“A little more gospel, please, sir.”
That’s what we should say all day, every day. But we don’t.
We sometimes forget that the gospel is not the beginning of the Christian journey, but the sum of the Christian journey.
My tendency—which is one that I observe among other believers, too—is to simplify the gospel to a transactional event where I was gloriously converted from sinner to saint by divine grace through personal faith in the finished, atoning work of Jesus Christ. This is a true account of a portion of the gospel, but it is not the whole of the good news.
An individual’s experience of the gospel begins with the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, but it ends…well, it never ends. That last bit is as much a part of the good news—the gospel—as the original forgiveness of sins. Both are vital to experiencing a joyful Christian life.
We tend to remember the initial transaction and forget our need for a solid dose of the gospel each and every day. Those who know Christ personally have been saved (Eph 2:8-9), are being saved (1 Cor 1:18), and also will be saved (Rom 5:9).
What exactly does that mean?
It is clear from Scripture that the ongoing and future nature of salvation is not dependent upon our works—whether good, mediocre, or bad.
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul makes it clear that our works do not contribute to our salvation (Eph 2:8-9) even though we are called to good works because of our salvation (Eph 2:10). This is why James wrote that “faith without works is dead.” (James 2:14-20) The two authors are not disagreeing, but they are making it clear that the gospel seed planted into our souls when we were saved will produce good fruit if it really took root.
Lest I be accused of commending salvation by works, we should note that this helps explain why Jesus seems particularly concerned with the fruit of religious belief. John records Christ’s teaching on this in the 15th chapter of his Gospel, where Christ explains that the sign of conversion—the evidence of the work of the gospel in the lives of the converted—is bearing good fruit abundantly.
It’s that same passage that reminds us that we need more gospel. Jesus reminds his listeners, “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear the fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:3-4)
We need more gospel. We need to abide in Christ. We need to be transformed by the ongoing renewal of our minds, which occurs through intake of God’s special revelation in Scripture and a continual mindfulness of our dependence upon the gospel.
We are priests and kings in God’s kingdom. Because we have been undeservedly granted that status, we should be willing to stand as beggars before him to plead, “Please sir, may I have some more.”