The Gospel and Spiritual Plateau

The Gospel and Spiritual Plateau

 

  1. The Lie of Arrival

 

The lie of arrival states that God’s purpose in Christ was to reform us rather than to redeem us, to improve us rather than indwell us. When once we determine that we have been somewhat reformed or sufficiently improved we assume that the work of Christ in our life is completed.

 

But this is to minimize the radical intention of the gospel. The gospel is not merely looking for a newly painted house, but for a temple of God. It is not looking for a better citizen, but for a new citizenship.

 

Nothing less than a transformed humanity, reconciled to God and blazing for his glory would be worthy of the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God .

 

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Philippians 3:12-15

 

We assume that because we are not committing worse sins we are not losing our spiritual ground.

 

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall 1 Corinthians 10:12

 

Spurgeon – “Nobody ever slides up, but if great care be not taken they will slide down, slide back, or in other words backslide. This is very easily done. If you want to know how to backslide, the answer is leave off going forward and you will slide backward, cease going upward and you will go downward of necessity, for stand still you never can.”

 

Wrong postures toward change:

–Don’t Need to Change

–Don’t Want to Change

–Can’t Change

 

The gospel confronts the lie of arrival because it is the gospel about a person…it is not simply a judicial or legal transaction, but the introduction to a new identity and passion for Jesus Christ.

 

“The benefits of the gospel [justification, reconciliation, redemption, adoption] are in ChristThey do not exist apart from him. They are ours only in him.” Sinclair Ferguson

 

The lie of arrival only works on us if we forget that the gospel brought us into union with Christ—we weren’t not merely saved from wrath, we were united to Christ.

 

Those who belong to Jesus never stop longing after him and wanting to see and know him. Of course they may go through season of struggle and will constantly fight a wandering heart, but the idea of a heart that is permanently content at a certain level of spiritual fellowship with Jesus Christ or a certain level of godliness is simply foreign to the Scriptures.

 

The gospel results in growth and spiritual hunger.

 

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Revelation 2:4

 

18 But sgrow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. tTo him be the glory both now and to the day of ueternity. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

 

Tell me where you lost the company of Christ, and I will tell you the most likely place for you to find him again. Did you lose the company of Christ by forgetting prayer, and becoming slack in your devotion?…. Then you will find him there. Did you lose Christ through some sin? Then you will find him in no other way but by the giving up of the sin, and seeking by the Holy Spirit to mortify the member in which the lust doth dwell. Did you lose Christ by neglecting the Scriptures? Then you must find Christ in the Scriptures; where you lost him, you will find him. It is a true saying, “Look for a thing where you dropped it, for it is there.” Charles Spurgeon

 

 

  1. The Gospel Motivation

 

  1. The gospel reveals the truth about sin.

 

“You will find that sin was never mortified truly if you have not seen Christ bleeding for you upon the cross.”   Thomas Wilcox

 

  1. The gospel allows us to repent without legalism

 

“Nature can afford no balsam fit for soul cure. Healing from duty and not from Christ, is the most desperate disease. Poor, ragged nature with all its highest improvements, can never spin a garment fine enough (without spot) to cover the soul’s nakedness. Nothing can fit the soul for that use but Christ’s perfect righteousness.” Thomas Wilcox

 

We do not repent to regain God’s acceptance, we do not grow to re-enter God’s presence and love. We repent in the presence of our loving Father, we grow by the Spirit of God who has been given to us.

 

Legalistic repentance is an attempt to continue in the flesh what was begun in the spirit…the cycle of guilt and continual sin will never end until we enjoy the truth that nothing we do in the future can make up for the past…Christ and Christ alone is our assurance for salvation and the motive of our growth is his completed work.

 

  1. The gospel reveals our positive purpose

 

One reason we plateau is that we assume godliness and sin are all about avoiding certain behaviors.

 

In reality our calling in Christ includes positively reflecting him in our love, our servanthood, our humility, our joy, not merely avoiding negative traits like anger and adultery and murder and selfishness.

 

Throughout the new testament the succinct statement of our responsibility is to reflect the Savior who saved us. We fall short of that standard when we only avoid certain grevious sins but lively largely self-centered, self-satisfed lives. The gospel reveals the calling we have because the gospel is the new identity given to us. We are to walk worthy of the gospel, to live out our new identity in Christ.

 

We are not simply to be better than devils…we are to be like Christ.

 

To do good works, which God prepared in advance that we should walk in them.

 

As we look at the gospel that we realize that Christ surely did not die just to create law abiding citizens who mind their own business but to create Christians who reflect the Savior that Saved them, who reveal that within them is the citizenship of a heavenly kingdom.

 

  1. The gospel is the source of new passion for Jesus Christ.

 

For the love of Christ dcontrols us, because we have concluded this: that eone has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, fthat those who live might no longer live for themselves but gfor him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 5:14

 

Philippians 3:8 – Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

 

 

“The Cross is the blazing fire at which the flame of our love is kindled, but we have to get near enough for its spark to fall on us.” ~Stott