The Gospel Gap
“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved…“ – Vs -12 NASB
Paul was writing to believers in the city of Corinth. These people already had a relationship with Jesus Christ. They had already placed their faith in His atoning work on the cross. But Paul finds it necessary to remind them about the gospel message that he had preached to them initially. He says it is the same message “by which also you are saved.” He then goes on to explain once again what that message included:
• Christ died for our sins (Vs 3)
• He was buried (Vs 4)
• He was raised on the third day (Vs 4)
• We have eye-witness proof of His resurrection(Vs 5-7)
• He also appeared to Paul (Vs 8)
This message is the basis of their salvation. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is what we place our hope on for the future. His resurrection is central to our faith. Without it, “our preaching is in vain, your faith also is vain” (Vs 14 NASB). “And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless, and you are still under condemnation for your sins” (Vs 17 NLT). The message of the resurrection of Christ is a non-negotiable element of the gospel story. There is no story without it.
But not only does the gospel save us, it continues to save us. This is not a one-time deal. We aren’t just saved at the moment we place our faith in Christ. We are being saved daily. The gospel story goes on. The Good News is ongoing good news. It didn’t stop at my conversion, but continues on through my transformation or sanctification into Christ-likeness, and will not stop until my ultimate glorification when the Lord returns. The gospel is more than just a ticket to heaven. It is the means by which I live the life I have been called to live. It is the story of redemption and restoration that is ongoing in my life every day. I must go back to the message that “Christ died for our sins” each and every day. When I sin today, and I will (in fact, I already have), I must go back to the cross and remind myself that He died for that sin as well. He has paid for that sin. I must confess it, repent of it (turn from it), and accept His forgiveness for it. I must daily take my sin back to the cross and be reminded of the price He paid there so that I would be free from slavery to sin in my life. The cross reminds me that I am free. I don’t have to pay for my sin, because He already has.
Paul tells the Corinthians that not only are they saved by the gospel, they STAND on the gospel. “Now let me remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is built on this wonderful message” (Vs 1 NLT). We stand on the gospel message every day of our lives. It is our foundation for living in this world. The Greek word for “stand” is hestime and it has a range of meanings. But I think Paul has in mind the idea of “to cause a person or a thing to keep his or its place.” The message of the gospel causes us to remain firm even in the midst of all the uncertainties of life. We go back to the gospel each and every day and find our hope, assurance, and comfort. He really did die for my sins. He really did pay the price I couldn’t pay. He really did rise again. He really does sit at the right hand of the Father. He really is coming again some day.
But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man, Christ. Everyone dies because all of us are related to Adam, the first man. But all who are related to Christ, the other man, will be given new life. – 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 NLT
We are saved by the gospel. We stand on the gospel. It is our hope from beginning to end. In his book Respectable Sins, Jerry bridges talks about preaching the gospel to himself daily. Here is how he describes it:
“Since the gospel is only for sinners, I begin each day with the realization that despite my being a saint, I still sin every day in thought, word, deed, and motive. If I am aware of any subtle, or not so subtle, sins in my life, I acknowledge those to God. Even if my conscience is not indicting me for conscious sins, I still acknowledge to God that I have not even come close to loving Him with all my being or loving my neighbor as myself. I repent of those sins, and then I apply specific Scriptures that assure me of God’s forgiveness to those sins I have just confessed.
I then generalize the Scripture’s promises of God’s forgiveness to all my life and say to God words to the effect that my only hope of a right standing with Him that day is Jesus’ blood shed for my sins, and His righteous life lived on my behalf. This reliance on the twofold work of Christ for me is beautifully captured by Edward Mote in his hymn “The Solid Rock” with his words, “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” Almost every day, I find myself going to those words in addition to reflecting on the promises of forgiveness in the Bible.”
Stand on the gospel. It is a firm foundation, the solid rock, a reliable resource for life in this world.
Father, thank You for the gospel.Thank You that I can stand on it every day for what I face in this life. Let me preach it to myself daily. Let me never forget that through the gospel, You have given “everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3 NLT). Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men