Then and Now

April 1, 2021 — Krystal Craven
Devotional title text overlaying a cross with a foggy mountain background.

I have heard Christians who have been saved for a while say that the gospel message is for the unsaved and insinuate that they no longer need to hear it since they are saved. Yet Jesus is our salvation and He said He is the Way, Truth, and Life and no one comes to the Father apart from Him.

I think of it more like this: when we hear the gospel and receive salvation, it’s the first breath taken as a new creation in Christ, just as a baby would breathe air for the first time outside the womb. Would that baby no longer need to breathe after taking their first breath? That may sound silly, but with Jesus being the Way, Truth, and Life, then when we get saved, that’s only the start of the journey on the way to seeking and abiding in truth and having abundant life, eventually eternal life in heaven with Him.

The gospel is at the root and is the central theme of the love letter that is God’s word. It was His plan for reconciliation before He ever even created us. Think about these questions:

  • How can we grow in our understanding of God’s love without the gospel? (John 3:16; John 15:13; 1 John 4:19; Romans 5:8)
  • How can we understand how God sees sin and not grow complacent about our sin without the gospel? (James 1:15; 1 John 1:8-10; 1 John 2:2)
  • How can we understand atonement and not live as condemned without the gospel? (John 3:17; Hebrews 9:13-14; Romans 8:1)
  • How can we follow Jesus’ command to take up our cross and follow Him without the gospel? (Matthew 16:24-26)
  • How can we work out our salvation with fear and trembling without the gospel? (Philippians 2:12)

These quotes from Spurgeon and Tozer say it so well “We have an unchanging gospel, which is not today green grass and tomorrow dry hay; but always the abiding truth of the immutable Jehovah.” (C.H. Spurgeon). “Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God…the cross that saves them also slays them” (A.W. Tozer).

The gospel message is the theme of the love letter God wrote to us, and the act of sacrificial love that we are to emulate as followers of Jesus in order to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). If we leave the gospel message at the start line of the race we’re running, how can we expect to focus on the One who the gospel message is about? Jesus will forever bear His scars, so we should daily remember and be thankful for the sacrifice He gave to get them. (Isaiah 49:16; John 20:27; Revelation 5:6)

When we stop and consider the parallels between Jesus and the things we read about in in the Old Testament (just as He opened the scriptures to His disciples on the Road to Emmaus and opened the minds of His disciples to understand the Scripture – Luke 24), we too can gain not only a deeper understanding of God but also a deeper love for Him as we continue to dig into the gospel message. The more we grow in the grace and knowledge of God, the closer and better our relationship with Him gets.

When Jesus yelled out, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani? that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46), that was the one moment in time that He ever experienced separation from the Father as He became sin in order that we might become the righteousness of God. We ourselves have never experienced complete separation from God since the Holy Spirit comes alongside all, regardless of whether He dwells within and upon them. The only humans who will experience the agony of truly being forsaken and separated from God are those who do not accept Jesus as their salvation. When He resurrected and told us, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) He had just experienced how truly teeth gnashing it was to be separated from God and He lovingly reassures us that as His followers, we will never experience that agony. Selah - Pause a moment and really think on this.

Meditation on this truth should not only create in us an overflowing desire to share this truth with others (2 Corinthians 5:18-20), but also invoke a heart of gratitude and worship. To fall at His nail scarred feet and weep at His sacrifice, not just tears of sorrow and repentance for our sin that put Him on that cross, but tears of joy for the sacrifice He made on our behalf and the hope we have in Him. One who has been forgiven much, loves much (Luke 7:41-50) and if the only sin we ever committed was one white lie, it would still be deserving of death, our eternal separation from God (James 2:10; Romans 6:23) and yet we know we are guilty of much more and have been forgiven.

This Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and the rest of our lives, resolve in your heart now to daily look on the cross of Christ afresh and worship God in full surrender. He is worthy!