When my daughter made a profession of faith at the age of five, I couldn’t help but worry. I remembered my own faith struggles as a young adult, and I’d heard too many testimonies of false professions. I wanted some way to guarantee that her faith was “real” and not simply a response to her subculture or an attempt to gain her parents’ approval. Turns out, one of us did have a false understanding of the gospel. But it wasn’t her; it was me.
This paragraph is from a piece I recently wrote about how easy it is for us to misunderstand the word “gospel.” For many of us, the “gospel” is synonymous with the specific doctrine of justification or that moment in time when we first realized our need of Christ. But the Scripture doesn’t talk about the gospel this way. Instead, it likens it to a “new life”–an all-encompassing reality, a way of living.
If we forget this, we can be tempted to try to progress in our Christian walk in a way that is fundamentally at odds with how we first came to Christ. We’ll see the point of conversion as a kind of running start, but then we’ll try to run the race through our own abilities. When we do–when we step away from the core principles of the gospel–several things will happen:
1. Our Christian walk will look and feel a whole lot like a religion of works.
2. We will develop Messiah complexes.
3. We will be overwhelmed by failure and live in defeat.
Instead, we must recognize that the gospel is not simply a starting point. It may begin at one point in time–much like my daughter’s profession of faith–but it can’t be contained to one point in time.
In many ways, I was putting too much stock in her profession as an event. I was looking at a new born baby and worrying whether or not she’d be able to run a marathon. Instead, I needed to celebrate the wonder of her birth and believe that just as God had given her spiritual life, He would also sustain and mature that life. Just as He had formed her tiny feet, through time, proper nutrition, and care, He would grow those feet to be able to run the race of faith. And just as her tiny spiritual lungs had filled with life-giving Holy Spirit breath, they would be filled by another and another and another. Each breath happening the same way the first one had—through faith, repentance, and dependence on a God who loved her and had given her life.
You can read the full article over at The Gospel-Centered Woman,