Many Christians believe two thirds of the gospel: we see it as a past event, that greatly benefits our future. This understanding misses the third, present reality of the gospel and its impact on our lives.
Praise God, the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus IS a historic reality, and for those who God has redeemed, that we CAN look back on the day, or process through which, he did. And praise God, the promise of an eternal, restored relationship with our God and Father in a new heavens and earth IS a guaranteed promise through the blood of Jesus.
But if that’s all the gospel is, then how does it impact our everyday lives? In other words, is the gospel truly “good news” in our present reality, between those past and future extremes?
In Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul – after guarding Christians against failing attempts to grow in Christlikeness through exclusive head-knowledge, through relying on rules created by our deceitful hearts, and through easy-win plans and schemes (4:14) – tells us that the way we grow up into Christ is by “speaking the truth in love” (4:15). The “truth” is the gospel: how does the good news of Jesus apply to specific needs; to every situation we face?
Here are a few examples of how the gospel is good news in our present lives: if the gospel is the pinnacle of God’s grace, then it frees us from needing to prove ourselves to, or seek approval from, God, others, or even ourselves. If we don’t realize the gospel’s implication in the present, some of us will continue striving to be “more”. If the gospel displays God’s sovereign goodness, then when we feel out of control, instead of trying to reclaim control (or, “become like God”), we can trust that God is still in control, and that “all things work together for good” (because that’s another promise he makes; Rom 8:28).
We could go on and on: in the gospel, God tangibly reminds us that he is joy in joyless moments, hope in hopeless ones, and peace in the chaos. He’s freedom when we feel trapped, forgiveness when we sin, and a way out when we’re tempted. He’s a companion to the lonely, a balm to the hurting, and a restorer of brokenness. And so much more! In the good news of Jesus, God has “granted us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3)! In a word, the gospel reminds us that God is God, that his promises are true, and that by his Spirit he is fulfilling those promises, in each person and in all of life.
If we’re honest, even the most committed Christian needs to be reminded of that, every single day. That’s why we need to be reminded of the gospel – from the Spirit, from our own minds, and from Christians around us, all “speaking the truth in love,” as we all “grow up in every way into him who is [our] head, into Christ.” That’s why it’s “good news” that the gospel isn’t just a past and future reality, but applies to every moment of our present, everyday lives and situations too.