Discovering God's Grace
We at Christ the King seek to root ourselves in the gospel. The gospel is historically rooted in the life/death/resurrection of Jesus in fulfillment of God's promises. As a result God freely receives all who come to him and forgives their sins when they ask him to do so (free justification). In the cross of Jesus we see God’s wrath against sinful humanity and his love for his own at the same time. Many benefits come from believing the Gospel. Among these, we are united with Christ in his death and resurrection; we are adopted children of God; and we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. All of it, and more, is the gift of God’s grace.
Jesus’ gospel message was simply, “Repent and believe.” From this we understand two things. First, in the gospel we are continually called to repent of our sins, both conscious and unconscious. Repentance is turning to God. It leads to a willingness to examine our lives, become less defensive, seek forgiveness and reconciliation, and never think that we are better than others. When we worship God we ask him to rule over every part of our lives. Ongoing repentance connects us to the love of God and the second thing - faith.
We are to believe in God, to receive his love and trust that we are in his family because of the redemption Jesus accomplished. This changes everything. When we know that we are loved by the Creator we become sane, restored to who we were created to be. To rely on the love of God instead of other things like possessions, reputation and relationships, is the root of an authentic life. This is the heart of Jesus' teaching, the necessary consequence of his death and resurrection, and the reason for the church's existence from the earliest days.
John Owen, a Puritan father of the Faith said it this way, “Put then this to venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. I dare boldly say, believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a farther discovery of the sweetness of the streams. You who have run from him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment.” (Communion with God )
History, scripture and our hearts teach us that this gospel is a treasure that is easily lost. In the early church, the apostle Paul had to make sure that the gospel was not altered or compromised. In places like Galatia and Corinth, believers drifted from the gospel in their belief and practice. Even today, we become proud of our accomplishments and worried that God doesn't love us. Both of these impulses show that we have forgotten the gospel. The gospel belongs to the church just as we belong to it. We in the church need to remind each other of the gospel again and again. It needs to be preached and taught repeatedly as the heart of our life together. To use the apostle's language, we as a community "guard the gospel" together.
In the end, we strive to have the gospel as our center. From that center, we rely on God to give us freedom and submission. We believe he promises to make us better people - more humble, gentle, courageous, and peaceful. He will also make us more obedient to his law, by his grace. We expect that his love will grow in us as we know his forgiveness. We expect that appropriating the gospel to our lives will result in loving our neighbors, laying our lives down for others, and glorifying God in all of life.