked like. It was never given to save us.

Jesus Himself summed up the Law in Luke 10:27 when a lawyer wanted to put Him to the test by asking Him “what shall I do to inherit eternal life”.

Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.

Despite what the religious people of Jesus’ day believed, the Law was based on love, not just external actions. Jesus expanded on this idea with the Sermon on the Mount, which dealt with our thoughts as well as behaviour.

Being right with God is loving God and thinking appropriately about Him always. We demonstrate we love God also by the way we love others.

When Romans 3:23 reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” it means that all of us have failed to give God the glory He deserves and love others as He loves them.

Only Jesus did this. His mission was to meet God’s expectations on our behalf – His success is our success if we just trust Him.

That’s why Christianity is so different from the religions of the world. It depends on what someone else has done.

I believe one of the most profound statements in the Bible is what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 1:16.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek”.

Notice the words “God’s power”?

That is why the Gospel is good news, it is God’s power!

It is God who has done it. Salvation is His idea. He initiated salvation by sending His Son, the Son agreed but it was the Father’s initiative to send Him.

So often we it get the wrong way around. We start with ourselves. But we must always start with God and His plan, His action and never forget His power to achieve all He sets out to do.

If salvation is of God it will not fail, because it is Him exercising His plan of salvation for us through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.

Salvation does not depend on us!

We must not even boast in our faith, it is not our faith that saves, it is Jesus Christ’s work at the cross that saves us, faith is simply the instrument that receives God’s grace towards us.

We need to be just like little children who are able to receive without assuming that they have earned what is rightfully theirs.

What is even more exciting about the Christian life is that God’s power is being exercised in our lives daily. Romans 1:17 teaches “But the righteous man shall live by faith”.

Another way of stating this same idea would be “But he who is righteous by faith shall live”.

By faith, we are righteous in the eyes of God because of Christ, and by faith, we have the power of God to live righteously also.

The same truth is taught in Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

In Philippians 2:12 Paul encourages the brethren to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. Some people have been taught that Paul is implying that our salvation can be lost.

The reality is that Paul is teaching the complete opposite. He points out in the following verse that “it is God who is at work in you, both to will and work for His good pleasure”.

It is the power of God that compels us to obey Him through love, it is also His power that enables us to obey. God is bringing this about Himself, which is so comforting.

“Fear and trembling” emphasises the critical importance of understanding this Biblical truth.

The gospel is good news because it is God’s idea, He initiates it, enables it, maintains it and completes it when we finally arrive in heaven and see Him in all His glory.

This is salvation, the power of God, we must start with God first and not ourselves in all things.

The gospel is the power of God for salvation. It is His work, not ours – and this is good news.

Author: Wayne Attenborrow

Photograph: Wayne Attenborrow

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