The amazing paradox is this: even our repentance and faith which lead to salvation are the result of God’s goodness toward us. It is the kindness of God which leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and He is the one who gives faith (Ephesians 2:8, Hebrews 12:2).
The Gospel Turned Inward
As redeemed ones, we must learn to rely on the goodness of God toward us. It was His act of love and mercy which brought us to salvation, and it is His goodness which sustains us as well. We did not do anything to earn salvation and right standing with God, and we cannot, now, do anything to maintain it. Through the atonement, we are “at one” with Christ. This justifies us (making it just as if we never sinned), and we are declared by God to be not guilty. No amount of striving, no amount of doing, no amount of self-regulation can make me more righteous than I already am.
My perfect church attendance record, my list of memorized Bible verses, my timecard of hours in prayer, and the number of people attending my Bible study cannot make me more righteous. In Christ and through Him alone, we have become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of the over-abounding, all-sufficient goodness of God, we are stripped of any ability to do anything to earn, deserve, or add to the righteousness given us through Christ. We are left only to rest in it. To rest in His goodness. To rely on His grace.
Ministry comes out of a place of resting in the goodness and sufficiency of Christ. We may minister out of a conviction of calling, out of gratitude, or out of compassion for others, but never again should we minister out of a desire to prove anything to God or other human beings. All that could be proven was proven on the cross. Our goal is to learn to rest in what He has already done. We do not live a life on mission doing ministry as a means to earn God’s favor. We do not pray for the sick or evangelize the lost to prove our righteousness. Rather, because of the cross, we are transformed by goodness into a people so full of gratitude that our lives become clay at the potter’s wheel to be used by God as He pleases. We become messengers of the good news because we have partaken of the good news.
The Gospel Turned Outward
Jesus came to earth to save us from ourselves and from the oppressions that bind us. Jesus came to give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners, and hope to the hopeless. It was good news for the woman at the well (John 4:1-26). It was good news for blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52). It was good news to Jairus’ daughter who was raised from death (Luke 8:49-56). It was good news to the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19). It was good news to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43). It was even good news to the Pharisees, although they rejected it. It is still good news today.
Our God is a God of compassion. Not only was it compassion for us that compelled Jesus to go to the cross, it was compassion that compelled Him to heal our brokenness. During His earthly ministry, Jesus often acted out of a motivation of compassion. He had compassion on the crowds of people because they were harassed by the enemy and helpless, so He taught them truth (Mark 6:34, Matthew 9:36). He had compassion on the sick, so He healed them (Matthew 14:14). He had compassion for the blind, so He gave them sight (Matthew 20:34). He had compassion on a hungry crowd of people, so He fed them (Mark 8:2). In the story of the prodigal son, the father was filled with compassion for the son, even though it was the son’s own choices which had led him to his desperate, destitute state (Luke 15:20).
As we are touched by the good news of the gospel, we too are to be motivated by compassion. We can no longer pass by a hurting person and remain unmoved. We can no longer leave the ignorant to suffer from the pain of their lack of understanding. We can no longer stand by as the lost remain oppressed by the entrapment of sin. It is the compassion and justice of Christ which wells up within us and demands something be done. The good news transforms us into people who are bearers of the reality of that good news.
The life we live is no longer our own; we were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We are now in Christ and He lives in us. Galatians 2:20 states: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Because Christ lives in us, He carries on His work on the earth through us. His compassion for the hurting has never ceased, and because He lives in us, we are the healing agents through which He seeks to free the oppressed. We are the agents of Christ’s good news. We are His ambassadors here on earth, demonstrating the love of Christ for broken humanity despite our own weakness and desperate need for Him.
We evangelize the lost because we have embraced the good news and been overcome by it. We minister out of a place of the overflow of the goodness of God toward us. We are so impressed with what Christ has done for us that we are convinced that only in Christ can the needs of the people around us be met. Only in Christ can the lost be saved, the blind see, the oppressed delivered, the imprisoned freed. It is the conviction of the truth of this good news that compels us into a lifestyle of evangelism. When we understand the good news, we are compelled to share that goodness.
Through Christ’s work on our behalf, we are now friends of God, lovers of God. We enter into the benefits of that salvation through simple, childlike trust. Our news is good news: God is a good God and He has taken our sins upon Himself. He has made a way for us to live an abundant life with Him. We need only to receive the good news, trust in Christ, and follow Him. Our role in ministering to others is to be messengers of this good news in word and deed, in proclamation and demonstration.
Brian Blount - From the Sanctuary to the Streets. Coaching Saints Publications. Kindle Edition.