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A Four Question Test of the Gospel You Believe - Part 2

Written by  Jim Davis Wednesday, 21 October 2015
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To read "Part 1" of this article, click here

Earlier, I offered the first part of 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. The first two questions were: Does this gospel cause me to fix my eyes exclusively on Jesus? And Does this gospel increase my dependence on Jesus? This article addresses the last two questions. If your answers to the four questions are all yes, then rejoice, for you are living on pure, undiluted grace!

3. Does this gospel empower me to overcome sin?

There are two ways to deal with sin; (1) preach law or (2) reveal grace. A law-based message will stir up the flesh in a human-powered quest for a change in behavior. This approach is inherently flawed - for the purpose of the law is to inflame sin (Rom 7:5). Thus, any “success” with this approach will only lead to the graver sins of pride, self-righteousness, and the truly fatal sin of unbelief in the grace of a good God. Ultimately the law is powerless to deal with sin because it leaves the heart untouched (Col 2:23). Worse, it releases condemnation (which some mistake for conviction) and ministers death, just as it was designed to do (2 Cor 3:7,9).

Grace declares that Jesus conquered all sin on the cross (Heb 9:26). You are not holy because of your behavior but because of His (1 Cor 1:30). A preacher of grace will deal very practically with sin by seeking to reveal your true identity in Christ. You are a new creation with a new nature. Your old sin software has been nailed to the cross and you are no longer sin’s slave (Rom 6:6,20). Appetites are dealt with by recognizing who you are in Christ and reckoning your old self as dead. Again, the focus is on Jesus, not you. Jesus was tempted in every way yet was without sin. As you rest in Him, you will find grace to help you in your time of need (Heb 4:15-16).

The law does not provide useful guidelines for Christian living. We turn rules into idols when we put our faith in them instead of Christ. The Bible is very clear; the law empowers sin (1 Cor 15:56) and only a revelation of God’s grace can teach us to say no to ungodliness (Titus 2:12). Here’s the test: a false gospel will keep you sin-conscious, but the true gospel will make you Christ-conscious. Which describes you? Are you sin-conscious or Christ-conscious?

4. Does this gospel release peace and joy?

The kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom 14:17). If the gospel you’re listening to doesn’t reveal Jesus and the gift of His righteousness, then you will never experience the peace and joy that comes with it. It really is all about Jesus. He took our sin and gave us His righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). This is what the gospel reveals: a righteousness that is from God and that is received by faith from first to last (Rom 1:17). When you know that God has made you as righteous as Jesus, you will be empowered to reign in life (Rom 5:17).

This test is actually about righteousness: Are you resting in His or are you trying to impress Him with yours? A false gospel will seek to manufacture righteousness through works and holy living. By prescribing a course of action for you to take, it will instantly fail the above three tests. It will burden you with loads you cannot carry and expectations you cannot live up to. Before you know it, you will be as stressed and joyless as Martha.

Here’s the test. If you stopped doing the things you are doing for Jesus, would you feel guilty? What if you sinned, stopped giving, or skipped church? I’m not encouraging you to do any of these things – sin is stupid. But someone who knows they are clothed with His righteousness will never battle guilt and condemnation. Even when they sin they will sense the Holy Spirit convicting them of their continued righteousness in Christ (John 16:10). Conversely, one who’s bought into a false gospel will never know lasting peace. Even when they have performed there will always be a sense of “but have I done enough?”

Paul began every one of his letters with the phrase, “Grace and peace to you from God the Father.” It is only a revelation of God’s favor that brings true peace. Know grace, know peace. Worldly peace is temporary, but the peace of God – that sense that everything is coming together for good because you belong to Jesus and His favor rests on you – passes understanding (Phil 4:7). It fortifies your heart and mind so that in all circumstances you find yourself overflowing with thankfulness (Col 2:7). No matter how severe your trial, you will be able to find rest – indeed, even joy – in His mighty, loving arms (Phil 4:4).

So how did your gospel do? If you honestly answered no to any of these four questions, then I have Good News for you…

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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