Blazing With Passion for the Gospel of Christ
What I’m about to say might be the most important thing I’ve ever written on this blog. I’m not saying I’m perfect…all I’m saying is that God has been teaching me awesome things lately and I want to share what I’ve learned. I do not exaggerate at all when I say that I want myself and everyone else to begin to grasp these truths more than anything!
Jesus is clear that He wants passionate, committed followers. He’s not after half-hearted, fair-weather Christians. He wants us to love the gospel not just as another good truth, but as ten million times more precious to us than any other truth in the world! He wants our lives to be completely transformed. Just read Revelation 3:15-16. The comforting reality is that Jesus will change those of us who are true believers so that we will treasure Him and His gospel above everything else (Philippians 1:6). Isn’t that a wonderful truth?
But we know from experience that being conformed to the image of Christ is far from easy. He wants us to realize that nothing else in life compares to the satisfaction of knowing and trusting Him. In that process, He has to rip idols out of our hearts so that He can have first place. He has to trample our fleshly passions like dust so that we will settle for nothing less than Him. I can promise you from personal experience that those of us who treasure Christ will experience pain as He begins to set us ablaze with passion for Himself and His gospel. Yet I can also promise you (get this!) that when the pain of our spiritual “kindling” starts to subside, we will begin to burn with a deep, all-satisfying, unspeakably joy-filled happiness in Jesus that will sustain us no matter what circumstances God calls us to face. More than anything, that is the kind of joy that I want myself and every believer to realize. We will never be perfect, but God will keep working on us!
Let me give you one practical application of this. There are so many facets of the gospel that I can’t begin to elaborate on them all…but there is one particularly sweet aspect of the grace of God that has been my rock this past week.
Maybe some of you are like me. I have a tendency to beat myself up over my sin. When I sin, there are times when I can’t stop feeling guilty about it, or obsessing over what other people might think of me, or how they might react. I loathe realizing that I’ve offended someone I care about. Sometimes it’s hard to shake the feeling that whatever I’ve done is “just too wrong” to be forgiven by God. Do you tend to be (like me) a “self-basher”? I want you to know that I understand where you’re coming from. I understand the intensity of the paralyzing panic, pain, frustration, guilt, fear of man, and uncertainty that so easily grips your soul sometimes. I’m still in that place often, and it really does hurt.
Over this last week, God reminded me once again that I am not trusting the gospel when I feel that way. In other words, the gospel (by which I am saved!) is not based upon guilt. The gospel is based upon complete liberation and joy and peace with God through Christ! Because He has taken my shame away, I don’t have to obsess over my depravity anymore. Through the cross, I can give all my guilt to Jesus. This is what the Bible says. Don’t breeze over these verses; let them sink in! This is the most important part of this post.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17
[God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:21
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. – Psalm 34:5
If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? – Romans 8:31-32
That is God’s description of those of us who have trusted Christ. IT IS FINISHED! No more paralyzing guilt…only grace. No more fear of man…only grace. No more frustration…only grace. No more bo.nda.ge to sin…only grace. I can’t make you feel the weight of that. I can’t even do that work in myself! I can only encourage you (as I encourage myself) to think deeply about what Jesus has done for us and all we have in Him. As we do that, I pray that He will help you and I really, really come to love and live the gospel. This world will truly look different when we get it.
O God, would you be so kind as to make these gospel realities more than just words on a page to us. Help us to savor these truths and practically apply them to our everyday lives. Make us intensely thankful for what You have done for us through Your Son, and make our joy overflow to the world around us. We want to be changed. Do whatever You have to do to set us ablaze for You, and keep us burning forever. I pray all these things because of Jesus. Amen.