The Apostle Paul wrote the gospel “to bring about the obedience of the faith for the sake of [Jesus Christ’s] name among the nations (Romans 1:5; 16:26).” Many Christians have a reduced understanding of the gospel message. They see it as a ticket to heaven and little more. While the gospel comes for free to all who repent of their sin and receive both forgiveness from sins and Christ’s righteousness, it nevertheless makes demands on our lives. Those who receive it do not remain stagnant, simply awaiting the city of gold. The gospel takes root in them and begins to produce fruit now.
The Letter to the Romans contains the most exhaustive explanation of the gospel of any single book of the Bible, yet it nevertheless comes to us for practical purposes. By learning what this gospel means in all its multifaceted wonder and glory, it nudges us – sometimes pushes us – into holy living.
The gospel does this in part by restoring our orientation of worship and service to the One you and I were always made to worship and serve. In C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one of the main characters is a young boy named Eustace Scrubb. Eustace gave into an ideology that basically allowed him to serve and worship himself. The world of Narnia affords Eustace the opportunity to have everything he ever wanted. When he gets it, he wakes up as a dragon. As Lewis writes, “Sleeping on a dragon’s hoard with greed, dragonish thoughts in his heart, he had become a dragon himself.” He became what he worshipped.
Our sinful nature pushes us away from God and toward other objects of worship that will never ever suffice. For a time they may seem nice, but eventually they will be exposed for what they are: insufficient. The gospel – through repentance and acceptance of Christ’s forgiveness and righteousness – pushes us away from our sinful idol worship toward the true object of our worship, the One True God.
Once this restoration to true, authentic worship occurs in our lives, we find things we once thought boring or prudish becoming pure delight. We begin to long for the values and ways of the Kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul who wrote the Letter to the Romans proudly called himself a slave of Christ (Romans 1:1). When we make Christ our master, we bow our hearts before his throne and become what we were always meant to be, the best version of ourselves, our glorified selves (Romans 8:30).