Renewing Your Mind Day 1 – Changing My Mind About The Gospel

This entry is part 1 of 10 in the series Renewing Your Mind In 30 Days

resurrection photo(Galatians 1:6) “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:”

Even though I was born in America, attended religious classes, took part in religious ceremonies, joined a church by fulfilling the requirements for membership, memorized parts of the Bible, prayed and was baptized, I was not a Christian by God’s definition. One Sunday while I was in eighth grade, I attended a youth group and heard something called “the gospel.” I believed it. My life and eternity were changed forever. I have never been the same.

The day I became a Christian, I changed my mind about three things: Myself, God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Myself – First, I had to realize that I was a sinner regardless of whether I was born in America, raised in religion or lived a life trying to do good.

God – Second, I had to realize that God loved me and did not want to judge me. But unfortunately, because I was a sinner, He was going to judge me and my sin would keep me separated from Him forever.

Jesus Christ – Third, I had to realize who Jesus really was. He wasn’t a religious figure sent here to teach us how to do good. As God, He was sent here because God loved me. I had to realize He died on the cross for me, in my place, to pay for my sins. I also had to realize He rose again from the dead in order to give me eternal life.

The gospel is a name given to many different messages in our world today. But the Bible only defines one true saving message for us today:

(1 Corinthians 15:3-4) “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”

It was hard for me to accept that salvation came by faith and not by doing something. I learned that I could never do enough good to earn God’s acceptance. I could only be accepted on the basis of what Christ did for me in His death, burial and resurrection.

Unfortunately, listening closely to a lot of preaching and teaching leads me to believe that Christianity has not guarded the purity of the message. So many proclaim a message that makes the terms of salvation sound like it requires works rather than faith. I fear there are people sitting regularly in the pews who may not even know Christ because they are trusting in a message that may be called the gospel but is not the true gospel.

I examined the websites of the 5 largest churches in America and looked at what they call their “Beliefs” or “Statement of Faith.” I had to dig a little deeper in some of the website to find their description of salvation. Most agree that Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again. But most also add a few steps to the process of obtaining salvation. For some, you have to make a “commitment.” Others say you have to “change your heart towards God” as part of the transaction. The very truth that salvation comes by grace through faith is being cloaked in language that could actually cause people to think there are some works involved!  The reality is, we can never make a meaningful commitment to God or experience a change in our hearts until we come by faith to the salvation of God.

If you’ve never received Christ as your Savior, I invite you to change your mind about yourself, God and Jesus Christ right now.  You can know for sure where you will go when you die and have the capacity to live a life pleasing to God with your remaining days. Will you trust Him alone for your salvation?

Christian, change your mind about the gospel. Listen for the clarity of the message being preached. This isn’t about being critical. It’s about the very basis of our existence as Christians. We must demand a clear gospel message from ourselves, our churches, our leaders and each other. The gospel is the starting point towards a renewed mind.

Renewed Thought – Change your mind today about the gospel.

Being The Light On Christmas

(1 Timothy 1:15)  “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.”

The decorations are up, the tree is lit, and we have a 24 hour a day Christmas carol radio station that promises to keep us company.  During this time of year, we are continually exhorted by Christian leaders who tell us to “keep Christ in Christmas” and that “Jesus is the reason for the season.”  But how do I avoid the crass commercialism of industry and maintain the simplicity of the message of Christ?  Do I buy Christmas cards with pictures of a star and three wisemen?  Do I refuse to write “X-mas” instead of “Christmas?”  Do I fight against people who want to get rid of manger scenes? What I thought was righteous indignation in my youth now appears to be a distraction and drain on my energy, taking away from the focus on something much more important.

The Lord Jesus Christ came with a mission.  He was God manifest in the flesh for the purpose of saving sinners – yes, you and me!  The whole world is focusing on a celebration that will culminate on December 25th.  We have a unique opportunity to share the beauty and simplicity of all that God the Father intended when He sent God the Son into this world.  The babe in the manger would become the man on the cross.  The silent night of His birth would become darkness as the Son of God died for our sins.  No room at the inn would become no room in the hearts of those who despised and rejected Him.  The proclamation of the angels to shepherds would become the proclamation of an angel to the women, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” at an empty tomb.  Yes, let’s keep Christ at the forefront this Christmas as we proclaim that He is the reason for our redemption!

Renewed Thought – Lord, help us shine Your light during this holiday season.

Power In The Mystery of the Gospel

ephesus photo
Ephesus

(Ephesians 6:19)  “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,”

Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel of the grace of God as he wrote these words to the Ephesians. This was part of the prayer request he began in verse 18.  Paul’s persecution, rooted in the principalities and powers aligned under Satan, came mainly from two groups. First, he was under attack by pagan Gentiles who were going to lose their income or power that came from those who were lost.. We see an example of this in Acts 16 and 19. Second, he was continually attacked by religious Jews who were fervent against Christ. They followed Paul in his travels looking for any opportunity to shut him down. We see numerous examples in Acts 14, 17 and 18.

The “mystery of the gospel” is defined for us in Ephesians 3:6 – “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:” The thought that both Jew and Gentile would be reconciled to God in one Body was a direct threat against “spiritual wickedness in high places” that sought to keep both of these groups in continual spiritual darkness. No wonder Paul was constantly attacked! The gospel threatened to tear down worldly powers and strongholds, set people free from captivity and provide victory in daily life over sin. The gospel was and is powerful enough to shift the entire structure of society.

It’s important to notice that Paul did not pray for his own safety or comfort. Rather his mind was entirely on the gospel and those who needed it. He was asking for his mental state to be as effective as possible under the extreme stress of imprisonment and threat of death. Because Paul focused on the mission God gave him, his focus was on the need for courage in the face of all the danger around him. Another thing comes to mind as we look at this verse – even though Paul is praying for his own benefit, ultimately his prayer was a result of keeping his mind on the needs of others. This is an advancement of the prayer request in verse 18. As we see society crumble around us, we need to be aware what those in society truly need. They need a Church that will stand for the truth of the “mystery of the gospel” – a Church fully aware of what transformation is needed and committed to the message that can accomplish it regardless of the cost.

Renewed Thought – The Mystery of the Gospel shows us the power of God in the gospel to transform an entire culture. It also helps us see our own need to depend on the Lord for courage to stand for the gospel in the face of spiritual conflict.

Photo by eleephotography