(An addition to this post: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/live-worthy-of-the-gospel/)
6. To Live Worthy of the Gospel is to See Sin Clearly and to Rejoice
I once took part in a lawsuit over a very old painting. It looked perhaps as if could be a painting from a great master which had become lost hundreds of years ago. We compared the painting to old records of paintings made by the master. Experts examined the brush work. Others tested the chemicals in the paint. If real, the painting would fetch millions upon millions. Yet, if it did not pass each test, it would be interesting and old – but not worthy of the name artist.
The same applies here. I have laid out before you some of what it means to walk and life “worthy of the gospel of Christ.” I have shown the demands of the Lord. If you have been truthful, if you have held up your life to this call, then you must see: I do not live truly worthy of the gospel.
You may have noticed that those who have known the Lord most plainly and deeply are those who think themselves most unworthy. It was the end of his life that Paul wrote,
Christ Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 1 Timothy 1:15
John Bradford, a very godly man, would sign his letters, That wretched sinner, that miserable sinner, John Bradford.
If you honestly consider, you will see that you may here and there show signs of life – but in the detail, you see the distance between the perfection of holiness and yourself. If you tell the truth, you will be threatened with despair. In fact, the more and longer you know Christ, the brighter the beauty of his holiness shines and the greater we see our sin and corruption.
It is here that a life worthy of the gospel shows itself most plainly.
At this point, temptation comes and brings despair. The Devil himself comes and says, Did God really say you are saved by grace alone? Are you really a Christian? Look at your sins – I have seen them all. And they are such a great burden that they will weigh you down to hell. You cannot escape. You are not saved. No real Christian could ever sin like that.
And so to run off from this temptation some will seek to ease their conscience by changing the law. When they read that we must count others as more important than ourselves – we change it and qualify it and make it lighter. When we read that see that Christ tells us that we must love the unlovely, that we must sacrifice our ease and comfort to live with people who tempt us to be unhappy – we think, God wants me to be happy : and so we rewrite the demands of the King. Christ really can’t expect me to be so unhappy or to sacrifice so dearly. They will rewrite the law until they come upon a law which they can meet.
Others will say it is all grace! And so sin no longer matters.
Both of these people steal the glory from God. Neither of these people live worthy of the gospel.
To live worthy of the gospel is a matter too great for us. And it is at this very point that the gospel’s beauty becomes clear. The gospel is a proclamation of good news. It is the good news that Christ died for sinners! It is the good news that
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, ….Ephesians 1:7–8a (ESV)
To live worthy of the gospel is to seek holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14) – and to rejoice in the fact that the Father loves me in the Son. God the Father loves me, because he loves my King!
You see, the gospel does not make sin indistinct and less clear. It is the legalist who needs a law he can keep. It is the legalist who says, That can’t be the law. God could never expect that of anyone! The legalist writes a law he can meet.
But the gospelist looks and sin clearly and says, I am a poor miserable sinner –But God!
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:4–10 (ESV)
I am not worthy of the least grace of God – and yet God bestows unending grace upon me.
Do not worry that you are a great sinner. Your sin cannot keep you from Christ! Confess your sin, confess and come to Christ. You Christ is a great savior.
And so here is the final element of a life worthy of the gospel of Christ: Joy! Over and again Paul writes, Rejoice.
Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. Phil. 4:4.
I am so glad that our Father in heaven
Tells of his love in the book has given
Wonderful things in the Bible I see
But this is the dearest that Jesus loves me
I am glad that Jesus loves
Jesus loves even me.
If there is only one song I can sing
When in his presence I see the great king
This will my song for eternity be
Or what a wonder that Jesus loves me.