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I once assumed the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, while afterward we advance to deeper theological waters. But I've come to realize that the gospel isn't the first step in a stairway of truths, but more like the hub in a wheel of truth. As Tim Keller explains it, the gospel isn't simply the ABCs of Christianity, but the A-through-Z. In other words, once God rescues sinners, his plan isn't to steer them beyond the gospel, but to move them more deeply into it.

In his letter to the Christians of Colossae, the apostle Paul portrays the gospel as the instrument of all continued growth and spiritual progress, even after s believer's conversion.

"All over the world," he writes, "this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth" (Col. 1:6).

After meditating on Paul's words, a friend told me that all our problems in life stem from our failure to apply the gospel. This means I can't really move forward unless I learn more thoroughly the gospel's content and how to apply it to all of life. Real change does not and cannot come independently of the gospel. God intends his Good News in Christ to mold and shape us at every point and in every way. It increasingly defines the way we think, feel, and live.

Martin Luther often employed the phrase simul justus et peccator—"simultaneously justified and sinful." He understood that while he'd already been saved from sin's penalty, he was in daily need of salvation from sin's power. And since the gospel is the "power of God for salvation," he knew that even for the most saintly of saints, the gospel is wholly relevant and vitally necessary. This means heralded preachers need the gospel just as much as hardened pagans.

In his book The Gospel for Real Life, Jerry Bridges picks up on this theme. The answer to sin, he says, isn't to try harder, but to comprehend more fully and clearly Christ's incredible work on the cross—then to live in more vital awareness of that grace day by day. The main problem in the Christian life, in other words, is not that we don't try hard enough to be good. It's that we haven't accepted the deep implications of the gospel and applied its powerful reality to all parts of our life.

There are two challenges for preachers, those of us called to announce this good news. First is to help people understand theologically that the gospel doesn't just ignite the Christian life but it's also the fuel that keeps Christians going and growing every day. The second challenge, which is much harder for me than the first, is to help people understand how this works functionally.

I address the second challenge by regularly asking myself this question: Since Jesus secured my pardon and absorbed the Father's wrath on my behalf so that "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," how does that impact my longing for approval, my tendency to be controlling, ...

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Tullian Tchividjian is pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Related Topics:ChangeCharacterEvangelismGospelPreachingTheology
From Issue:How Will They Hear Your Preaching?, Winter 2010 | Posted: January 18, 2010

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Displaying 1–5 of 10 comments

Vincent

April 20, 2013  10:48am

i greet you warmly in Christ,Hi! am a pastor and am saved Jesus is my savior,He has done great to me and to my family,hoping to same is with you,i also thank lord for that;my fellow friends i need your help in prayers,more so pray for our young fellowship to be strong enough to posses christian material such like bible,to enable us stand firm in Christ,we love you all.

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SAMPSON APPAIH

February 24, 2013  6:27pm

THANKS FOR THE TRUTH

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Minahil aslam

February 21, 2013  7:35pm

this is awesome!

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pastor john

January 28, 2013  4:57am

Greeting in the Name of Jesus Christ! Dear Brother and Sisters In Christ, Samoos Bible Care Ministries Pakistan (SBCMP) is a non profit, nondenominational Christian ministry working for the spread of the Gospel in Pakistan. We are working for this mission since the year 2004. In a period of only few years we have done an extensive work to send the gospel out in Pakistan. We live in a very backward and underdeveloped area of Punjab where people are illiterate, not only in the formal and non formal education, but as well as in the knowledge of the Word of God. To get the Gospel to the people who need it, we have Sunday prayers. Also, we organize open-air prayer meetings in the surrounding areas where no pastor or evangelists are going with the Gospel. This way we are reaching those people who have never heard the Bible before. Our vision is to reach the unreached millions of Pakistan through gospel crusades, evangelistic out-reaches, literature out-reach, mass media, native missionar

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samuel Duho

January 23, 2013  2:59am

The words of God is not just a word which everyone should just say anything she or he likes but rather,u need to go within yourself and ask God to give u deeper meaning.i hope that's only way it help our soul and spirit.i love the word of God because that's power of God,all promises are yes.therefore let's apply it everyday.i am from Accra Ghana.

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