It always amazes me how God orchestrates things in our lives. On Monday, you can have a conversation that you totally don’t understand, and by the end of the week see how that conversation played into a another conversation you were going to have on Wednesday.
I have been discipling a young college student each Monday who has tons of great questions about the Bible, Christianity, and God. He recently became a follower of Jesus. He, like many young people in the Bible belt, grew up in church, heard a lot of sermons, got baptized, and went to college without a clear understanding of the gospel. What he heard for 18 years was Moral Deism, good behavior, how to get God on your side. That’s not the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Two weeks ago, as we were wrapping up our discussion of the previous Sunday’s message at Mars Hill, I offered to pray for him and the job interview he was about to have. He said that was fine, but asked, “Before you do that, can I ask you something?”
I said, “sure”.
“How do you pray?”
“Great question,” I said, “the disciples asked Jesus the same thing.”
We turned to Matthew 6 and walked through the Lord’s prayer. Then I asked him what it looks like when he goes to God. “How do you pray to God right now?”
His answer broke my heart.
“Well, I usually pray at night right before I go to bed. It’s really the only time I have to pray. The bad thing is, I’m usually stressed out all day because of some sin I committed that morning but I have to wait all day before I can ask Jesus to forgive me. I sure hope nothing happens to me during the day before I can ask Jesus for forgiveness.”
Is it possible for us to grow up in church and miss the gospel?
How many of us, those of us who seem to know and understand the gospel, still live life this way?
Many of us are still living as if we need to earn God’s approval.
Look briefly to what Paul says to the Corinthians,
[15:1] Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,  and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV).
Who was Paul talking to in this passage? I’ll give you a hint… in verse 1 he calls them, “brothers”.
He was speaking to the church. He was preaching the gospel to people who already knew the gospel. He said that I want to come and “reap a harvest among some of you.” He wasn’t saying, “I want to come and save some of you that are already saved.” He was saying, “I want to come and push some of you closer and closer to holiness.”
In verse 3 he says that I want to remind you of the message that you already know… the gospel.
We need to remind ourselves of the gospel in our own lives. Preach the gospel to yourself, everyday.
When we come to God as if our relationship with him is based off of our own merits, then we only come to God when we’ve done something we can brag about. That’s self righteousness. If we approach God as if his approval is dependent on our good behavior, then when we fail, we’ll run from him.
Paul wants to remind us that our relationship with God is about what Jesus has done. It’s not because we are spectacular, it’s because Jesus is spectacular. He delights in us because of the cross.
When we can understand the gospel in our own lives, that it’s more than just a message we preach to lost people, we have the freedom to pray. We have the freedom to stand before God in all of our failures because we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. There’s no more stress, no more trepidation, no more fear, just Jesus.
When we understand the gospel we can approach God in our failures, rather than run from him, and he allows us to become more and more like Jesus. He reaps a harvest in our own lives, moving us more and more into holiness.
 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
If we miss any of that, we miss the gospel. Because of the life and death of Jesus, we are free from the bondage of sin and death.
Christian, may you find freedom because of what the gospel has not only done in your life, but what the gospel continues to do in your life today. May you draw closer to God, even in your times of failure, that he may remind you of the role the cross still plays in your life. The gospel doesn’t end at salvation, it lives on in our life today. Because of the gospel, God delights in us. Because of the gospel, God is for us.