My sin is great - great sin that produces worry, anxiety, and fear in my soul, sin that deadens my spirit and alienates me from eternity. The last thing I need is a self-help gospel. I am helpless. I don’t need another three-step program. I don’t need a better me, I need a transformed me. I don’t need a better life, I need a new life.
Too often, the gospel is reduced down to a quaint, cute story about a phenomenal man (Jesus) who inspires us and examples for us a new way of living. This is partly true. In fact, Jesus was the most inspiring person to have ever walked this terrestial ball. But is Jesus just an inspiring example? Is an inspiring example the best God can do? I can find plenty of inspiring stories in sports or in the military. A good example may inspire me but it won’t save me or change me.
The gospel is more than inspiring; the gospel is regenerating (it makes me alive), transforming (it changes me), justifying (it declares me not guilty), and sanctifying (it begins a work in me that will one day be complete). A cute, quaint, self-help, three-step mish-mash of “me and God” just doesn’t cut it. I don’t need more of me in the process. That’s the problem. I need less of me. Correction! I need none of me because I am dead in my sin. I need to be made alive. This is the kind of gospel I need.
The gospel is the only kind of transforming, life-altering good news God gives us in Jesus Christ. God enacted the “great exchange” in Jesus Christ. He exchanged my unrighteousness for the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In other words, God imputed my sins to Jesus Christ ‘as if’ he had committed them so that he could impute to me Christ’s righteousness to me ‘as if’ I had never sinned. This exchange is realized in me when God awakens me from the deadness of my sin and makes me new in Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:1). Once awakened in Jesus Christ I’m no longer on the run from God, fearing that I’ll be caught and exposed for the fraud that I am. In Christ I am forgiven. Who, then, should I fear?
So, away with the cute, the quaint, and the purely practical; in with the conquering, transforming, life-changing, fear-smashing, worldview altering gospel of Jesus Christ.