For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile . – Romans 1:16 (NIV) In Part 2, we talk about the role of the gospel in recovery. In Part 1, we discussed redemption and how knowing we’ve been bought or redeemed by God creates security and motivation and that changes us.
Today, we will discuss the power found in the gospel and how that helps us.
Paul tells us in Romans 1 that the gospel (the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus) is THE power of God. Let’s look at this ‘power of God’ in light of the various struggles we have:
The word power is found 335 times in the Scriptures and is often associated with how God wants to help his people. In the New Testament, it is often associated with the gospel and the power to change. We see in Romans that our lack of power prompted Jesus to take action. Our powerlessness is in stark contrast to God’s power, expressed in His kindness in offering Jesus on the cross. Check this out.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly . – Romans 5:6
So the power to change is not all about me (although I am responsible to engage the process, to learn, and to eagerly seek change). Change in my life is primarily due to God’s heart for me, expressed in the gospel while we were powerless.
So how do we “access” this power? How do I connect power found at the cross of Jesus to my particular situation? As always, the scriptures hold the answer for us.
1) The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is at work inside of our hearts . God has provided an internal powerhouse to change – His Spirit, and we each have Him living in us. Sometimes we are afraid to speak of the Spirit of God. The Spirit is one of the Three, and He’s not in third place! He is God living in your heart (Romans 8:11). Realize this power in you, pray to Him, ask Him to help you, and invite Him into the deepest parts of your recovery journey. Here’s an article on power in the Christian’s life.
For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. – I Thessalonians 1:4-5
2) The gospel humbles us, softens our hearts, gives us courage, and convinces us of our connection with our Lord and in that “weakness,” we find power. Often in our quest for recovery, we can get caught up in all sorts of issues that take us away from God. Guilt, shame, family history, others not understanding us, our own history of failure, and the like.
For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. – 2 Corinthians 13:4
But there is a great “leveling out” at the foot of the cross. All of our pride, discouragement, shame, guilt, and the myriad of other issues melt at the cross. Jesus just has a way of drawing us to Him at the cross. Our hearts change, they soften, and we find ourselves in a better place, simply by being at the foot of the cross.
This is why God commands us to take communion every week. He knows our tendency to drift away from the foot of the cross and get caught up with other things. Paul said it best in I Corinthians 15:3-4:
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures .
Make the gospel message your priority in life. Keep it at the center of your heart, at the top of your mind, and as the power of change that God promised.
3) Gaze at the cross. This has been the number one most helpful activity for me recently as I work on change. Look at the cross. Plain and Simple. Ponder the cross. In the middle of a struggle, consider the cross.
When you hit a wall in recovery, take time to gaze at the beauty of the cross. What does the cross say about you and your recovery issue? What “statements” are made by Jesus and the gospel in your specific area of change? There is great power in looking, meditating, pondering, considering, and gazing at the cross. Plain and Simple.
Don’t believe me? Try it this week. Whenever you find yourself stuck, confused, discouraged, or ready to give up your recovery journey, gaze at the cross. Just look and keep looking. You’ll find power! Setting Captives Free is a great place to see this concept at work.