Because I forget the essence of the Gospel like everyone else, I keep hounding and writing and preaching and teaching and counseling from only one perspective: The Gospel! The Theology of the Gospel can be summed up like this: "It is finished" . And what we need to get a grip on is this is not a new idea. Read the words of Peter:
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (I Peter 1:10-12 ESV)
Read those words above again! The prophets preached about grace for you and for me! And Peter doesn't end there...the angels "long to look" into the Gospel! The Gospel is so deep, so rich, so empowering that the angels never stop looking into it's richness and beauty and so I too am longing for it's power.
But I forget and become addicted to "me" and my religion of personal obedience for God's favor. I am addicted to religion and not to Jesus so I look to me and my works not to Jesus and His performance on my behalf. It's funny because I know the Gospel but I have trouble living and believing the Gospel. As Tim Keller says: "It is one thing to understand the Gospel but it quite another to experience the Gospel in such a way that it fundamentally change us and becomes the source of our identity and security." - Now that will take a load off our minds and souls!
you can find it here) and he has some wonderful insights into the power of the Gospel and how it is only the Gospel that can take our burdens away and give us true peace.
We need to start by being very honest with ourselves...and we may not like this kind of honesty because it means confessing deep from our hearts desire to be a Pharisee and be a self-savior based on our own performance. We live by the law pronouncing "God is happy with me because of my performance".
The problem with this is there is always someone else who is performing better and doing more...so it's never enough. "Give more, do more, get a bigger church, preach like him, love like she loves" and the list never ends, the demands never end. We never get the right theology of the Gospel so we never have true peace, we never believe "It is finished".
Greear puts it this way in his book: "No matter how many rules I kept and how disciplined my life was, I walked around with an ever-present sense of guilt. In the deepest part of my heart, I knew - knew God was not really pleased with me, because there was always something I could be doing better. The really good Christians were always doing something that I wasn't." He then says this very revealing truth in all "God pleasers": "My service for God was fervent, but my passions for Him were cold. I was tired and while I would never admit it, I was starting to hate God."
But God is NOT a taskmaster always standing over you and me! He is not demanding more for us - how can He? He gave us Jesus...isn't He enough? Greear writes: "The Gospel is the announcement that God has reconciled us to Himself by sending His Son Jesus..." (p5). The Gospel is not just fire insurance but power to live every moment of our lives. Jesus put it this way as the people asked: "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him who He as sent" (John 6:28-29). We ask, "what do I do" and Jesus says "believe" - the work is the WORK OF GOD! He has set us free! He then tells us that He is the bread of life...our nourishment is Jesus. Our source of life is Jesus. Our daily living depends on Jesus not our works. Martin Luther says it this way: "Grace involves remission of sins, peace, & happy conscience. Sin is not canceled by lawful living, no person is able to live up to the Law."
We must get this from our heads to our hearts, from our intellect to our life, from our minds to our daily walk and in doing so we will live lives that we never knew we could live. We will actually love God and love our neighbors like never before! Our identity - who we see in the mirror - will change from "I am a good/bad person due to my efforts" to "I am a child of God because of His efforts for me." Halleluiah!