† The Gospel, Part 3 †
How does God cause us to respond to His Gospel?
We love God because He first loved us. Our Lord is at work in us both to will and to do what is pleasing to Him. Christians look to the Ten Commandments to know what is pleasing to God and wish to serve Him in gratitude for the great salvation that is theirs in Christ.
From the Word of God we learn that God wants us to put Him first, above any other person or thing, to respect His name and not misuse it, to hear and obey His Word. Children are to honor and obey their parents and others in authority. We are to look out for the welfare of others, doing nothing to hurt or harm our neighbor. We are to live sexually pure and decent lives, with husbands and wives loving and honoring each another. In looking out for our neighbour’s welfare and helping him to improve and protect his property and business, we are also to take care not to lie about our neighbour, but to help, support and defend him in every need, and, finally, we are to be content with what we have been given, and not want what is not ours.
What a joyful privilege we have to serve God and others! He gives us the opportunity to bear witness to our faith through both our words and our deeds.
How is the Gospel obscured?
The Gospel is obscured by well-intentioned people who want to encourage a life of good works, and end up making Christians think that it is by their works that they are saved. This is a great danger. Through His Word and Sacraments, Jesus is constantly working in our lives to forgive our sins and strengthen our relationship with God.
God always receives the credit for our salvation. He is the one working in us. This is not something we can do. Our good works are the result of God’s love in our hearts and lives. Our good works in this life do not save us, only Christ saves us. Works serve our neighbor and show to the world that we are grateful for God’s mercy in our lives.
Another way the Gospel can be obscured is when too much emphasis is put on an emotional response to the Gospel. Some Christians believe that unless they have some sort of ecstatic, charismatic experience, or feel some sort of “spiritual high,” they are not really Christians. It is truly sad that some people look into their own hearts for the security that they are children of God, instead of putting their hope and trust in the objective work of Christ for them, and in the means God uses to come to them—His Word and Sacraments.
If we find ourselves beginning to ask, “Am I doing enough?” or thinking,“ It doesn’t matter what I do, for God will forgive me anyway,” then we are at risk of losing Christ and His forgiveness. We look always to Jesus and put our hope and trust in Him. He is our Savior. And that’s good news! All blessing, honor, thanks and praise to Father, Son and Spirit, the God who saved us by His grace. All glory to His merit! O triune God in heaven above, you have revealed your saving love. Your blessed name we hallow.
from Dr. A.L. Barry’s “What About the Gospel?”
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