From the very beginning, God has existed in and been a part of community with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We see in the gospel that when Jesus began his ministry, he went and found 12 guys and told them to follow him. Placing them into community. As followers of Jesus, we are brought into biblical community with God, and according to the Bible, there is no part of life that we should be doing on our own.
The Word of God is the primary means by which God changes us. It speaks liberating truth to our enslaved hearts as we read it ourselves and as we speak it to others. How does that happen and how does God reinforce our faith through this grace?
The gospel is simultaneously at work in us and through us. Inwardly, our desires and motives are being changed as we repent and believe the gospel. As we experience Christ’s love in this way, we are compelled to engage those around us with the same kind of redemptive love. God’s grace brings renewal everywhere, in us and through us.
Following Jesus means preferring him to everything else. If we love something Jesus provides for us more than we love him then we are idolaters! Idolatry means we’ve made an idol out of something - we prefer it to Jesus. If we are to address the idols of our heart we are going to have to come to grips with our own weaknesses and we will have to expose to others.
Today we look at repentance. In our culture, this usually sounds like a bad thing, but repentance is the norm for gospel-centered living. Becoming more aware of God’s holiness and our sinfulness leads us to repent and believe the gospel of Jesus. Biblical repentance frees us from our own devices and makes a way for the power of the gospel to bear fruit in our lives.
We are continuing to think about how the gospel interacts with our lives, but now we turn to consider the gospel’s relationship to the law. What is the law? Does God expect me to obey it? What is the purpose of the law? How does the law help me to believe the gospel? How does the gospel help me to obey the law? These are the questions we’ll dive into today.
The Gospel-Centered Life series is intended to help Christians understand how the gospel shapes every aspect of life and conduct. Colossians 1:6 says that the gospel is “continually bearing fruit and increasing” in and among us, even after we first believe it. How does that happen? Why is a continual rediscovery and application of the gospel so important? How will our personal growth and missional life be stunted if we don’t grasp the gospel deeply? These are the questions that we are seeking to answer with this series and the resulting study in Community Groups.
Each of us tends to “shrink the cross,” which is to say that something is lacking in our understanding, appreciation, or application of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin. This manifests itself in two main ways: pretending and performing. Pretending minimizes sin by making ourselves out to be something we are not. Performing minimizes God’s holiness by reducing his standard to something we can meet, thereby meriting his favor. Both are rooted in an inadequate view of God’s holiness and our identity.
If the gospel is constantly “bearing fruit and growing” (Col. 1:6), then everything has to do with the gospel—God, humanity, salvation, worship, relationships, shopping, recreation, work, personality...everything! The objective of this first part of the series is to establish a framework for talking about the gospel. This framework will get worked out in greater detail over the next two weeks, so this lesson is designed to help us understand the concepts and begin exploring how they relate to actual life.
In John 4 we see Jesus have an unlikely interaction with a woman at a well. Jesus pursues this woman with intentionality, with compassion and with the truth and it changes everything for this woman and an entire town. How does his pursuit of us motivate our pursuit of one another?
We come now to the end of Exodus and see God’s promise to dwell with his people fulfilled as he fills the tabernacle...and all of this points us to a greater Exodus and to a time where God will dwell with his people in an even more unique and profound way.
Just like the Israelites, we run. We fall into the same pattern of behavior that humans have been falling into since our first father and mother fell into sin in the garden. Our hearts are idol-factories that make things far worse than the Israelites’ golden calf. What we need is our sin atoned for, and only Jesus can fully cover our failings.