Martin Luther, in his Lecture on Galatians says, “The truth of the gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine. Most necessary is that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” Luther was well known for theatrically overstated opinions. I find this writing style encouraging, and tend to emulate it! What I think is cool is that Luther is saying that the Gospel is something that we often forget and need to be constantly reminded of. The Gospel is not just the basics of Christianity that you learn once, master, and then move on. A believer returns again and again to the truth of the gospel. It never gets old.
You are never done learning about the Gospel. It is a topic that will continually tap out our capacity to comprehend. You will never fully understand who Jesus is, what he has done and how Jesus changes our priorities for everything. Understanding Jesus as the anointed Messiah, son of God and Lord changes everything!
In light of that fact: you don’t have marriage problems, money problems, and health problems. You have Gospel problems that have implications to your marriage, your money, your health and so on. Do you understand what I’m trying to say here?
The Gospel is that Jesus Christ is the anointed one, the Messiah who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus, at great cost to himself took your sins and mine and paid the penalty for all of them and suffered the penalty of death. He then overcame death and now reigns as King over everything. In doing so he granted his perfect sinless life to us, so that God would find satisfaction in Him. We are invited to embrace this salvation, be baptized into a newness of life and live in submission to the rule of Christ in our lives. So here is what it looks like:
Your marriage problems are problems, I don’t want to diminish the reality of the struggles we all have but they are fundamentally an outworking of a failure to understand or apply the gospel. Let’s say you keep having the same fight with your spouse. (hypothetically of course) She says that you don’t consult her when planning events. You just commit to projects or commit to other people without ever considering her wishes or if she is able to accommodate these new demands. At that moment, when you are saying, ‘yes’ to these other people you are revealing something about what is ultimately most important to you. At that moment, other people’s approval is what is giving you identity. Other people’s approval is giving you ultimate fulfillment. Since other people’s approval is the most important thing to you, you will sacrifice everything in order to earn that: your health, marriage, family, money, everything!
The gospel on the other hand gives you an identity as a person loved by God who serves God not to earn standing with God but as a response to God’s service to us. As I embrace the meaning of the gospel in my marriage I will respond to requests for my time differently, for now I do not earn God’s approval, nor do I earn my own value. Instead I respond in light of the fact that I have been redeemed. In light of the Gospel I will come to an identity as a ministering person that has responsible limits to what I can physically do. I will still say yes to some things and no to others, but the gospel causes me to dethrone my approval idol and put Jesus in it’s place.
I know this to be true but I need to be reminded of it every day.