How does our understanding of Gospel-impact align with what the Bible teaches? Our understanding needs to recognize change coming from a heart affected by the Gospel is done on the inside and not the outside. The biggest impact happens to the heart.
What kind of inside change takes place when the Mack Truck Gospel hits us on the freeway of life? The answer is simple because the analogy is clear. Death takes place. Spiritual death. When a Mack truck hits someone square-on while traveling on the highway at 65mph they die. The same thing happens to a person impacted by the Gospel. They die. Their old self dies and God resurrects the dead person with a new heart, new mind, new Spirit, and a new life. This is the consistent message of the Bible.
Mark 8:35 “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
John 12:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Colossians 3:3 “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Who is the old self that dies? The self-centered, self-righteous, self-indulgent, self-serving, selfish self dies. The self who is filled with pride dies. The complaining, grumbling self who is easily angered when things don’t go their way dies. The self who thinks the whole world revolves around them dies. The self who demands their rights and privileges dies. The self-pitying self with way too much self-esteem, who is too self-conscious and overly concerned about self-image dies. Our self which is ridden with a sin nature dies. The self that has to die. Our biggest enemy is our old self and God lovingly takes care of our biggest enemy. In doing this, killing our old self, God takes away the biggest obstacle to our true joy; which is only found in having a right-relationship with God.
It’s like this. Behavior stems from the heart. A heart that is self-centered is the opposite of God. God is giving, loving, kind, gentle, serving, merciful, and compassionate. God is directly contrary in nature to all things selfish. Selfishness is not a character attribute of God.
Think about it. People wake up thinking about themselves. What will I wear? What will I eat for breakfast? What will happen to me at work? I hope I get that new thing I have been wanting. I wonder if I got any mail. Me, me, me. I, I, I. As humans, the world revolves around us. Even acts of kindness and generosity have some sort of selfish motive. It is pretty sad actually. (After reading this post, watch this funny clip about the “me monster” performed by Brian Regan http://youtu.be/vymaDgJ7KLg. It helps illustrate my point. I like how he refers to self-centeredness as the “human condition.”)
How is the Gospel-impacted life different? The Gospel-impacted life starts looking at the big picture and takes notice of the goodness of God. The Gospel-impacted life notices other people. Notices people are hurting and in need. In noticing other people, the Gospel-impacted life begins to care by developing compassion and a generous nature. The Gospel-impacted life becomes loving and thankful. The biggest change after being hit by the Gospel Mack Truck is becoming more God-centered and others-centered. This is exactly what Jesus is talking about when He says the greatest commandment is to love God and to love others. The Apostle Paul says by loving, we fulfill the law of God.
What then are we to do? How are we to apply this in our lives?
Stay tuned for part four.