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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Gospel Thinking: Christ was Given

(This is the sixth article in a series.  You can find the previous articles here:  Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5)

As we continue to consider what it means to be gospel-minded, let’s move on by looking at the next point of the gospel: Christ was given. 
Our predicament as fallen human beings is that we fall far short of God’s holy standard and are therefore objects of His wrath.  But – praise God! – He is gracious and moved to take care of that predicament for us.  God loved us in such a way that He gave His only Son to live and die in our stead.  Jesus Christ lived the righteous life we should have lived, and He died the death we should have died.  That means that He not only fulfilled the Father’s holy standard on our behalf, but by dying on the cross for our sins He also removed from us the stain of sin and the wrath of God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor 5:21)
Truly, the greatest problem we’ve ever had was solved by the coming of Jesus Christ.  The gift of the Son is what makes the gospel “good news.”  And it is news that is so good, it can and should serve as the ultimate solace during times of difficulty.
So how might we use this truth of the gospel to shape the way that we think about our lives and circumstances?  As with previous posts, let’s consider a few different scenarios.
A man looks at the people around him in the various circles of his life, wondering why they are so blessed financially while he and his family struggle constantly to make ends meet.  They don’t go on the vacations others do.  They don’t have the things others do.  He is tempted to question God about the equity of his life compared to everyone else.  The gospel truth of Christ’s gift to sinful men could serve to turn his thinking around:  “I need to kill my temporal view of blessings and wealth and gain an eternal perspective. From an eternal perspective, I am truly rich.  The Son of God Himself was given to pay the penalty for my sins and to cover me in His righteousness.  I have no sin debt.  And I’ve been made a fellow heir of all the blessings in the heavenly places.”
A young woman has a past filled with abuse and abandonment.  She finds it very difficult to trust anyone, including her new husband.  She has developed a number of defense mechanisms to protect herself from being hurt by others, but mechanisms which also make it nearly impossible to have meaningful relationships with other believers.  The gift of Christ could have a profound affect on the way she views her life:  “People may disappoint me and hurt me, but there is one person I can always trust: Jesus.  The greatest danger I ever faced was eternity in hell, but He saved me from that.  His love is so steady, true, and sure that I can risk letting other people into my life without fear that I will be damaged.  If they hurt me, He will be there.  He is my ultimate source of fulfillment and safety.”
A teen is trying to fight the temptation to return to ungodly activities she engaged in prior to her conversion.  She knows what is right, but the pull is overwhelming and sometimes she gives in.  She is drained by the constant introspection and wonders if she’ll ever be free from her old world.  The truth that Christ was given to set her free could make a big difference in her thinking:  “Christ was given to fully pay for my sin.  My guilt has been removed.  His righteousness was also imputed to my account, rendering me righteous before the Father.  I have a truly new identity in Christ.  I’m not that old person; I’m a new creation.  I will trust in Him for the strength to live in light of my new identity.”
How many times has it crossed your mind today that Christ was given by the Father to live and to die on your behalf?  What difference might that truth have made on your outlook?  Such an important truth can be lost on us for days at a time if we don’t discipline ourselves to think about them.  I exhort you to spend a few minutes thinking about that truth and the difference it could make in your thinking today.
Next time: Christ is sufficient. 

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