“If the gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian life but the A to Z, we can expect that the gospel is for all of life, not just the moment of conversion. The gospel’s saving work is deep work. It is deep tissue massage, spiritual reparative therapy, and radical reconstructive surgery.” Jared Wilson in Gospel Deeps
My recent posts have highlighted the importance of renewing our mind. Our thinking is prone to get off track, believe lies, filter things through our faulty grid, and be swayed by competing voices. Unless we are active in the fight by taking every thought captive and renewing our mind with biblical truth, we’re doomed. Of all the things we then talk to ourself about or set our minds on, none top the gospel in importance. The gospel sets us straight about who God is, who we are now in Christ, and how we can and should live in light of these realities.
Recently I had taught on some key gospel doctrines: justification, reconciliation and adoption, regeneration, and union with Christ. You could add some others, but these are key aspects of the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ. To be clear, when I say “gospel” I mean the saving message that sinners far from God and deserving of his righteous judgment can be forgiven, restored, reconciled, and adopted as God’s children through the finished work of Jesus Christ for them, which is received by grace alone through faith alone. Justification, adoption, and regeneration are not themselves the gospel, but each is a key component and benefit of what happens to us when we are united to Christ.
Justification deals with the legal aspect of salvation (and the legal problem of guilt and condemnation from sin). Reconciliation and adoption deal with the relational aspect of salvation (including the relational problem of alienation). Regeneration—and positional sanctification—deal with the transformative aspects of salvation (including the enslaving and corrupting influence of sin we’re freed from).
The gospel that unites us to Christ—by grace through faith—not only provides the righteousness of Christ (justification) and a relationship with the Father (adoption), but it is also renews us as we receive the Spirit who conforms us into Christ’s image (sanctification).
Returning to the importance of renewing our mind with gospel truth, part of how we do that is to “check” ourselves with good questions. Questions can force us to pause, reflect, and evaluate our thinking, desiring, feeling, and acting so we can better align them with what is good and true. With that in mind, below are some questions you might ask yourself to renew your mind and live according to God’s truth–not what you feel, what you’re tempted to believe, or what other sources might tell you is the case–in these categories.
A key caveat is that a person can’t really ask and answer these questions, if they don’t understand the gospel doctrines being discussed. This assumes a person has believed in the gospel and understands these key doctrines enough to then reflect on them.
Questions to help us renew our mind with the truth of justification:
- Am I believing and living in light of the reality of my justification in Christ (meaning I’m fully, freely, and forever forgiven and loved in him)? Or to say it differently, if in Christ God is now for me and not against me, what does that mean in this situation?
- Am I resting on and trusting in the perfect righteousness of Jesus right now or relying upon my own performance and good works?
- Am I treating others with the kind of grace and forgiveness I have freely and graciously received in Christ?
Questions to help us renew our mind with the truth of reconciliation & adoption:
- Am I relating to God based on reconciliation and adoption—I’m accepted, loved, cared for, provided for, and embraced—or am I relating to God as if I’m estranged from him or that he’s against me?
- In the midst of this trial, temptation, or struggle, how would remembering God’s Fatherly love and care help me trust him and walk with him rather than turning from him or handling it on my own?
- In my relationships and my posture towards others, am I modeling Christ’s peace-making, reconciling love that draws people back together or am I allowing something to maintain division, conflict, and separation?
Questions to help us renew our mind with the truth of regeneration:
- Am I living in light of the truth that God has washed me, made me new, set me free, given me the Holy Spirit, and equipped me with everything I need to change and follow Jesus?
- Do I believe God’s power in me is greater than anything against me, including the temptation, addiction, or trial I’m facing? Or, do I believe God’s power is greater than anything holding me back, such as my past, personality, family history, past suffering, my patterns and habits, or my desires?
- If God has set me free from sin and I now belong to him, how can I and should I live in this situation?
- Am I relying upon and tapping into God’s promises, provision, and power in this temptation or trial I’m facing?
- Am I living with a mindset that my life is not my own and I belong to God, or am I wanting to live life with me at the center (the way I want it, how I want it, when I want it)?
Questions to help us renew our mind with the truth of our identity in Christ:
- Am I living in light of my identity in Christ—including all I have in Christ and all that God is for me—or am I living in my own power and resting on my own performance? Am I living out of identity in Christ or trying to forge my own identity?
- Am I looking to something other than who I am in Christ for security, satisfaction, and significance?
- While I might feel like “If I can’t be, do, or have _____” my life is less complete, how can I root my identity in who I am in Jesus to know that I lack nothing I need for joy, maturity, and fulfillment?
- Because I am in Christ, I should or I can _______.(How does being in Christ shape how I should then live in this situation?)