Feb 6 2015

Increasing Gospel Fluency

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 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 2:8-10)

 

Saved by grace, apart from works, recreated in Christ Jesus to do good works — that’s what we unpacked in this past week’s sermon. These good works that grow out of grace driven effort yield wonderful fruit, namely: 1) displaying evidence of gospel transformation which confirms our faith, 2) being a winsome, living testimony to the world of the grace and holiness of God, 3) glorifying God as we “walk” in His purpose for our lives.

In the sermon I suggested that the answer to “How do we live graciously, growing in good works?” is primarily found in increasing our Gospel Exposure and increasing our Gospel Fluency. By increasing our Gospel Exposure, I mainly mean “inputting” more gospel into our lives than we do worldly fluff. Input the Gospel through:

  • Reading, memorizing, and obeying the Word of God
  • Make worshipping with God’s people a priority and invest while you’re there
  • Read Christian literature, fiction and non-fiction, apologetics
  • Find Christian music that fits (and stretches) your tastes

 

I believe that if we increase our Gospel Exposure, our “output” of the gospel and of good works is bound to be affected.

Here in this article, I wanted to draw attention to a particular application of increasing our Gospel Fluency. Gospel Fluency is how we “output” the gospel to ourselves and to others. This is how we believe the gospel and how we practice the gospel. This is how we share the gospel in word and in deed. Just like learning any new language, developing a gospel fluency takes some time and practice. Thus, don’t get discouraged and think that you aren’t good enough. And at the same time, don’t underestimate the power of the Spirit to make much out of our seemingly meager offerings.

Gospel fluency begins with being able to preach the gospel to yourself in order to apply the truth of the gospel and power of the Spirit to areas that God wants to make holy. The message that you preach to yourself is often easily done through memorizing Scripture (like the verses above.) It can also be as simple as praying something like, “Jesus, thank you for coming down from heaven to die and pay for my sin. I don’t want to make your forgiveness cheap by choosing things that dishonour You. I receive Your forgiveness and step out in faith to act according to YOUR will.” Making a conscious step to internalize the truth of the gospel like this has an amazing transformative effect. What’s more, the very act of preaching to ourselves progresses in us, making us more like Jesus. Here’s how I see that happening.

temptation comes > sin occurs > preach to ourselves > repent > receive grace

(This also basically represents how we come to Jesus in the first place to be saved from sin. As we grow, we learn to preach/apply the gospel BEFORE we sin as a means to combat temptation.)

 temptation > preach > win sometimes/sin sometimes (moralism) > repent > grace

(This is where we learn to preach the gospel to ourselves in order to combat sin, but a limited understanding of grace finds us ultimately striving for righteousness under our own power. We try to be moral to please God or avoid punishment and find ourselves on a bit of a rollercoaster.)

 temptation > preach > grace > win > grace

(This represents how I believe the Apostle Paul to be describing the battle with flesh in Romans 7&8. When we are conflicted and preach, “There is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” and we believe that grace over ourselves, we DO find victory over sin. This enriches our experience of grace and leads to good works out of grace driven effort. And as we continue to grow in the Lord and His grace, we see . . .)

temptation > Spirit-affirmed grace > win > grace

(This is where the grace of God and our sensitivity to His Spirit inside of us is so rich, that it shortens the response time of embracing grace to respond to circumstances, particularly sin. The preaching of the gospel to ourselves has reached such a place of fluency, that it is a part of our natural rhythms.)

Practically this looks like when I am confronted with a temptation/sin internally OR with a need/decision/opportunity externally, my sensitivity to the grace shown me has such a short response time that I begin to naturally respond like Jesus would. Gracious, good works flow out of an honest, pure heart. This is not to say that responding with grace is always easy. This is not to say that we don’t mess up, or wrestle with applying the gospel in certain circumstances. But I do believe that this is how God shapes us into being thriving, effective CHRISTians.

As I see this progression at work in various areas of my life, I see that becoming more like Jesus is what makes me a more satisfied human being. It’s what makes me a better parent, shaping my kids into the image of God. And since it is God’s grace that enables and fuels this way to live, that’s why it brings HIM glory and not us! We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, (by grace) to do good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them . . . that is what changes us and is what changes the world!


May 3 2012

Summit check-in #3

Second morning is another beautiful, warm day in the south with a tell-tale sweetness in the air.  It reminds me of Georgia.

Last night ended with a great main session.  We proclaimed realities of the Lord’s great love for us in song, and we affirmed a message of truth from Gabe Lyons, an author and speaker.  The main focus of the talk was the importance of sharing the “whole story” of God’s work as we share with people . . . especially in a context like ours in Canada.  You see, sometimes we narrow our focus in “evangelism” to share about the fall (sin) and redemption (salvation).  But really, this is only half the story.  The story begins with creation, and how wonderful and complete and intentional God made everything.  The story ends with restoration, when all things find their proper place.   And that restoration is really where our hope lies.  We are redeemed unto life . . . full life, eternal life, restored life.  And in all things, because of redemption, His grace is sufficient to keep us restored and carry us to the complete work of ultimate restoration in heaven.

So . . . as we partake in and share the message of Creation — Fall — Redemption — Restoration, we join God in being Restorers.  Cool perspective.

Alright.  Now it’s off to breakfast and then more conference.

Blessings to all.