I talk an awful lot about culture and our response to it as believers. I do it to reach, I hope, an audience of new Christians, non-Christians and people who are looking for a different kind of Christianity than, perhaps, they are accustomed to. I talk a lot about culture, but today, I just want to talk about the Bible. After all, it's where I get all the other stuff from.
Much is made of the big parts of the Bible: John 3:16, Psalm 23, Philippians 4:13, Romans 8:28 and many more, but for me at least, it's more often the lesser known verses that will reach out and grab me. For example, I was recently reading in Titus chapter two, which is less widely known than the Apostle Paul's instruction to Titus on elder qualifications in chapter one. Chapter two focuses on the importance of teaching sound doctrine, but then near the end, I was treated to this:
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works."
This section struck me particularly hard this week, aside from being reminded that the Apostle Paul was the king of run-on sentences (seriously, that passage is one sentence but four verses!) I was reminded yet again that the transformation of the gospel in our lives is what ought to motivate us believers to live the way we do. Let me break Paul's crazy sentence down and show you what I mean.
What The Gospel Does
When Paul talks about the grace of God appearing, what he's referencing there is the Gospel itself and Jesus in particular. You can read that section like this: "The Grace of God has appeared, the gospel of Jesus Christ which brings salvation for all people..." this is in it's simplest form, what the gospel does. It saves us. The death and resurrection of Jesus allows us to live in relationship and community with God. This is the single most important thing the gospel does. If the gospel did nothing else (spoiler alert, it does much more) this would be enough. The Gospel saves us, but what else does it do?
The Gospel Trains
Sometimes theologians and Pastors use the word "gospel" too much. I don't mean that in a negative way at all, it's just that sometimes, when we say "gospel" in English, we lose the meaning of the word. The word "gospel" comes from the Greek "euangelion" which literally translates to "good message" or good news. Paul is saying here that the good news about Jesus is what trains us, what teaches us, in how to live godly lives. This is true whether you are in first century Judea or twenty first century North America. The good news of our salvation in Christ is what teaches us, it's what moves us. It is our motivation and we strive to live righteously as a result of the good news of Jesus and its impact on our life. Righteous behaviour is the result of the Gospel, not its prerequisite.
The Gospel Gives Hope
Why do we live these righteous lives out of a thankful heart? Because we have hope. We have hope, yes, that Jesus will return to make all things new, but we also have hope that the brokenness of this world will pass away. That as the good news moves forward and reaches more and new people that it will impact them to live righteously as a response as well. It's hope for me, for you, and for everyone we love.
It's a loop, a gospel loop, and it's such good news.