二○二○年八月二十二日／二十三日 Click here for English version
The Distance between the Gospel and Us
Rev Vincent Mak
The gospel, or "good news," is not just about embracing salvation and a promise for eternal life, with a focus on preparing for what happens beyond this life as many Christians would understand. This neglects another side of the gospel, which is how it shapes the everyday life of "Kingdom citizens."
In the Old Testament, the "good news" never emphasized the hope for everlasting life. To the Israelites, the "good news" was liberation from slavery in Egypt, re-establishment of the relationship with God who made a permanent covenant with humankind, and abiding by the laws of God in everyday life. In New Testament times, the "good news" clearly points to salvation on the cross. The gospel is redemption brought by the Lord Jesus Christ who died for our sins. Sin separates man from God but atonement brings hope and a life reborn.
The gospel enables reconciliation of man with God. It releases us from the bondage of everyday life and gives us joy and hope. But how can those who have received the gospel live a new life? Jesus Christ clearly told us that the core message of the gospel is repentance and turning to God's redemption. But as we still live in this world of sin, we are bound to face trials and evils brought by sin. As such, having talked about sin in our gospel messages and stressed repentance, we must also pay attention to living out the gospel in our lives.
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:1-2).
Paul stressed that "we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." The gospel that reconciles man to God is an experience at present, not in the future. "Into this grace in which we now stand" describes the firm and close relationship between man and God after reconciliation. In particular, in days full of uncertainties, the choices we make under tests say a lot about our identity of standing in grace. It also shows how much we have truly embraced the gospel.
It is grace alone that brings us salvation although none of us deserves it. The new life enables us to identify and stay away from sin and to strive to seek the good according to God. Therefore, we need to understand that the gospel is not just about redemption, being reborn and hope everlasting. It is not just the starting and finishing points of the Christian faith. All of this is true. But more. The gospel is also about the everyday life of believers. It is about closing the distance with God by constantly adjusting our thoughts and mindset to Him. The more we understand how far we have missed the mark of the good of God, the more we are able to understand how amazingly the grace of God has worked on undeserving believers.