We have gone to great lengths throughout history to fulfill this longing – some with disastrous effects.
In Romans 1:16, Paul gives clarifying insight, inspired by the Holy Spirit, into how we might could go about this pursuit from God’s perspective. Here Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
I learned this verse a long time ago in the context of evangelism with the focus on the first part of the verse – “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” Because of that context, I read the verse like this – “it (the gospel) is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believed.” As a result, I thought of the gospel as something primarily for non-believers. The gospel was the way non-believers got into heaven.
I was wrong. I was limiting the scope and audience of the gospel. I discovered this, in part, as I looked further at this passage. Note what Paul says – “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Believes not believed. A seemingly small but very significant difference. Believes is present tense. Right now. On going. Believed is past tense. One time. Long ago.
From this distinction I learn that the gospel is not something to believe in once to get saved. The gospel is to be believed in all the time. As such, it is not just for non-believers to become believers, it is for believers throughout our lives. The gospel brings salvation right now as it is believed in right now.
That is why Paul states emphatically “it (the gospel) is the power of God.” Not one of many forms of the power of God. The gospel is the power of God.
This power is for a specific purpose – for salvation. “It is the power of God that brings salvation.” Be careful how you read this. If you say this power if only for saving us from the penalty of our sins, then you limit the saving power of the gospel and the need for ongoing belief.
The salvation Paul is speaking of here is not limited to dealing with the penalty of our sins. Paul shows us how the gospel deals with this problem in Romans 1-3. However, he doesn’t stop there. In Romans 4-8, Paul explains how the gospel deals with another problem – the power of sin. Here, he shows that the gospel is also the way we experience the power of God to save us from the power of sin and eventually the presence of sin. Paul shows us that through the gospel we experience the power of God for true inner transformation, to save us from ourselves, where we long the most to experience the power of God.
How do we experience this power? Believing presently in the gospel – “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”
If you find yourself struggling with the same old struggles, the same sins, the same destructive habits, the same corrupting thoughts, longing to experience the power of God, turn to the gospel. The GOSPEL IS THE POWER OF GOD THAT BRINGS SALVATION TO EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES.
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