See part 1 for the introduction to this series.
Remedy 2: Remember the Gospel
Again it seems obvious but our Christian life begins, continues and never ends with Jesus Christ.
Our second step then, on the road to recovery will be to remember the Gospel daily.
The great reformer Martin Luther didn’t like the letter of James. He thought it didn’t mention enough about Jesus and his saving work on the cross. In fact, the cross isn’t mentioned once. But it’s implicit, isn’t it?
He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. (James 1: 18)
God has given Christians the gift of new birth – a life restored to him, cleaned up, forgiven. The first fruits are the pick of the crop! He did all this by “the word of truth.” Now listen to these words of the Apostle John – describing Jesus Christ:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1: 1–4, 12)
This word of truth James is talking about is the same Word John talks about – Jesus – God the Son – It’s all Jesus!
- there he is v3 as the agent of Creation, God the Father creating everything through Jesus
- there he is v4 – giving life to everything, and
- there he is v12 making it possible for us to be reborn as Children of God
How could Jesus reconcile proud sinful rebellious humans like us to a perfect God?
- Well, there he is in history – recorded in the Gospels – willingly dying on a cross to bear the punishment for our rebellion and pride, our adultery and envy.
- There he is in history – recorded in the gospels – resurrected – beating death on our behalf
- So making it possible for us to be forgiven and saved from eternal separation from God
- God’s prized possession: brought back into a relationship with Him
It’s the Word of truth about Jesus.
It’s the Word of Truth that is Jesus.
And we were born again – as we humbly accepted this Word planted in us.
So throughout our lives, we must never, never move very far away from the Word of truth. If we do – if we forget who Christ is, what we were and what Christ has saved us from – we will become proud, adulterous Christians. We don’t ‘graduate’ from the simple truth of the gospel to more ‘intellectual, important’ things.
I’m convinced one of our greatest dangers as we go on in our Christian lives is we think we no longer deserve God’s judgment. That, somehow, we’ve done enough good as Christians to have earned our place in heaven – to have cancelled the debt.
As if Christ dying for me was like him paying the deposit on my mortgage. He got me going but I have been paying off the debt since, with all my Christian activity, service for the Lord.
So, we need to hear this.
Today, after being a Christian for [fill in the gap] years, I still deserve God’s judgement. I still deserve Hell. What’s your secret response to that statement? “No, not me! I’m nice now! I must’ve paid him back by now…?”
The glorious news is that my spiritual rebirth is a gift from my Father above – will go on being a gift from my Father above – will always be a gift from my Father above, all through Jesus.
Never ever something I contribute to with my own work.
If we constantly REMEMBER this truth, we will be far less tempted to slip into either self-glorification or fear that I haven’t done enough.
Our self-worth will be rooted in knowing I’m a sinner who is loved and saved by Christ instead of somebody who thinks Jesus needed me on his team.
Next week, we look further at the good news, the surgery, and how we get a right view of ourselves.
Ann Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Find out more at www.annmariethomas.me.uk