“He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
One of the most impactful experiences I’ve had in my spiritual walk was participating in an international mission trip that I took with my church. We went to help a congregation in Liberia, Costa Rica build a church. We physically built this church from the ground up and became quite good at hauling sand, gravel, and cement. I went because I felt the ‘push’ of God to reach out and help others. This experience of faith turning outward is the topic we studied this week as we considered the ways the gospel moves us into maturity of faith and then compels us to reach out and serve others.
Using the example of the church at Ephesus, our lesson on Day 1 explored how the Ephesian church grew in faith. They had received the message and embraced Christ fully even under resistance. But after Paul left Ephesus, controversy and distortions of truth began to reveal themselves and some believers were turning away. The church at Ephesus had begun to deny the power of the gospel. They had lost sight of keeping ‘the main thing, the main thing.’ In Revelation 2:1-5, the church was commended for their hard work, perseverance, and hatred of the practices of the Nicolatians, but they were warned to return to their first love. They needed to repent and return to the things that they did at first. They needed to regain their missional edge.
On Day 2, we explored how our God creatively fashioned us for specific tasks.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. ” Psalm 139:13-16
Not only did God equip us physically for the missions He placed before us, but He has also provided all the qualities that we need mentally and emotionally. God has assigned each one of us to a specific place and time to serve Him. We are to live with intentional purpose and to view our bodies, our minds, our gifts, and all that encompasses our life as part of His glorious purpose.
Following this understanding, we dug deeper on Day 3 into realizing that as dearly loved children of God, we are freed to dearly love others. We are to reflect His love and character.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:…We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5: 17,18,20
On Day 4, Matt Chandler reminded us that we need to take care in distinguishing between the gospel and our response to the gospel. We must ensure that our good works are a response but not the gospel, itself, in our lives. Put another way — the gospel is our root from where we get nourishment while our response to it, the deeds that we do, is the fruit.
Week 4 concluded on Day 5 with the encouragement that we have only one responsibility and that is to tell people the truth of the gospel. We do not have to have all the answers or a slick presentation. We only need to be open and willing to share. God, Himself, will handle the rest.
Questions to Ponder
- What holds me back from sharing the gospel with everyone I encounter?
- Is my understanding of my spiritual life based on the good things that I do or on the gospel alone?
- What things has God uniquely wired me to do for His glory?
- How is my life reflecting God’s love?
- Why is the gospel offensive to someone?
You’ve crossed the halfway point! Way to go, you’re awesome!
Begin Week 5 lessons this week.