“…and believe in the gospel.”
The heart of the gospel is believing. The world is filled with messages about the power of believing; “Believe in yourself.” , “Believe in your dreams.” , “Believe you can do anything.” These are familiar mantras for a secular world. The only problem is they are all centered on the almighty self. In a world that has relegated God to the outer edges of life, at best, and into oblivion, at worst, everything centers on you. You become fully responsible for your destiny. You must chart your own course, follow your own road, they say. You can become whatever you want. You can find true happiness by simply believing in yourself, they say. One glance at the addiction rate among the self-made in society should cure that delusion. But Jesus calls us in a completely different direction. He bids us forsake the almighty self with all its self-exalting, self gratifying hype, and place our trust in someone and something infinitely greater. He calls us to “repent and believe in the gospel.”
One of the most common arguments I hear from those who resist salvation is, “I don’t think I can do it.” likewise, one of the most delusional responses I have heard from those who preach salvation is, “Yes you can.” Jesus does not call us to believe we can make ourselves fit for his kingdom. The gospel, i.e. the good news, is that God has done for you what you could never accomplish for yourself. You cannot come to Christ believing in yourself or in your ability to make it work. As long as there is one stitch of self-reliance involved you will never really come to Jesus Christ. The very nature of faith is that you place all your trust in Christ, and Him alone. If there was anything you could do to make yourself good enough for God, then He certainly would never have allowed His Son to die in your place on the cross. The cross is where your salvation was won forever. Your sins were paid for in full. Your diseases were healed. Your life was reconciled to God. Your power to live the new life rests in Christ, not in you. If you are still trying to make it to heaven you have not yet begun the journey. Every other religion on the earth feeds into the worship of the almighty self. They all feed into the “You can do it.” delusion. Only the gospel of Jesus has the nerve to go against the self-promotion of this world. Only Jesus says you must believe beyond yourself. You must believe entirely in what Christ has done for you on the cross. Anything less is just religion: Trying to appease a deity with human tricks. Jesus calls you out of your religious tricks and into a life of faith, working through love. If you think you cannot make it to heaven, then you are in a perfect place to receive salvation. Repent of your self reliance, your self- determination, your self- indulgence, and your self-pity. Trust in Christ alone to save you. Then watch your world begin to change.