Being a Craftsman of the Gospel

I am digging into Galatians again as I help kick-off and start a Mens Ministry at my Church.

I am considering what it means to be a craftsman of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Paul (an almost apostle) was astonished to see Peter (an apostle) “not acting in line with the truth of the gospel”. Paul actually re-reminds entire bodies of Jesus’ Church and now in Galatians even the apostle Peter about how we are saved by ONLY the Gospel and not by our works, beliefs, culture, race, or socioeconomic status several times in scripture!!!!

If you ever consider Pauls correction of Peter you have to ask yourself if Peter, an apostle,  could not get this gospel equation just right in how he lived and acted toward other people  what is the possibility of ME not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel?   In my opinion the possibility of someone not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel is VERY high. The difference between some people and other people is at least some people know they are off-track and if you understand true north, the Gospel, then you at least have a chance of correcting course. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand how far off course they really are!   We need to remind and re-remind each other of the Gospel continuously because we will eventually fall back into works based righteousness like Peter did!

In Galatians, first, Paul is showing us that that bringing the gospel truth to bear on every area of life is the way to be changed by the power of God. The gospel is described in the Bible in the most astounding terms. Angels long to look into it all the time. (I Peter 1:12). It does not simply bring us power, but it is the power of God itself, for Paul says “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation” (Rom.1:16). It is also the blessing of God with benefits, which accrue to anyone who comes near (I Cor.9:23). It is even called the very light of the glory of God itself–“they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…for God…has made his light shine into our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Cor.4:4,6)

It has the life of God. Paul said to the Corinthians, “I gave you birth through the gospel”! And then, after it has regenerated us, it is the instrument of all continual growth and spiritual progress after we are converted. “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” (Col. 1:6). Here we learn: 1) That the gospel is a living thing (cf. Romans 1:16) which is like a seed or a tree that brings more and more new life–bearing fruit and growing. 2) That the gospel is only “planted” in us so as to bear fruit as we understand its greatness and implications deeply—understood God’s grace in all its truth. 3) That the gospel continues to grow in us and renew us throughout our lives–as it has been doing since the day you heard it. This text helps us avoid either an exclusively rationalistic or mystical approach to renewal. On the one hand, the gospel has a content–it is profound doctrine. It is truth, and specifically, it is the truth about God’s grace. But on the other hand, this truth is a living power that continually expands its influence in our lives, just as a crop or a tree would grow and spread and dominate more and more of an area with roots and fruit.

The sufficiency of the gospel. Second, Paul is showing that we never “get beyond the gospel” in our Christian life to something more “advanced”. Paul even has to remind another apostle and correct Peter in his understanding of the gospel!!!! The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.

We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience, but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal.3:13) and are renewed (Col.1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom.1:16-17). It is very common in the church to think as follows. “The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience.” But Col.1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and “hard work” that is not arising from and “in line” with the gospel will not sanctify you–it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. Thus when Paul left the Ephesians he committed them “to the word of his grace, which can build you up” (Acts 20:32)

The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel–a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine….Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” (on Gal.2:14f) The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual rediscovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel-seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church.

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