Inadequate Without Jesus
1 Corinthians 15:1
Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.
“Rather than carelessly assume the gospel, we must aggressively, deliberately, fully and passionately teach and preach the gospel. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. If we do not intentionally search them out, we will miss them.”
– Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., “A Passion for God: Prayers and Meditations on the Book of Romans”
As Christians, we know the gospel. When we met Christ, we believed the gospel—that it is through Jesus that we are saved, adopted by God, and gain total access to this new and wonderful relationship with him. We know this.
And yet, we need to be reminded. I forget who I am and Whose I am on a daily basis. It’s an affliction that author Ann Voskamp calls “chronic soul amnesia”. Can you imagine walking around your city with a case of actual amnesia? With no clue who you are or what your name is? Confusion, chaos, and anxiety would reign.
Is it really so different when we forget our spiritual identity?
The Christian life is often compared to a walk. Some of us may live under the mistaken idea that the gospel is only the first step, losing relevance after the point I accept Christ. This is a grave error!
For the Christian, the gospel is not just the beginning of a spiritual journey. It is the beginning, the middle, and the end. Yes, it is the way we come to know God, but it is also the source of our power to grow spiritually (the “middle”). The Galatian church had some confusion about this, and Paul dished out some hard correction for them:
Galatians 3 : 2-3 NLT
“Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? “
We come to God by the gospel, we are transformed by the gospel during our life here on earth, and one day, when we see Christ face to face, we will experience the culmination: eternity with Him. The gospel is more than just the beginning: it is the entire Christian life. To lose sight of this is to lose our way.
In 1 Corinthians 15:1, Paul reminds his readers of the gospel “which you received and on which you have taken your stand” (emphasis mine). Being reminded of the gospel is what helps us to keep our feet firmly planted there.
One time I needed this reminder was years ago, when I was preparing to teach our women’s cell group. In a fit of anxiety, I reached out to a friend, crying “I feel so inadequate!” Her response was wise: “You are inadequate! But Jesus is more than adequate.” Her words pointed me back to the gospel. In my weakness, Jesus’s strength and sufficiency is a solid ground to stand on. In Christ, I have all the adequacy I need.
Reading this, maybe you’ve been sensing your own case of chronic soul amnesia. Oh, my heart is so with you, friend! My prayer is that you will go to the deep well of the gospel and find refreshment and rest. The good news is still good. So good.
ps: A couple books that I have found to be helpful in cultivating this daily habit of preaching the gospel to myself are as follows: