NOTE FOR 12/24: There will be a combined bilingual Christmas worship service at 10 am. | 中文

Pastoral Reflection: How the Gospel Changes Us (part 2) – Our Salvation

We started a new reflection series last week. In this series we are considering how the Gospel transforms us. This is not just an academic question. There are some who may have been Christians for many years and yet still have trouble allowing the Gospel into different areas of our lives. We are going to consider the ways that the Gospel truly transforms us.

Last week we considered how the Gospel is not just an exercise in right belief. Correct doctrine is important, but unless the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection impacts the heart (our desires and the will), it just remains information. But before we begin to unpack the Gospel and its impact, we must understand why the Gospel is Good News. By God’s grace, the Holy Spirit takes information that we are given and gives it life. Christianity is not a dead religion of just rules and regulations. It is life giving and fuels us to live a life of freedom and purpose.

In his book, Gospel Fluency, Jeff Vanderstelt dedicates a few chapters to help us understand what is the Gospel. In essence, the Bible’s story tells us that God is the creator and ruler of the Universe. He created humanity with a unique role- to be his representatives and ambassadors to all creation. However, instead of delighting in and trusting God, humanity rebelled. We wanted to rule apart from God. As a result, all of creation fell. Death, sin and decay were introduced into the world. But God did not abandon his people to this fate. He enacted a plan to bring restoration by sending Jesus into the world to live the life we should have lived and to take the punishment that we deserved. As a result, anyone who would turn to God and trust Jesus’actions for us can experience a new life with a restored relationship with God. One day Christ will return and restore not just his people, but also all of creation.

This is called the Gospel. It means, ͞Good News͟. It is good news because while we were unable to clean ourselves up or make ourselves right before God, God rescued us. That’s why Jesus is rightly called the Savior. But what are we saved from? To be saved means to be rescued from danger. What danger? Perhaps a reason we may struggle with feeling the emotional impact of our faith is because we don’t know the danger or the threats that we have been rescued from. Vanderstelt outlines five things that Jesus saved us from. Jesus lived the perfect life of obedience so we could be saved from striving to live that life on our own. As Christians we are called to strive for holiness, purity and excellence (2 Tim. 2:2, Heb. 12:14). However, our striving is not because we earn our way into heaven. Christ has done that for us. So we strive because that is what God has saved us for. But we are not to do this in our own strength. It is Christ who lives in us who does this work in us. We can cease trying to live the perfect life in our own power and through our own efforts. We can rest because Christ’s righteous record has been given to us and His Spirit is working in us.

Jesus came to set captives free from slavery to Satan and sin. When Jesus was on earth, he faced temptation from the devil and from living in a sinful world. Jesus overcame and resisted the temptations. In doing so he extends his ownership over his people. We are not ruled by sin and at the mercy of Satan. Christ broke the power of sin and defeated Satan through the cross and demonstrated his victory at his resurrection.

Jesus died in our place to save us from the wrath of God and the penalty of sin. He saves us from spiritual, relational, and physical death. Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sin. He took God’s wrath upon himself. That means for those who have faith in Jesus, God no longer sees us as those who are deserving of punishment.That punishment went to Jesus. That means that we can have a relationship with God without fear of punishment.

Jesus ascended into heaven and saves us from living in the depths of sin by raising us and seating us with him in the heavenly realms. As followers of Christ, part of us is with him. He has given us blessings of freedom and has overcome our sin. He is reigning and watching over us. One day we will reign with him. So we have hope in dealing with our present sin and hope for our future.

Jesus saves us from our old life of sin…to a new life and a new identity, a new purpose, and a new power. We are not bound to our old way of life any longer. We are not the same people we were before. Our identities are bound up in him. Vanderstelt says, ͞not only are we declared righteous, but we also can live righteous lives. Not only are we called holy, but we can live as God’s holy people. We are new! We are alive! We are free!

Perhaps it has been some time that you have enjoyed the salvation gift that God has provided for you. Perhaps old habits and sins that you can’t seem to change make your faith shaky. My prayer for you is that you would allow the Gospel to speak truth into your heart and your life and that you would take hold of this Good News and believe it. May God work through his Spirit to help you believe what has been declared from the Scriptures.