I feel like I write the same thing over and over again in my blog posts, but they are just manifested in a different manner. I think this post will explain why. I have been going through the book of 1 Corinthians and a couple weeks ago I stumbled across this text that reminded me of the centrality of the Christian faith.
1 Corinthians 9:14-16 says: “In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”
I am sure that if you are a Christian, you’ve heard of Tim Keller’s famous quote about the gospel of the Christian faith that goes like this: “Belief in the gospel is not just the way to enter the kingdom of God; it is the way to address every obstacle and grow in every aspect. The gospel is not just the “ABCs” but the “A-to-Z” of the Christian life.” When I first became a believer, I remember I would hear the message of the cross over and over again and wonder why I couldn’t just move on to other elements of the Christian faith. It wasn’t until about three years ago that God revealed to me that every aspect of the Christian faith is tied to the death and resurrection of Jesus. As Christians, we have to be reminded of the gospel, just as much as non-believers need to hear the gospel. That’s the mystery and beauty of the gospel. It keeps us humbled. We are to be rooted in this glorious truth. Throughout much of the New Testament, the apostle Paul reminds followers of Jesus of the gospel. He urges them (and us) to not forsake our first love, which is Christ in his death and resurrection. In this text, he says that we should get our living from the gospel. Nothing else besides Jesus can bring life. Yet we often forget that because we are sinful and human. We run to other things that cannot hold what our hearts truly desire.
The other part of this text convicted me. When Paul says, “For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting” I thought about the confidence he has in Christ and how often I do not have confidence in Christ alone. Paul is saying two things here—Christ is the only ground we have to boast (we cannot boast in anything we do or in who we are, but who Christ is) and Christ is more glorious than this temporary life. Death is gain in light of the gospel because we have been promised an inheritance that cannot be taken away if we have put faith in Christ. The beautiful thing about proclaiming the gospel is that it frees us up to not be phonies. We get to admit that we aren’t the point in this life and that Christ is—that He alone is our only boast and hope. It is freeing to be humbled in a way that allows no room for our pride to take over. Society would say otherwise, that life is all about us. But pride is crippling and it overtakes us when we think we are the center of everything. The gospel breaks our pride and leaves no room to boast, except in Christ. It is a message that makes Christ look like the beautiful treasure that he truly is.
If I am not daily reminded of the freedom found in the Cross of Christ, I will be led astray to seek my own abilities and my own glory ultimately. The power of the cross is enough. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Christ is enough. I don’t have to nor am I called to add or subtract to the message of the gospel. There is nothing more reassuring than to tell myself and tell others that Christ is enough. The message of the gospel is for me, but it is not about me. So many times, I think Christians (especially in Western culture) want to take credit. The only thing we bring to the table is our sin. Christ brings restoration and satisfies God’s wrath at the cross. He opens blind eyes. He brings the spiritually dead to life. He prompts us to desire what is holy and good because of Christ. He grants wisdom. So if you’re a Christian and you witness to someone who is not or you wrestle to believe that Christ is enough, remember that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. We are to set our eyes on him, not ourselves. And we are to encourage others to do the same. Friends, keep pressing into the gospel. Let the truth of it set deep in your heart and if it doesn’t stir your affections, plead with God to grant you the desire to boast in his death and resurrection alone.
Christ is all,