The gospel is this: we are not loved because we are lovely, but in spite of our unloveliness. We are not loved because we have made ourselves worthy of love, but because Jesus died for us when we were unattractive in order to make us attractive.
God works through God-fearing people to produce God-fearing families. This results in the power of the Spirit working through the bride of Christ (local church), taking the gospel to their own community and to the ends of the earth.
The gospel produces a constellation of traits in us:
- First, we are compelled to share the gospel out of love.
- Second, we are freed from the fear of being ridiculed or hurt by others, since we already have the favor of God by grace.
- Third, there is a humility in our dealings with others, because we know we are saved only by grace, not because of our superior insight or character.
- Fourth, we are hopeful about anyone, even the "hard cases," because we were saved only because of grace ourselves.
- Fifth, we are courteous and careful with people. We don't have to push or coerce them, for it is God's grace that opens hearts, not our eloquence or persistence or even their openness.
Mark 5:18-20 (HCSB)
18 As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed kept begging Him to be with Him.
19 But He would not let him; instead, He told him, “Go back home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.”
20 So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.
The humbling nature of the gospel must lead us to approach others without superiority. Since we are saved only by God's grace and not by our goodness, we expect to often find wisdom and compassion in others, which at many points may exceed our own. You will be an ineffective gospel-bearer If you are not driven by humility, love, and a respect for others (Matt. 22:37-40).
The love that we experience because of the gospel must remove from us the fear of others disapproval. Is our boldness increasing? If not, we must repent and reflect on the gospel and God's acceptance of us until fear diminishes.
1 Peter 3:15-16 (ESV)
15 but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;
16 yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
Frank Retief, a pastor and church planter in South Africa, writes, “people without Christ go to hell—If you really believe that you've got to take risks, take a chance and be prepared to fail.”