Modeling The Gospel?

Tom: You know, we should really be modeling the Gospel. 

Bob: Like, be more like Jesus?

Tom: Yeah, exactly.  We gotta model Jesus. 

Bob: We are totally on the same page, but modeling Jesus is ‘not’ the Gospel.

Tom: Huh? What do you mean? 

Bob: Well, trying to be like Jesus, our good deeds always end up a bit messed up by sin.  It’s like we can’t hit that perfect righteousness, which leaves us short.  

Tom: So, if we can’t do good works with a pure heart, we don’t need to even try showing Christ’s love? 

Bob: No, way.  I did not say that. That is the voice of your old Adam protesting right now.  

Tom: Well, just to be clear, I am not one of those Christians who is into cheap grace.  Jesus did not die on the cross to give us a license to sin.  

Bob: Again, that is the voice of your old Adam speaking.  Jesus and His cross are not a green light for sin, or else He would be a promoter of sin.  


Bob: Tom, believing that we can do perfect good works or that the Gospel is a license to sin are traps of legalism and lawlessness.  They are ditches of our sinful nature; they are ways that the Old Adam tries to diminish God’s Law and condition God’s Gospel.  They both diminish Jesus.    

Tom: So, what’s your point then? 

Bob: Dear friend, what I’m saying is we should keep doing good works. But always be ready to repent ‘cause even our best efforts are stained by sin.  Still, in life, we can’t stop doing good ‘cause our neighbors always need help.  And we gotta keep repenting because the old Adam needs a good drowning in our baptismal waters again and again.  

Tom: I’m listening…

Bob: Also, when we do good, it’s not for ourselves or to score points with God.  It’s for our neighbor.  And so, let’s never grow tired of doing good, knowing that our imperfect works are constantly cleansed by the Gospel while we also confess about the perfect work and accomplishments of Jesus in our stead.   


Bob: Thirdly, we never stop digging into God’s Law.  We learn His holy will so that we can spot the silly tactics of our old Adam – either when the old Adam makes up fake good works or when our old Adam attempts to twist and taint good works into sin.  Furthermore, as we study the Law of God, we can then recognize when God has graciously prepared good works for us to walk in within our various vocations – in the daily grind.  When this happens, we can be like, “Thank God for letting me serve my neighbor!” 

Tom:  <nodding his head>

Bob: And finally, dear brother, we never stop going back to the source of all good stuff – faith that is rooted in and receiving from Christ and His gifts.   Our daily prayer is, “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me,” for we know that apart from Christ, we can do nothing.  Using John 15 lingo,  we’re branches, always getting pruned, always bearing fruit that comes from the Vine, while we abide in Jesus.  

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