Missional Living People… # Walk by Faith (part 2) Faith in the Gospel
Missional Living People confidently have faith in the worldwide saving power of the Gospel.
"For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”" (Romans 1:16-17)
There was a time when the word Gospel did not need to be defined or clarified. It was understood as referring directly to Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of our sins through His death, burial, and resurrection, having become our sin, so that we could become His righteousness. It meant that man could be saved from our sins and have eternal life. That is the connotation of the Scriptures- that is the need of humanity, for indeed, we need a Savior and Redeemer.
Missional Living People don’t confuse what ought to be the results of the Gospel, with the Gospel itself.
I was prepared for good works, according to Ephesians 2:8-10, but salvation is by grace, through faith. Salvation is not through community restoration projects, reading programs, or taking a stand on social justice issues. We have great effect as Kingdom ambassadors on such related topics as a result of the power of God at work that is saving us, the Gospel. The change the world needs is more deeply rooted than these, albeit important, surface issues. Such issues are present, in fact, because of our need for the Gospel.
If my heart and my hands are submitted to the tasks of Matthew 25, it is as a result of the Christ I know, love and serve. Humanity, in general, is concerned with what He is concerned for on any level because we all bear His image, but upon knowing Christ, our concern filters out a great deal to get to the core issue of what is happening in the arena of a person’s soul. The Gospel isn’t asking what good things people are doing with their lives for others, but rather, the Gospel asks, “Does your life belong to Jesus?” Where people are in relation to Christ is at the core of making disciples, not solely because if they died tonight they may spend eternity in hell, but more so because it is the Father’s great desire that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, for God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
My desires, because of the Gospel at work in me, become His desires through what the Scriptures call sanctification. God desires for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done, here, on earth, in the lives of everyone around us. He is at work in unseen ways to accomplish that, but He commands us to be a part of that work, to co-labor with Him, to that end as well. Missional Living people have come to realize that apart from Christ, we can do nothing, and that unless disciples are being made by our mission and vision, then our mission and vision is not Gospel focused. In fact, with many of the people I have worked with in the missions arena, I am sad to say that they were ashamed of the Gospel, when it could have been the power at work through them to save the lives they were desperately trying to change.
Unfortunately, many a missionary has grown frustrated in the attempt to “fix” each surface issue in order to get people ready to hear the Gospel, but this is never the example of Scripture. It is the Gospel that prepares us for how to appropriately do what comes next, to address the real issues of life, to point us in the right direction regarding what is best for another life. The example of the Gospel to us is that a man would lay down His life for others, to rescue and redeem them, to pay the ransom with His own blood. With Jesus going ahead of us in such a way, we who follow Him know we are called to be living sacrifices, which is far more than just the saying no to certain sins, as Romans 12:1-2 is too often preached. It is the call to embody the Gospel.
The trap in missions is to begin working on the outside in order to get to the inside eventually. However, we are ambassadors that are called to present that the greatest need is the condition of the soul, and we should target that place in humanity, wherever we find them. We do this by getting quickly to Jesus, the purpose for which He came, the need He meets, the changes He makes and the promises He brings.
Cups of cold water in Jesus' name are great, but living water by Jesus’ saving power is better.
The lesson is clear from the woman at the well that we need more than something to drink, and He has given us much more to offer.
Some reading this will jump to the extreme cases of rescuing the trafficked, feeding the starving, clothing the naked, and so on. Let me be clear with my “YES!” to the mandate of our God by quoting Him here:
"Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
We are to be the people, more than anyone on earth, who lead such a charge. Why? Because we are redeemed! WE were spiritually dead, held captive by the enemy. WE were transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of His marvelous light! WE were weak and needy, and for our sakes He became poor for us. HE rescued us, and now we go and do the same. We were the orphans that He has adopted into His family! The difference that Missional Living People have grasped with full conviction is the Gospel is not merely why we go and do these acts of love toward others, it is what all of these acts of love are about.
Missional Living People never hide Jesus in the veil of humanism. He is out front. He is let loose. He is at work in our hands and hearts, and also in our mouths. He is not an afterthought as we feed the hungry, He is what we are feeding the hungry with each warm meal. He is the blanket we are wrapping 'round the cold. He is the shelter and refuge that we protect the lost and alone within. We see that what we are doing in being missionaries is not trying to make the world a better place or fix that which is broken in humanity, for we do not have that power. No, what we are to be about is that the Gospel of His Kingdom may proceed, not the legacy of good works alone that bring glory to the Father, but the incredibly GOOD NEWS that mankind, in whatever state he may find himself today, in whatever state we may be serving them, can have eternal life through Jesus Christ. Friends, be encouraged. It is available still! The prayer of Christ that the Kingdom would come can be seen in communities around the world still today! What we want to see change in households, communities, villages, cities, and whole cultures is merely waiting on our unashamed faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Father, please send us laborers who are not ashamed, and fully believe in the power of the Gospel of your Son.