1. The gospel is the story of the loving God rushing to save and restore a broken relationship with humankind.
a. God initiated and completed salvation. He entered our dark world in a human form in order to redeem us.
b. This is far from the disgruntled Father image we’ve often portrayed of God. He desired us. Salvation derives from his abundant love. Since his love for us is steadfast, we can confidently approach him without fear in whatever condition we may find ourselves.
2. Personal salvation is trading our sinful life and aspirations for the spiritual life God gives and is existentially.
a. To be saved means that our relationship toward God has changed, from enemy (by our actions—he was never our enemy; we were his) to sons and daughters by adoption. It is indicated by our intent to trust him and live for him.
b. To be saved means that we acknowledge our own moral depravity and that this separates us from the holy God.
c. To be saved as Jesus explains it is an implicit acknowledgement of objective moral values given by one moral lawgiver, who is God; that this law is supreme; and that we have trespassed and disregarded it.
d. To be saved means we trust in the faithfulness of God to be true to his promise to deliver us from sin and its condemnation.
3. Salvation happens by God’s merciful pardon, or grace, alone. No part of it is earned by any goodness or action of our own, now and forever.
a. God’s forgiveness covers all our sins—past, present, and future. We should never feel unloved or that he will reject us because he loves us intensely and desires our wholeness and well-being.
i. God will never at any time love us more or less than he does right now. His love for us is constant.
ii. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s love or cause us to lose it. Even if we were to lose our souls in eternal perdition, God’s love for us would remain the same.
iii. The holiness of Christ is fully ours at this very moment. We need not seek to become holy or feel that we must do something to make ourselves righteous. Jesus has already earned our salvation and has imparted his own righteousness to us. We only need receive it.
b. One does not go to Hell due to his behavior; he or she goes because they did not receive the grace of God by believing on Christ.
c. All sin is equal in God’s sight. No sin is larger or smaller than another because they all are reprehensible to the holiness of God and deserve punishment. Every person has entered life under the curse of sin and needs salvation. Christ offers it to all.
4. Jesus took upon himself the shame of our sins so we wouldn’t have to be shamed by them.
a. We are free from the domination of guilt in the form of condemnation.
b. We are accepted by God regardless of our present faults. Jesus’s righteousness covers us.
i. An assurance of salvation is our desire and struggle to stop sinning.
c. Nothing about our past should be a stigma. We should not brand others (saved or unsaved) by their sin or feel that their former life needs to be exposed. We trust in the saving, transforming power of God and should demonstrate grace to one another. We are all former sinners.
5. Reform in our lives becomes our worship to God now that his grace has saved us.
a. We alter the things we should not do not to earn God’s favor but because we have received it. In so doing, we love God back since he first loved us. It should be our joy to honor him with holy lives considering our debt he has forgiven.
i. Our actions toward God are actually responses to his. He is the initiator. Having been spiritually dead, he called us to life. Further, our present life in him is lived by faith in his enabling power. We are unable to make a move toward him until he has first moved toward us.
ii. This (a.) is the meaning of ‘taking up our crosses.’ Any ascetic aspect of our discipline, any mortification, should not be a sorrowful or regretful experience; instead, it should be characterized by joy. We willingly and gladly put away our dead works because of the grace we’ve received.
b. We are free to serve God and to live in a godly manner. Our freedom is no license to sin, although we may struggle with sinful habits at times. Instead, our freedom is a privilege to worship God with every part of our lives.
i. Sometimes freedom proves to us how much we love darkness and how chronic a sin is in our souls.
6. God’s power is available to us by the Holy Spirit to enable us to produce godly virtue in exchange for our bad habits.
a. Our responsibility in living toward God is to receive the love and grace of God and, with the Spirit’s help, amend what dishonors him. Our aim is to allow God to spiritually transform us—to refashion us in every way that it changes us body, soul, and spirit.
b. Our righteousness in Christ does not consist in managing our sins or unnecessary behavior modifications. Our identity lies in the work of Christ, not in how holy we make ourselves, which only the Spirit can accomplish. This is why we rely on God’s love and grace and must concede to always be in God’s debt.
7. Those who have received the grace of God are now ambassadors of it.
a. Christ now gives us the ministry of saving others.
b. We cannot minister to others we don’t love or those we pity. Christ is our example in ministry. We will love others whom we see with God’s eyes. We will understand their deep spiritual need. Those we pity are those we feel sorry about while being glad we don’t have to live as they do. Yet pity disgraces others and causes us to “love” from a distance; however, compassion will make us spring to help them.
c. Grace extends to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Although we are saved, we are all at different stages of growth, intentionally and by neglect. We must show grace to one another despite our faults and never hold past sin against one another.