This post is by Trillia Newbell (Author of United: Captured By God’s Vision For Diversity). Newbell serves as the consultant on Women’s Initiatives for The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. To see the entire series click here. You can preview a full month of The Gospel Project here. Or click on these links if you would like to purchase the Atonement Thread for adults or students.
The Gospel is the Good News to a dying world. It is the news that saved me as I was walking blindly in my sin and towards eternal damnation. It is the Gospel that brings salvation but God’s atoning work on the Cross doesn’t stop at salvation. Once saved and for as long as I live (here and forevermore), I will be receiving the benefits of Christ’s work. I will also be transformed more and more to his likeness until that day when I am face to face with my Savior and the sin that clings so closely is destroyed for good. But until that day, I live among other sinners just like me and yet Christ’s payment of my sin debt affects the way I treat others.
In 1 John, John gives us a call to action based on the work that Christ did on our behalf. He says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (3:16). Jesus reveals his love for us through the Cross. There is no greater evidence of God’s abundant love and compassion for us in that He placed His Son on the cross to die on our behalf. And there is no greater love than that which Christ has shown us by absorbing the full fury of His Father’s wrath and our sin. Jesus did not fight for His rights to the throne of grace where He rightly belonged. On the contrary, Jesus “in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6-7,). Christ laid down his life for us and because of his great sacrifice we should be compelled to lay down our lives for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
John again challenges us to look to the needs of others, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (3:17-18). Loving others is one of the many ways we put our faith into action. Like Christ, we die to our own needs, our preferences, and in times of others’ needs, our very own bodies and goods to show love and compassion to others. In the Gospel of John, Jesus commands that we love one another just as he has loved us. The sacrificial love on display between Christians is a sign to all people that we are followers of Jesus Christ—by this all will know that we are his disciples (John 13:34-35). We must look to Jesus as our example of love and we must cling to Jesus for the strength to love. We will be continually learning how to love and have compassion on others. Jesus is a friend of sinners and it is by his blood that we can be too.