Our elders had such a great time together at our annual overnighter a couple weeks back. We always do something a bit different. This year one of the things we did was together read through a good portion of Tim Keller's "The Prodigal God." It was so encouraging to my heart to watch the elders grapple with the Gospel and its implications/applications for their lives and our church.
The Prodigal God is a short, but excellent read, that opens up the heart of the Gospel in fresh and new ways. Grab it and read it with us.
Here's a great section about the transforming power of Gospel motivation in contrast to most religious/guilt/law/fear motivation . . .
All change comes from deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ and living out of the changes that understanding creates in your heart. Faith in the gospel restructures our motivations, our self-understanding, our identity, and our view of the world. Behavioral compliance to rules without heart-change will be superficial and fleeting.
The gospel is therefore not just the ABCs of the Christian life, but the A to Z of the Christian life. Our problems arise largely because we don't continually return to the gospel to work it in and live it out. That is why Martin Luther wrote, "The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine...Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually."
"Wait, " I have heard people object. "You mean that in order to grow in Christ, you keep telling yourself how graciously loved and accepted you are? That doesn't seem to be the best way to make progress. Maybe the motivation of religion was negative, but at least it was effective! You knew you had to obey God because if you didn't he wouldn't answer your prayers or take you to heaven. But if you remove this fear and talk so much about free grace and unmerited acceptance-what incentive will you have to live a good life? It seems like this gospel way of living won't produce people who are as faithful and diligent to obey God's will without question."
But if, when you have lost all fear of punishment you also have lost incentive to live an obedient life, then what was your motivation in the first place? It could only have been fear. What other incentive is there? Awed, grateful love.
So what is the motivational wiring of your own heart? Is it motivated by rule keeping? Is it motivated by fear? Is it motivated at at all? Does it need to be rewired with the Gospel?
How do we rewire our hearts with the Gospel?
It takes time. We must hear the Gospel regularly. . . .the love of God manifested in the person and work of Jesus Christ. . . . we must contemplate our indentity and inheritance in Jesus. . . . . . we have to let the grace of God grip and grab our hearts and imaginations.. . . .we must taste and savor that the Lord is good and His promises are sweet. . . . we must put Christ at the center of our thoughts and affections. . . .
We need others, who are desiring the same, to do this with us. To speak the Gospel into our lives and to pray for us.
We need to pray ourselves.
All of this speaks of reordering our lives around the truth and grace of the Gospel. Rewiring our hearts requires reordering our lives. . . .our time, our energy, our priorities. Eliminating distractions. Laying aside the many things that trip us up. Abandoning trivial pursuits. Fixing our eyes on Jesus. Not in a legalistic fashion or out of guilt or fear, but out of a desire to see, know and experience the Gospel of God's grace and its transforming power.