What does the Gospel mean to you? I’ve been thinking about this all week in preparation for a meeting this Sunday. To me, it boils down to Religion vs Relationship. It’s the difference between ceremony and connection, liturgy and linkage, ritual and relationship. For Religion is mostly man-made, piling on the things we can’t do…while a Relationship with Jesus Christ is about freedom. It’s about freedom from sin and death and freedom from the Law we can never keep. But the biggest difference between Religion and Relationship is this…Religion can’t save you. Only Jesus Christ who lived a perfectly sinless life has the ability to bring you into His glorious Kingdom and eternal life…it’s only through Jesus that you can make your way back to God.
Think back a moment to your “BC” days. (Before Christ) Maybe you had heard about Jesus, but He was far from what you wanted in your life back then. You were content to be in charge…doing things your own way. But in your rebellion you were also alienated from God…spiritually dead and blithely headed to Hell. It was while you were still estranged from God that He reconciled you to Himself through Christ. (II Corinthians 5:18-19) It was while you were still in rebellion that Jesus redeemed you… taking on Himself your sins that you may have a right relationship with God…and eternal life. The bottom line is…long before you were thinking about God…He was thinking about you.
God does not desire nor does He delight in the eternal damnation of the wicked. He has given all of us a free will to chose our own actions and behaviors, but in this verse God is imploring us to reconsider our choices…and sadly, the consequences that come along with them.
Jesus Christ is the Great High Priest who became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him…(Hebrews 5:9) No longer did we have to keep offering the same sacrifices to remove our sins…for the truth is we can’t on our own abolish our sins…only the blood of Jesus can once, for all, do that.
Great and mighty is Your name, O Lord, for Your magnificent glory is on display for all to see. We thank you today for Your love and mercy…and praise You for all You’ve done for us. We lift Your name on high, for only You rule and reign over heaven and earth. Amen.
No one walks casually into the Olympic Games and announces they’ve decided for the fun of it to compete in a race. Olympic athletes train for years…fully committed in all aspects of their lives with concentration and drive. And in the end for a few, their heroic struggle pays off with a gold medal. Our Christian life is one of training daily and fighting for victory over temptation. James 1:12 tells us, ” Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” We are in training for a crown of life, a crown of glory that will never fade away, and eternal victory.
In these verses the Apostle Paul is encouraging the Church in Corinth to not give up in doing the Lord’s work, no matter how unimportant it may seem. Even today in this goal oriented world, we want anything we do for the Lord to have measurable outcomes. So if we aren’t achieving specific concrete results, we feel that our work is insignificant. But Paul addresses this notion earlier in his letter when he writes, ” What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (I Corinthians 3: 5-6) We need to realize that God’s purpose is in the process not in His final goal. And each one of us have a unique role to play in this process. For nothing we’ll ever do in the name of the Lord is futile or pointless….and no matter how big or small the task, will it ever be a waste of time when it comes to Kingdom work. For as long as we are obedient and persevere in the race the Lord has laid out before us, we will be victorious.