Don’t settle for a scaled-down gospel.
Columbus is construction ga-ga right now. I drove through a previously undeveloped area where rabbits had lived in tall grass and occasionally got squashed running across the road. Now a gigantic building sits there.
I didn’t see the construction process taking place over the months, so I’m prone to minimize it. As far as I’m concerned, a crew poured concrete, laid bricks, and a small army of guys with tool belts relentlessly hammered nails until they finished the building.
That of course, is overly simple.
But it’s also the way we Christians sometimes describe our salvation:
“God loved me, and saved me. Since that time, I haven’t been perfect, but he accepts me just the way I am. When I die, He’ll take me to heaven.”
That isn’t wrong. It’s just vague and minimalistic.
The fact is, God has accomplished a massive work in order to get us into glory.
That’s what we see when we read Romans—a full salvation. In fact, the first chapter and verse calls this letter, “The gospel of God.” It is full of moves, with God moving us out of one place and into another.
The first move was to get us out of wrath, and into grace. At one point, because of our many sins, we were under the condemnation of God. But in Romans 3, Jesus accomplished redemption for us, which we received through faith. According to Romans 5, now we stand in grace, and boast in the hope of the glory of God.
Many Christians stop right there, satisfied with the arrangement, and its apparent simplicity. This is as far as the gospel goes for them. Grace has rescued them from hell. However, they often find it hard to answer the next question, which is, “If grace is so great, then why not sin?”
Only a fuller salvation can give an answer.
God’s deeper move, bundled as it is, into His grace, was to get us out of Adam, into Christ. Chapters 5 and 6 show us that our old identity in Adam died with Christ. Now we’ve been put into Christ’s death and resurrection so we could live a new life.
More advanced Christians stop here. They know the theological concepts, read all the books, attend all the conferences, but end up with a theoretical faith. They’re like the guy who knows how to construct a computer from scratch, but has never powered one up, had the electricity crackle through the circuit boards, seen the light come on, the system boot-up, and run software applications. They lack power for living.
Full salvation goes on to answer their dilemma by showing us in Romans 8 that God has taken us out of the flesh and put us into the Spirit. The Spirit makes actual our co-death and resurrection with Jesus. Now we can live that reality all the way into glory.
Some fairly spiritual believers stop here, but they’re still stopping short of God’s best.
Romans has 16 chapters, not just 8…
To be continued