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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jackie Minor

THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL. A Changed Life Worth Embracing

Over the weekend, I had a deeply moving experience listening to an Easter sermon given by Rob Warren, Lead Pastor of Doxa Church in Madison, Wisconsin (see the link at the end of this blog). It wasn’t just what he said that left me undone; it was what I witnessed toward the end of the service. Following the message, the church had scheduled baptisms. A video was shown of individuals who were scheduled to be baptized giving their personal testimonies. Just before the beginning of the baptisms, Pastor Warren made the following comment:


“You can disagree with everything I said from this Bible this morning, but you can’t disagree with this wall full of people and how they have experienced the power of the resurrected Jesus, how he has changed their lives.”


Changed lives! As I witnessed these new believers beginning their spiritual journey with Christ, I silently prayed, “Oh Lord, don’t let them forget the Gospel; the Good News; the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Let the message of Easter be their continued pathway to a changed life.”  Change isn’t always easy, but a life changed by the Gospel is change worth embracing!


I have heard the Easter story since I was a child. However, each time I hear it, the message goes a little deeper, becomes a little clearer, and ignites new change in my life. This year, more than any other, I am beginning to understand why it is so critical to keep the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the forefront of our thinking. We talk about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus during the Easter season, but if this truth does not become embedded in our hearts and minds on a daily basis, I fear we will never discover our true self and experience the transformed life Christ died to give us.


How does it all work?  How should the Gospel change us? The answer is pretty exciting because we aren’t just talking about an initial change. We are talking about an ongoing change during the remainder of our lives here and a future change in eternity! Unlike the unwanted changes many of us face in our workplaces, these changes are worth embracing!  Before we dig into how the Gospel changes use, let’s first make sure we are all clear on what the Gospel actually is.  Let’s begin by examining Paul’s description.


Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it…I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.  He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.               1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4


The word “Gospel” comes from the Greek word euangelion, which literally means good news. When Paul said he was preaching the Good News to the Corinthians, he was reminding them to stand firm on three important truths.


1.      The perfect Son of God—Jesus Christ—died and was buried.

2.      Jesus’ death made payment for our sin.

3.      Jesus was raised on the third day claiming victory over sin and death.


That’s it! This is the Good News, and this is why Jesus began His earthly ministry by preaching, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (John 4:17). Jesus knew that what He came to do would be the only way to make us right with God and give us access to the Kingdom of Heaven (2 Corinthians 5:21). Isn’t this good news?  You bet it is, but there is more! The Good News of Jesus Christ starts a process of transformation in our lives that never stops. Here is what I mean.


INITIAL CHANGE


First, there is an initial change. The Bible says all of us fall under the power of sin.  There is no one righteous; none of us truly seek God. We all fall short because we all have sinned (Romans 3:9-12:23). This can be a bit depressing, but the Good News is this—when we repent and believe in the Gospel, we are immediately changed.  We become a new person! Because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our lives which are dominated by the power of sin are replaced with new lives filled with His goodness (2 Corinthians 5:17). To say this is a change worth embracing is an understatement! 


As I watched the new believers being baptized, I couldn't help but be moved by the symbolism of the moment. As they emerged from the water, they were being reborn. Their old selves were washed away, replaced by a new life in Christ. The saving power of the Gospel had changed their status (initial change), but I knew it was just the beginning.


ONGOING CHANGE


Like these new believers, the change for all of us is ongoing. It is a process of transformation that will equip us to face life’s challenges and celebrate life’s joys. I think one of the greatest challenges we all face is navigating and embracing this change process. There seems to be this misconception that once we experience the initial change faith in Christ brings, life will be easier. However, that is not always the case. 


Ongoing change is possible because we are no longer alone.  The moment we are initially changed, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in each believer. With the Holy Spirit comes power (John 14:26, Romans 8:26, Acts 2:38). However, something else is also true. We all still have a human body and nature which the Bible calls our flesh.  Our flesh is full of moral and physical frailties.  Jesus testified to this in the Garden of Gethsemane when He said to His disciples, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).


Whether we like it or not, there will always be a war raging between our flesh and the Spirit.  The Bible says our flesh caters to sinful appetites and impulses while the Spirit strives to make us more like Jesus (Romans 8:6-10). If you have been a believer for any length of time, you know this struggle is real. Change is not easy. The only way to embrace the life Christ died to give us is to remember ongoing change is ONLY possible because of the Gospel.  We cannot do it ourselves; our flesh is incapable. Paul states this truth so clearly.


“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11


The Gospel must be our driving force. When it is we are changed from…



This incomplete list of the changes that can take place in our lives is quite daunting. Like me, you may be thinking right now that some of those attributes do not characterize your life. Don’t let this discourage you!  As I said earlier, we are all on a journey characterized by ongoing change. It is how we discover and become our true selves – to become more like Christ.  I love the words Jesus spoke to His disciples, and I truly believe these promises are for us as well.


No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Since I live, you also will live. When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. John 14:18-20


The Gospel has tremendous implications for us as Christian educators. Imagine schools where children and adults who don’t know Jesus encounter fearless, joyful, content, selfless, humble, forgiving, and loving believers! When the resurrected Christ lives in us, we experience ongoing change as our lives are resurrected daily. This is a change worth embracing!


FUTURE CHANGE


Finally, not only do we experience initial change and ongoing change, but there will be future change. Believers are not condemned to spend eternity apart from God but, instead, welcomed into His family, destined to be in His presence forever (Romans 8:1, John 1:12). Take a look at what awaits those who believe in the Gospel.


 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52


Paul goes on to describe how our mortal bodies will be changed into eternal bodies that will live forever. While I am excited about this future change, I am most looking forward to other changes John describes in the Revelation.


 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:3-5a


No more pain, sickness, disease, disability, suffering, death – all gone. You and I will be made perfect and new. We will finally become our true selves. I know it is impossible to imagine. I get it, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. One day all will be made right, and that should give us tremendous hope. Knowing what the future has in store for us is a change worth embracing! 


As educators, the word change can conjure up all kinds of negative emotions, but the life change that comes from the power of the Gospel is completely different. When everything in our life—and I mean everything—is viewed through the lens of the Gospel (life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus), change is a welcome visitor.


But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,    nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”  1 Corinthians 2:9 (Isaiah 64:4, 65:17)


Sermon Link:

Note: The sermon begins at minute 35.41 followed by baptisms.

 

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