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A Four Question Test of the Gospel You Believe - Part 1

Written by  Jim Davis Thursday, 15 October 2015
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I once heard a preacher say. “80 to 90% of Christians are unacquainted with the gospel of grace.” That estimate is probably not far off the mark as evidenced by the large numbers of believers who are still trying to earn what God has freely given them. If you were to ask these people about grace they would declare, “Yes, I am saved by grace! I thank God for His grace!” But by their works they testify that God’s grace is still not enough. Grace may have gotten them started, but now it’s up to them to finish. Having begun with the Spirit they are now trying to attain their goal by human effort (Gal 3:3). Instead of working out what it means to be saved, they are working hard to stay saved.

How does this happen? Usually someone tells them that God won’t accept them or bless them or be pleased with them unless they perform for Jesus. Dead religious works are sold in every religious marketplace with respectable labels like “responsibility,” “good works,” “mission,” “sowing,” and “investing.” I am not against any of those things! What I am opposed to is the diabolical lie that says God’s favor depends on me doing them.

Do you know that you are saved by grace and kept by grace?

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him.” (Col 2:6)

How did you receive Him? By faith! How should you continue to live in Him? By faith! It’s faith in God’s grace from start to finish. Are you living by the faith of the Son of God? Or have you taken out a little works insurance?

the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Gal 2:20-21

As Watchman Nee put it, the choice is between trying and trusting. You can try or you can trust but you can’t do both. So, are you a tryer or a truster?

A couple of years ago, I read a simple test to help us determine whether the gospel message we’re trusting in is the same gospel that Jesus revealed and Paul preached. It’s a simple test. Just ask yourself the following four questions. If your answers are all yes, then rejoice, for you are living on pure, undiluted grace!

1.    Does this gospel cause me to fix my eyes exclusively on Jesus?

Does this message focus on me or does it cause me to fix my eyes on the Author and Finisher of my faith? Does it emphasize what I’m doing (or not doing), or does it emphasize His finished work on the cross? Does it make me introspective and anxious or Christ-conscious and grateful?

The true gospel will always seek to reveal more and more of Jesus. It took me years to realize this. When I began preaching in the 1970s, I preached the message of faith and all its benefits - if we build enough of it and use it properly (whatever that means). In the 1990’s I began to preach on the kingdom. I loved the kingdom and I still do. But I now realize that my love for the kingdom was really a love for the King. Now I just preach of this Great King who loves me and gave Himself for me. Now I just preach Jesus.

If you are a preacher and you need a message on healing? Then preach Jesus! Do you need a series on overcoming, giving, wisdom, holiness, faith, warfare, marriage, family life, outreach, helping the poor, deliverance, Leviticus, the Tabernacle, etc.? Then preach Jesus!

Whatever your need, your answer is found in Jesus and His finished work. That’s why Paul resolved to know nothing but “Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). Any message that doesn’t reveal Jesus will likely be a powerless substitute, a flesh-trip, and a wasted opportunity. Jesus is the supreme manifestation of the character and purpose of God. Any message that diminishes Jesus, insults the Spirit of grace. Jesus is peerless and nothing compares to Him. He has become for us wisdom from God and I will boast (preach) of nothing else (1 Cor 1:30-31).

2.    Does this gospel increase my dependence on Jesus?

Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Sadly, much is being done apart from Jesus and most of it will amount to nothing! Instead of healing the sick, raising the dead and driving out demons – the very things Jesus said His followers would do – we’re doing other stuff. And because we’re so busy doing other stuff we’re worn out and missing opportunities to do the works and greater works of Jesus.

Let me put your mind at rest right now: I guarantee that in your own strength you cannot heal the sick and raise the dead. Don’t even try. But Christ in you can do these and greater things! Do you trust Him? Working out your salvation with fear and trembling describes the adventure of learning to do impossible things with Jesus. Here’s the test: The true gospel will always inspire you to take risks in His Name, but a false gospel promotes activity in your own name.

So how is your gospel doing? Think on these things and in the next installment, we’ll look at two more test questions of your gospel.


Continue on to "PART 2"

Last modified on Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Jim Davis

Jim Davis

Jim Davis serves on the Leadership Team at Destiny Community Church. and is founder of Firm Foundation Ministries.  Jim's apostolic wisdom is a resource to many churches and leaders in the Body of Christ.

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