Good things are happening in the church of Jesus Christ! But we cannot take credit for it — it is God doing the work, and we are grateful for it.
But we know that there is a great deal of work yet to be done. I think not only of the fact that millions of people in Asia, India and Arabia have not yet heard the gospel, and the large majority do not believe, but I am also mindful that most Americans do not believe the gospel.
More than that, many people who attend churches do not understand what the gospel is! Surveys have shown that many Christians cannot give a clear answer to the simple question, What is the gospel?
For example, most churchgoers believe that they will go to live with God when they die. But when they are asked about the reason that God will let them be there, almost half of them respond with something about good works — being a good person, going to church, obeying God's commandments, etc.
Amazing! They have left Jesus out of the answer! God saves us "not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy" (Titus 3:5). He saves us by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8). He is the one who makes it possible for anyone to be saved. We can never do enough good works to deserve to live with God forever. We can never earn such a reward, but the good news is that God forgives us and counts us as righteous, because of the life and death of Jesus Christ.
Almost every churchgoer, regardless of the denomination, has read or heard these verses, but many of them have not understood the message very well. Millions need to hear the gospel boldly, in its simplicity. They need to hear it in different ways — perhaps from you.
God created us and saved us for the very purpose that we should do good works. But these good works, instead of qualifying us for salvation, are the fruit of God's Spirit at work in us. They are the results of grace and faith in our lives. This message needs to be made clear. We have much work to do.
Even within our own church, we need to understand this in a better way. Christian behavior should flow from the gospel of grace, not from a mistaken idea that God withholds his love and favor until we are good enough or have done enough to merit it. Whatever good we do in this life is to God's glory, not to our credit. We can't earn anything by the work that God does through us!
I am excited by the gospel. It is wonderful news — not only is it the foundation of salvation, it is the foundation of day-to-day Christian living! Because Jesus has lived and died and been raised from the dead, we are new creations — new people!
The message needs to go out — in our own fellowship, in our families, into the society around us, into the uttermost parts of the earth. There is much work to do. Thanks for helping.