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.
God has the power to punish mankind…yet He refrains from doing so. Romans 2:4 tells us it’s the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience that stops Him from giving us what we deserve…quite simply, Hell and eternal separation from Him. His mercy and long-suffering are blessings we need to consider and seriously think about then, for God’s patience can last only so long…and sooner or later His judgement will come.
Discipleship is so much more than just spitting out information to a unsaved friend. It involves becoming a mentor for the long-haul and modeling your values and beliefs in order to help shape the character of this person. For the Great Commission is more about relationships than rhetoric. It’s more about building a bond of mutual enjoyment between teacher and student…that the student may see the love of Jesus and desire Him in their life also.
Something happens to us as we learn to trust the Lord. Our reliance on our-self diminishes as our dependence on Him increases. Our old self, with all its baggage, slowly falls away as we learn to trust and have confidence in Him and His plan for our life. And as we’re changed from the inside out, true joy, happiness, and hope fill us to overflowing…and we too can then join in this song of praise from Moses and Miriam.
Psalm 146:3 puts it another way, “Don’t put your trust in mortal men who cannot save.” Anytime we put more confidence in another human being rather than God…we’re headed for trouble. For no matter how powerful, charismatic, or appealing someone is…they’re still a mortal being…full of a fallen nature just like us. So we need to be very careful not to get sucked into worshiping man… and not God. For no man can offer us deliverance from sin and eternal salvation. Only God can do that through His Son Jesus Christ.
I Timothy 2:3-4 tells us that God wants all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. But it also tells us in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” So whether we want to admit it or not – we know what’s right and wrong. God’s unearned and unmerited favor is for all. But when we reject God’s truth, we become estranged from Him, having no excuse except our selfish Will.
Everyday God is using us for His purposes…just as He used Jesus Christ in the supreme purpose of our salvation. But if we seek greatness for ourselves…we stop God from using us. As long as we have personal interests and ambitions…as long as we attach “I” or “Mine” to our work…we can’t be completely aligned and identified with God. It’s not until we can honestly say, “My purpose in life is now God’s purpose.” that the Lord can pour into us divine thoughts, plans and intentions that will further His Kingdom.