What does a Gospel shaped life look like?
There are 4 questions to help us answer what the Gospel shaped life is
- What is the gospel?
- Does the gospel shape our life or not?
- What does the gospel life look like?
- How does the gospel change and shape our lives?
What is the Gospel?
We need to note importantly that the Gospel is news, not advice. Advice is council that you get to help you get something accomplished, good news is information that is accomplished for you.
Religions besides Christianity are all advice, Christianity is news-based. Every other religion comes down to say “here’s how you find God”; Christianity says “I’m God, I’ve come to find you”. Christianity is the other way around.
The Gospel doesn’t come through Jesus Christ, Jesus is the Gospel. The Gospel takes burdens off, not on, whereas advice puts burdens on, this good news takes them off.
Today many fall into advice-giving christianity—legalism instead of Gospel-giving Christianity. These are the people who put burdens on, they are taskmasters, they say you’re not really Christian if you haven’t achieved X, Y & Z (sure there are basics but I’m talking about the Pharisaic people).
The gospel takes the burdens off—the burdens of your past, of your future, or your self-working.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30
Does the Gospel shape life?
Many say the law shapes life, many say the Gospel saves you then turn and become legalistic. The law is still our guide, yes, but it’s not quite right to say the law shapes our life and not the Gospel. Many people’s category of “Gospel” is more of a message than something you live in.
Imagine a person at your work makes a massive mistake and you’re their boss. The CEO charges that person with the failures this massive project and wants to fire them. But you take the blame, saying you didn’t prepare them for such a job and bear the burden of the blame. The CEO, angry as he is, doesn’t fire you, fortunately! But your reputation is tarnished. Your employee thanks you, however you say, don’t worry about it. They then press you—bosses take the credit for the good but rarely the blame for something they didn’t have to do. So you tell them “I’ll say this, and I’ll say this now… I’m a Christian and my life is based on a man who took the blame for me.”
Is this following the law? You Don’t have to take the blame even if you are partly responsible perhaps. Here this might be a person being shaped by the gospel, not just following the law like a list. Generally, there is no Christian command to get into trouble at someone else’ expense, yet the sacrificial nature is indeed Christ-like.
When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?Galatians 2:14 — Paul confronting Peter
Paul says Peter is not in line with the Gospel, not law. Can you look in the law and see that the law of God says you shouldn’t be racist? Yes of course, but racism isn’t just breaking a rule, it’s motivated by boasting a level of superiority, things on the inside. The Gospel changes race attitudes, class attitudes etc. The gospel changes the way you look at the law, people etc.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.2 Corinthians 8:9
Paul doesn’t want it to sound like an order to give, he doesn’t want them to think like that. Paul doesn’t use his apostolic authority or knowledge of the law, he’s telling them to let the Gospel shape their law. If you think giving 10% tithe is what God wants you to do, and you feel good for that, you’ve missed the point. Did Jesus tithe his blood when he bought us with a price on the cross? No.
Look at how Christ loved us and go and do likewise—can you get all that just from the law? No. The motivation has got to be Gospel-centred, not law-centred.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.Titus 2:11-15
The grace of God teaches us to say no.
Though some say no for other reasons
- No because I’ll be unpopular
- No because I’ll that’ll make life more difficult
- No because… basically it won’t pay off in some way,
These are selfish No’s.
Instead saying “Jesus Christ died so I wouldn’t do that. For me to do that is like taking Christ’s blood and throwing it in his face. How could I do that?”
Beating yourself with consequences doesn’t help either.
The Gospel makes you weep, it’s a life of love, the law makes you frustrated you failed to tick a box.
What does the Gospel shaped life looks life?
“you are not your own, you are brought with a price”1 Corinthians 6:19a
You are brought by grace, therefore you are not your own. You now live a life of deep unselfishness towards God and everyone around you. You are to live a life of unselfishness for God.
It is true Christianity makes people more generous, more charitable. Christianity create unselfishness. But it can make you more tribal, it can create this sense that “you’re the infidel” or “subhuman”.
Secular society makes us selfish, religion makes us tribal because of that we have a declining and fragmenting society.
Secularism — selfish
Religion — tribal
Gospel — Fulfills yet humbles you. Living for something greater than yourself
When one sins here’s how 3 worldviews react in Christianity:
The moralist says — Find what you’re doing wrong and repent.
The relativist says — You need to find people who will build you up, enjoy yourself, focus on your feelings.
The gospel believing person — Focuses on the heart. Something in your life has become more important than God. Find what it is, you’re probably giving it more control than it needs in your life.
The Gospel makes you not think too much of yourself or not too little of yourself, it makes you think of yourself less often. You’re full, you don’t need to gain self-acceptance from anyone else.
How does the Gospel change and shape our lives?
In essence through Worship essentially. Giving love and experiencing the love of Christ, seeing him as the ultimate beauty that will transform your life.
So the Gospel focused life leads you to a desire to emulate and love Christ, whereas the law makes you a legalistic pharisee. You become a pursuer of following the commands.
Command following is something early on in my walk with Christ I struggled with and still do occasionally today. It is so tempting to set yourself moral goals to achieve, but that is to just look at the Bible from the wrong angle. I am not declaring don’t correct sin in others lives. When you correct someone’s sin in their life, how do you feel?
Do you feel the responsibility to make it known they have sinned my reeling off Bible passages? Are you upset inside and desire to help them out of their sin and correct them with Christ-like compassion? One of the answers is legalistic, the other comes with a desire not to shun, to shame, but to restore.
The Gospel restores, the law shames.