What Can You Do To Get in the Game?

Before going off to seminary in Fort Worth, I lived in Dallas and I attended FBC Dallas. While I was there, they ran a campaign entitled “Get in the Game”. The purpose of this campaign was to call people off the sidelines and into the game. They ran the campaign because believe it or not, there was a lack of people who were serving, even though they had thousands of members.

The problem they had isn’t uncommon or unique to them. Many churches face similar issues. I am not sure who did the research, but the consistent statistic I see over and over again is that 20% of the people do 80% of the work in churches. That means only 20% of the people are employing their God given gifts to further the kingdom of God. That is a problem because Jesus expects 100% of the people who are following Him to be employing their God given gifts to further the kingdom.

Jesus expects everyone to be on the field, He expects everyone to be in the game. In His kingdom, no one sits the bench. Everyone plays.

What Can You Do To Get in the Game?

Let me give you three fundamental things you can do right now to get in the game.

(1) A relationship with God is needed before you will use your gifts for the kingdom

If you don’t have a relationship with God, you aren’t going to exercise your gifts to further His kingdom. It’s as simple as that, so if you want to get in the game, you have to first have a relationship with God.

The only way to have a relationship with God is through Jesus. You must believe that Jesus is your Savior and you must profess Him as your Lord.

So that’s the first thing that must be true in your life, if you are going to get in the game. You must have a relationship with Jesus and the Spirit must be working in your life.

(2) Trust God enough to use your gifts to further the kingdom

Working for the kingdom involves risk and cost — emotionally, physically, and monetarily. These costs might be what’s keeping you out of the game. But they shouldn’t. God is the all-sovereign, all-powerful God of the universe. He controls everything, which means that He can and will provide us with what we need to serve Him. We just have to trust God enough that He will do that.

(3) Care about and love others enough to use your gifts

When we don’t use our gifts to serve others in the church, essentially what we are saying is that we don’t care about and love others enough to do so. Instead, we care more about ourself, our comfort, our life, than we care about them.

But here is the thing. Christianity isn’t a religion that is focused on self. It is other oriented. Jesus is the prime example. We are Christians today. We experience salvation and a relationship with God today because Jesus was selfless. He cared about and loved others more than Himself. And that’s what drove Him to serve us on the cross.

So if we want to get in the game, we need to first have a relationship with God, then we need to trust God, and lastly, we need to care about and love others more than ourselves. If we need the motivation to do that, we only need to look to Jesus and the care and love He extended to us.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you using your God-given gifts to further the kingdom?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon Why Should We and How Can We Use Our God Given Gifts?

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Why Shouldn’t We Change the Gospel? – Part 4

The gospel was being distorted in Galatia by a group called the Judaizers. Essentially they were teaching that the Gentiles had to accept circumcision alongside the message that Jesus was their Lord and Savior. While it was a small change, it was still a change. A change that made all the difference. Remember the gospel tells us that we can do nothing to earn our own salvation, and here the Galatians were being taught that they had to do something.

There are a number of things we can add to or replace the gospel with, but doing so changes and distorts the gospel so that it’s no longer good news. It is just another form of works based salvation labeled as the gospel. When we change the gospel today, we are essentially committing the same error as the Judaizers in Paul’s day.

But we shouldn’t change the gospel. Why is that?

Why shouldn’t we change the gospel? (vs. 3-8)

As I have already alluded to:

(1) Changing the gospel makes salvation impossible.

If we are forced to rely on our own works, we’ll never experience salvation.

When I was in college, I let my credit card get a little bit out of control. Nothing too crazy, but it wasn’t something I could pay off while I was in college. I just worked part-time at a climbing wall. It was a fun job, but it didn’t pay a lot, so I ended up graduating college with some debt. Now, I didn’t keep that debt for long. After I got my first job out of college, I paid it off quickly.

We often think of salvation like that. Like it’s a debt we have to work off by doing good works. If we do enough good works, God will forgive us and we will experience eternal life. But that’s not how it works. God doesn’t accept our works as payment towards our debt. He only accepts the work of Jesus on our behalf.

Paul makes this clear in Galatians 1 when he says,

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,” (Ga 1:3–4)

You see, it was Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf that gave us peace. It was His sacrifice that delivered us. Not our works. That’s the case because that’s how God designed it. Notice that Paul says that this is “according to the will of our God and Father,” Since God doesn’t change, the payment He requires doesn’t change. So, if we change the gospel to a works based system of salvation, we make salvation impossible because God doesn’t accept our work as payment towards our debt.

(2) Changing the gospel leaves us with a disturbed conscience

Starting in the middle of verse 7 Paul says,

“but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” (Ga 1:7b)

The idea here is that changing the gospel doesn’t help us instead it hurts us. Paul tells us that these folks are troubling the Galatians. It troubles them, it troubles us because a works based system produces emotional distress. It makes us uneasy because we don’t know where we stand with God. We know that’s true because when you talk to folks who are caught up in a works based system you hear them more often than not say something to the effect of: “I sure hope I have done enough.” The point being, they don’t know if they have done enough. They just hope they have done enough, which means they are left in limbo, always wondering if they are good enough. That affects us. It affects us emotionally producing a disturbed conscience.

But as Christians we don’t have to worry about where we stand. If we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are God’s children. We will experience salvation instead of eternal damnation. We can be sure of that because Jesus’ work is enough. It has satisfied God’s wrath, so we don’t have to worry. Nor do we have to live with a disturbed conscience, but those who change the gospel do.

(3) Changing the gospel means we aren’t delivered from bondage.

In verse 4, Paul tells us that Jesus

“gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age.” (Ga. 1:4)

If we add works to the gospel, that means we don’t understand or believe the gospel. We aren’t trusting in Jesus as our Savior, which means He hasn’t delivered us from bondage. Since we can’t deliver ourselves, we remain in bondage. Satan remains our master and we his slaves.

(4) Changing the gospel means that we are taking worship away from God.

In verse 5, Paul tells us that our salvation should result in God’s glory forever and ever. But if we make salvation a work that we do, we steal God’s worship away from Him. Instead of it being about God’s grace and sacrifice on our behalf, it’s about our work. What we do. Our ability to muster the effort, to crack the code of salvation. When we think like that, we’ll find that we start praising ourselves for what we’ve done, instead of what God has done in our lives. So changing the gospel steals worship away from God.

(5) Changing the gospel means that we will face a curse.

In verse 8 Paul says,

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Ga 1:8)

The idea here is that those who change the gospel will face a curse, and that curse is eternal damnation.

Conclusion

We must see that changing the gospel isn’t a good idea. It might be tempting because we often think we have to do something in return for what we are given. But that’s not so with the gospel. It’s a gift of God that’s freely given. Nothing is required of us. We should rest in that understanding. If we don’t salvation is impossible, we will most likely experience a disturbed conscience, we will continue to live in bondage, we won’t give God the worship He deserves, and ultimately, we will experience eternal death instead of eternal life.

While change can be good, when it comes to the gospel, it’s not. What we need to do, then, is rest in the biblical gospel, trusting in God’s wisdom for salvation.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you see why changing the gospel is not a good thing?
  2. What are some other reasons we shouldn’t change the gospel?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon: Why shouldn’t we change the gospel? You can listen to it here.

Why Shouldn’t We Change the Gospel? – Part 3

The gospel was being distorted in Galatia by a group called the Judaizers. Essentially they were teaching that the Gentiles had to accept circumcision alongside the message that Jesus was their Lord and Savior. While it was a small change, it was still a change. A change that made all the difference. Remember the gospel tells us that we can do nothing to earn our own salvation, and here the Galatians were being taught that they had to do something.

While it’s a common assumption that we must do something in order to earn our salvation, that’s not, as Paul points out, the gospel. Instead the gospel tells us that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation. It is a gift of God that’s freely given to those who don’t deserve it.

There are a number of things we can add to or replace the gospel with, but doing so changes and distorts the gospel so that it’s no longer good news. It is just another form of works based salvation labeled as the gospel. When we change the gospel today, we are essentially committing the same error as the Judaizers in Paul’s day.

But how do we know the gospel hasn’t changed?

How do we know the gospel hasn’t changed? (vs. Ps 33:11; Is 26:4; Jas 1:17; Mal 3:6)

That question is one that is directed at God’s character, His trustworthiness, which is why we must explore who God is in order to find answer.

Let me make a bold statement to start us off. One I will prove in a moment.

We know the gospel hasn’t changed because God Himself hasn’t changed, which means the way He relates to us hasn’t changed.

Scripture testifies to that idea. In Psalms 33:11 we read,

“The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” (Ps 33:11)

Then Isaiah says,

“Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” (Is 26:4)

And in the New Testament James says,

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (Jas 1:17)

These Scriptures tells us that God doesn’t change.

Objection

Before you say, “Of course the Bible would say that God doesn’t change. It is God’s book!” Before you levy that claim against this argument, consider how the Bible was written. To be sure, it wasn’t written in one go by one author. Instead, it was written by a multitude of authors over thousands of years. The fact that they all testify to the unchanging trustworthiness of God tells us that we can trust the idea that God doesn’t change.

Since God doesn’t change, the way we experience salvation doesn’t change. 

God, Himself, in Malachi 3:6 testifies to this when He says,

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Mal 3:6)

God’s statement was good news to the Israelites, and it’s good news to us, because we aren’t always faithful to God. There are times when we sin against God, when we rebel, but God remains faithful. He doesn’t change. He doesn’t forget His promises.

From these ideas we can infer that God doesn’t change the way we experience salvation either. Salvation has never been achieved through our works. It’s always been through Jesus’ work on our behalf. We can be sure that will not change because God doesn’t change.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you believe God is unchanging?
  2. Have you seen evidence of God’s faithfulness in your life?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon: Why shouldn’t we change the gospel? You can listen to it here.