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Thursday, March 15, 2012

The True Effect of the Gospel

 Galatians 6:14-15 (NIV)
14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.

Something happened to me when I gave my life to Christ. I was changed in ways that I cannot explain. My motivations changed. My life was changed. The things I had no interest in became vital. Some of the things I had previously considered vital held no interest for me.

The  Cross changed me. I realized the necessity for the death of Jesus for my sins. I realized that He suffered greatly because my sins were horrible in the presence of God. I realized that I could come to Him only because of the Cross. I realized that I could not improve myself to the point of gaining access to God.

So I'll cherish the old, rugged cross,
   Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old, rugged cross,
   and exchange it someday for a crown.

I can only boast in the Cross for by the Cross my life was changed. On the Cross I was crucified with my Savior for I died to this world and it died to me.

The world is no longer my home. It holds no allusions of permanence. It cannot condemn me. It does not hold my ultimate future. It is as if it is dead to me.

I am crucified to the world. I am dead to the world. It cannot gain what I have from me. This world will pass away. It will not come with me as I go to my Savior. I am dead to it because it cannot remain as it is and be changed.

Coming to Christ is a mystery that cannot be easily explained to those who observe others becoming believers. They see us as brain washed, neurotic (or possibly psychotic), half-witted or delusional. They cannot imagine why we believe and point to the flaws in those who live a totally hypocritical faith. They believe that many of us are simply liars who use the talk of faith to manipulate those who are brain washed, neurotic, half-witted and delusional.

They cannot understand us because the world has been crucified to us and we to the world. This world is all they have. It is the only heaven they will ever know.

The mystery of the Cross is in its power to change. I, an unlikely believer, became one who sought the Lord when I had no interest. I became one whose actions were changed rather than one who simply tried to change his actions. I became one whose spirit communicates with God from one who had never heard from Him.

Lots of unchurched people visit our church. I believe it is because God is calling them to Himself. They talk to me in worldly terms. (How else could they talk if they do not yet know the Lord?) They struggle in getting past their worldly paradigm because they have no other paradigm. Amazing things happen to them when they commit their lives to Jesus.

One wrote me an email stating, "Something has changed me. I used to never want to read the Bible but now I desperately want to. I used to never want to speak of spiritual things but now I want to learn more and more. I used to hate church and now I love it!" (I know I put it in quotes but I changed the wording as not to embarrass the person who wrote it to me. They are embarrassed because they may see me as praising them rather than the change brought about in them.) I baptized this person as a friend read her testimony.

The Christian life is not about living a lifestyle out of your own strength. It is being changed by the presence of Christ in your life. Salvation is not merely about going to heaven someday. It is not living a life worthy of heaven. It is accepting the changes brought about by the Spirit working in you. It does not come because you have read a book, heard a sermon or even prayed a prayer. It comes because the One who died on the Cross enters your life to make you into a new creation. You are not just better. You are completely different!

And this is the true effect of the gospel.

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