In his sermon on the one, true, great, story, Pastor Matt walked through the gospel. This is God’s main narrative, it is the record of him pursuing his people, and the plan he’s had to redeem us all along.
Yet so often we get side tracked. The story which provides us with our primary identity as children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus, this story gets lost in the immediacy of crisis and daily grit. So often we quickly slip back into our default narrative of coping, believing lesser stories which have lesser heroes that temporarily deliver so we can enjoy lesser things. It’s sad but so regularly true.
Take turns around the group to each read a paragraph from the Gospel Fluency Handbook before moving on to dig in deeper.
“When people say they are saved , what do they mean? Think of this chapter as a vocabulary lesson. To become fluent in any language, you must develop your vocabulary. So let’s delve into the aspects of the gospel that are expressed in the person and work of Jesus more fully.
Belief in the gospel is not a one-time decision or a conviction that we need salvation only for our past lives and future afterlives. Belief in the gospel is an ongoing expression of our ongoing need for Jesus. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe (Rom. 1:16). What do we believe? What are we putting our faith in?
Jesus’ life represents both the righteousness of God in human form and the perfect fulfillment of the standard of righteousness on behalf of humanity. If you want to know what the righteousness of God looks like, you look at Jesus’ life, and if you want to be declared righteous by God, you need to have faith in how Jesus lived on your behalf, not just in how he died. We all needed a new human to give birth to a new humanity—a perfect man who is also the true image of God, fully displaying what God is like by living a fully submitted and obedient life before God. Jesus is that man. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15). We need more than the humble life of Christ. We also need the victorious rule and ministry of Christ to overcome Satan’s schemes, bring healing and restoration to the brokenness that sin produces, and provide reconciliation between God and man.
Jesus was betrayed, arrested, wrongly accused, and crucified. The perfect Son of God, the righteousness of God, the one who knew no sin, became sin at the cross so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. We needed a perfect substitute—one without sin, fully pleasing to God—who would die in our place. The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Our sin, our rebellion, every way in which we fall short of the glory of God, were put on Jesus at the cross. His perfect life was exchanged for our life of sin. Jesus died for our sins. He took our sins on himself—on his real physical, human body—and then died for them. Our sins were buried with Jesus. They were not just removed and put in another place. They were destroyed by his death. If your faith is in Jesus, your sins, past, present, and future, were terminated through Jesus’ death.
[Jesus] was raised on the third day and appeared to more than five hundred people. He was raised with a glorified body, one without sin. This was a body for the new creation. The gospel doesn’t just bring about forgiveness of sins and save us from hell. The gospel of Jesus Christ empowers us to live a whole new life today by the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. After Jesus rose from the dead, he ascended to the right hand of God the Father, where he is now making intercession on our behalf. He is continually praying for us, willing to empower us by his Spirit in us, and speaking a better word over us than Satan, sin, or our past experiences speak.
After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, God sent his Spirit to wake us up from spiritual death, convict us of our sin, make the truths of the gospel clear to our hearts, grant us repentance and faith, and bring about new life as a result. By his Spirit, we are born again from the dead, spiritually speaking. We become new creations in Christ. Each of us has a new nature, a new identity, and a new purpose. And the Spirit in those who believe is a sign of all of this. The Spirit is also the means by which we have the power to live entirely new and different lives. He is the sign that we are forgiven and cleansed, changed and made new, chosen and adopted by God—he wants us, he chose us, he changed us, he empowers us, and he loves us.
All of this is a gift. It is all by grace. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2:8–9).”
Read the following passages together. Take time to discuss the idea of faith and salvation in each.
Romans 1:16-17, 3:21-26, 8:9-17
1 Corinthians 15:1-6, 15:20-23
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
When it comes to salvation, think of these 3 elements:
You were saved from the penalty of sin. Jesus did this on the cross, fully, ultimately.
You are being saved from the power of sin. The Holy Spirit is in your corner, daily. While we’re no longer living in fear of the ultimate penalty of sin, it’s power must be overcome daily in our lives through the greater power of the Holy Spirit.
You will be saved from the presence of sin. This is in heaven, where there will be no more sin. The promise is beautiful, and we get a little taste of this each day as we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Matt gave the example of someone who has built their life around a defective alternate story. He asked that we examine the ultimate career oriented man as a case study.
Creation: your friends identity is based upon his performance, He wants to be known in his field of business, and he is only a success if his career reaches a certain height. Which makes him incredibly insecure.
Fall: His career or the hunger for success is his god and he is laying his life down before it in worship because he thinks it will answer the question of your identity and purpose.
Redemption: His saviour is himself, he overworks himself trying to make it to the top. Trying to overcome any obstacle or even doing things he shouldn’t do to try to get the edge.
New Creation: His hope is in his success, or maybe that big break, or finally achieving that desired success…He believes that life will be better once he hits that next level. So he works harder and sacrifices more of himself and his family thinking it will be for just a short time until he hits that next level…but that level comes and nothing changes, and he is left just as unsatisfied as before... the cycle starts over again.
In this example it is easy to see how the life story of this man is defective. But what about you? Where do you slip into believing a story other than the gospel?
For example, something as simple as not taking time to be with God in prayer and reading His word regularly? Do you struggle with this? Why? What is the narrative of your life which gives room for this to be normal? Are you too busy? Is your concept of leisure overly elevated? Are you too exhausted at the end of the day and it’s way too hard to wake up earlier in the morning? If this is someone in your group, how to do you speak the gospel fluently into their life without being legalistic? (Repetition doesn’t equal salvation, but the enjoyment of something leads to particular behaviours).
How does the gospel speak to anxiety?
How does the gospel inform addiction?
Does the story of God in the gospel have anything to say to the person who always has anger bubbling just under the surface?
What about bad collegial relationships or stress at work
What about body image or personal insecurity?
Our culture says that we should look to experts, medications, wardrobe, etc. for our salvation. Each of these have a place, but they are the lesser, and Christ is the greater. But how do you speak gospel into this? Spend some time working through the examples above, or share your areas of struggle with each other if you feel ok with that. Keep this in mind as you speak into someone else's story, "Give them Jesus!"
Our Podcast can be found on: