Okay, put your pitchforks and effigies down for just a second. Before you burn me at the stake as a heretic, let me explain myself.
Lately I’ve noticed that Christians in general (and I include myself in that number) have been equating the Father, Son, and Spirit with the gospel. For example, in a semi-popular book I was recently reading, the author kept talking about “the gospel at work in your life”. As the gospel works in our life, we become more like Christ. As the gospel works in our life, we love others more. As the gospel works in our life, we value the chuch more. You get the point.
Now, why does this bother me? Is this just another example of me being a nitpicky jerk who doesn’t have enough to do? Quite possibly. But I don’t think so. The reason this phenomenon bothers me is because it seems to rob the Trinity of some of their glory.
The gospel is the incredible, astounding message of salvation. It is the message that Jesus Christ has come, atoned for our sins, risen from the dead, ascended to heaven, and will return again. When we believe the gospel, all of our sins are forgiven, we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and we are united to Christ Jesus. The gospel is the good news that the way to God has been opened for all who believe in Christ.
BUT, once we believe the gospel, Christ himself comes to dwell in us. As it says in Colossians 1:27, the glorious mystery hidden for ages but now revealed is “Christ in you, the hope of glory”. When it comes to living out the Christian life, we have fellowship with the Father, are united to the Son, and walk by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The gospel does not make us more like Christ, the Holy Spirit makes us like Christ. The gospel does not give us power over sin, Jesus himself, dwelling in us, makes us more than conquerors. The gospel doesn’t give us power to love one another, the Holy Spirit binds us together.
The gospel connects us to God. It brings us into intimate fellowship with God. It enables us to be united to Christ. It allows us to be filled with the Spirit. But the gospel itself is a message. It is news. Good news. Wonderful news. But the news doesn’t change us. The gospel message is not what empowers us to live holy lives. The Father, Son, and Spirit do that.
We need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. We need to remind ourselves that our acceptance is based on Christ alone. Then we need to rejoice that because of the gospel, the Spirit is at work in us! We are joined to Jesus! We call God “Abba, Father”. That is some dang good news!
Okay, now I’ll go back to being a nitpicky jerk with not enough to do.
+photo Peat Bakke