Monday, November 4, 2013


 What are the Roadblocks to Gospel Renewal?
There are a number of roadblocks to gospel renewal, too many to cover here.  However, there are a few that seem to pop up quite frequently.  They are:
1.    The false assumption or belief that we have anything to do with our salvation
2.      A false understanding of just what saving faith really is
3.      Uncertainty regarding our relationship with God

1.     The false assumption or belief that we have
anything to do with our salvation

Many folks today believe that they had something to do with their salvation, or that someone else had something to do with their salvation.  That is a typical man-centered observation.  After all, like I mentioned before, most of us were raised to believe that we make our way in the world, we accomplish the things we go after, we are responsible for all that takes place in our lives.  Therefore, it follows that we made a decision for Christ, we are the ones that chose him, and we are the ones that maintain our relationship with him; further, that continuing to keep his approval is all up to us.
Without getting into the whole discussion of “man’s responsibility”—which is an important doctrine to understand—it is important to see that the fact of the matter is, there are no human fingerprints on our salvation—our salvation is all of God.  Yes, God uses people in the same way he used Paul and Apollos to plant and water, but remember, it was God who caused the growth [1 Corinthians 3].  It is God who:
·   Chose us  [Ephesians 1, Romans 9]
·   Who paid the penalty for our sin [Galatians 2, 1 Peter 3]
·   It is God who calls us  [John 6, Philippians 3]
·   It is God who brings us to life spiritually [John 3, 1 Peter 1]
·   It is God who gives us faith to exercise [Ephesians 2]
·   It is God who causes us to exercise that gift of faith [Ephesians 2]
·   It is God who justifies, sanctifies, and ultimately will glorify us. [Romans 8, Galatians 2]
Again, salvation is all of God.  We do absolutely nothing to earn it, and we do absolutely nothing to bring it about and we do absolutely nothing to maintain it.

2.     Uncertainty regarding our relationship with God
Being uncertain about our relationship with God is another roadblock to gospel renewal.  Many things can cause this uncertainty:
·   Questioning whether or not we really believe
·   An ever-increasing awareness of our own sin
·   Dependence on our own good works (more so than an awareness of a lack of good works)…wondering if our good works are “enough”
As far as questioning whether or not we believe goes, know this: 
if you believe the promises of God, it is because God has given you the faith necessary to believe!  God also is at work in you to do battle with the attacks of the evil one.  His Spirit bears witness with your spirit that you ARE a child of God (Romans 8).  God does not want us to live in a state of uncertainty when it comes to our relationship with him.  John wrote, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may KNOW you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)
An ever-increasing awareness of our own sin is a result of having a greater grasp on the truth of the gospel, it is a result of having one’s heart gripped by the gospel, and that is a great thing!  Though we are not to minimize our sin or ignore it, what we do is take it to the cross, seeing that Jesus bore our sin and the penalty for our sin on our behalf.  Just because we sin does not mean we are not truly saved.  Jerry Bridges is again helpful in this regard.  He suggests asking:
o   “Is my life characterized by an earnest desire and a sincere effort to obey God in all that he commands?  What is my attitude toward God’s law?  Do I find it to be holy, just and good?  And do I delight in it in my inner being event though I find my sinful nature struggling against it?”[1] 
Remember, the struggle against sin is not unique to us.  Paul struggled with the same thing, and talked about it in Romans 7
Finally, when it comes to our good works, our attitude about them is what is key.  We all know and understand that true saving faith will naturally result in good works (James 2).  What we need to recognize is that Jesus accomplished it all for us—it is finished—and that it is because of his good work that we are clothed in his righteousness.  As a result, we realize that there is nothing left for us to do.  There is nothing for us to accomplish.  That rids us of the uncertainty created by a concern for our own good works—or an awareness of our lack of good works—and the focus on whether or not what we do is enough.  What we do could never be enough, and when we “get” that, we are free from this uncertainty.
Look at our text—Paul wrote,
13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Get that!  When you heard the word of truth, when you heard the gospel and believed in Jesus, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit, you were sealed with the guarantee of your inheritance!  To be sealed by the Holy Spirit with the guarantee of your inheritance is God’s proof that you belong to him.  And God never fails to keep his promises!

3.     Performancism
“We habitually and instinctively look to other things besides God and his grace as our justification, hope, significance, and security.”  
--Tim Keller
That is a great definition of performancism.  So what does performancism look like in our everyday lives?  Think about the things you focus on—things other than God—to feel good about yourself or the things that make you feel insecure, such as:
Your job (your position, your rank, being “self made”)
How much money you have or don’t have
Your family (how well your kids obey/behave, what kind of hostess your wife may be, how screwed up you think your family really is)
Your home (how big, how little, what neighborhood, how it’s decorated)
What college your kids go to (or don’t go to)
What college you did or did not go to
What people think of you—your friends, parents, co-workers, fellow church members, your church leaders
What you may have or have not accomplished in your lifetime
ALL of these things get in the way of the easy yoke and light burden Jesus talked about.  The reason we focus on these things is because it is our default mode to do so.  By nature, we think we have to earn what we receive, we think we have to perform in order to receive approval or have people think well of us.  That mindset is reinforced in the society in which we live.  We hear, “work harder if you want to advance!” and “do more if you want people to notice you!”  Over and over and over again, we are inundated with “do more, try harder!”
What we need to get through our thick skulls is that who we are is not tied to what we do, despite what the world tells us.  We are not justified by our actions or by our activities.  The Gospel tells us something we will never hear from anywhere in this world: what Jesus has done for you, not what you do, is what defines you.”  (Tullian Tchividjian)
God's love for you and approval of you is not lowered by your failures or heightened by your successes.  (Tullian Tchividjian)
John Piper said it well:  “God has no lack for which we must fill. And we have no service for which God depends.”  

NEXT:  Some Roadblocks to Gospel Renewal (#4 to #7)


[1] Bridges, p. 142
[2] Richard Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, 1979, p. 101, quoted in Jerry Bridges, The Gospel for Real Life, 2003, p. 14
[3] Bridges, p. 15
[4] R.W. Glenn, Crucifying Morality, p. 107
[5] Tullian Tchividjian, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World, 2013, p. 98

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