Exploring the Bible
PO Box 105 Lismore,
NSW 2480, Australia
The greatest writer on the subject of the Gospel, the Apostle Paul, spoke of it like this: ‘The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes’ (Romans 1v16). If your experience of the Gospel is one that is heavy, burdensome, worrying, doubtful, uncertain, fearful, or distressing, perhaps you have misread the above verse. Perhaps, in your mind, your perception of the Gospel is one that reads Romans 1v16 like this: ‘The Gospel is the power of me for salvation’. Perhaps you think, in one way or another, that you have to do this; that you have to get yourself there, that it’s about your power, and your strength, and your exertion, and that you're the worker, and that your efforts in trying harder is what will get you saved or not. But if that is the Gospel, you could not call it Gospel! That is terribly heavy and burdensome and totally unrelated to anything you could call ‘good news’. The beauty of the good news is it is not the power of me for salvation, but the power of God for salvation. This verse is staring the world straight in the face, and proclaims emphatically the good news that salvation is not mankind’s job! People’s salvation is a job God takes entirely to Himself.
The word ‘power’ is often translated ‘miracle’ or ‘mighty work’ — who of us has the power to perform miracles? Salvation is a miracle God will perform entirely by His power, His energy, His strength, His wisdom, His exertion. For this reason it would be ridiculous for people to crumble under the weight of responsibility to perform the miracle of salvation, which God has not asked them to perform, nor is it possible for them to perform anyway. God has not, and never will, give you that job. This is the message of good news — a God who works to save people!
God does not first ask people to work, He first asks people to believe: ‘The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes’. What are we called to believe in? The power of God for salvation! God calls upon you and me to believe in a power that is not in us, but outside of us; to look away from ourselves to the power of another person, and believe in that. God does not ask us to perform miracles, He asks us to believe in His miracles - in this case, His miracle to save you. He never asks you to perform that miracle. Therefore, ‘believing’ is not an action. It will certainly result in action, but in itself it is not an action. Believing is expressed in the Bible in many different and beautiful ways which all essentially mean the same thing — relying. It’s expressed as ‘calling upon God’ (Psalm 50v15); as ‘trusting in the LORD’ (Psalm 32v10); as ‘leaning upon God’ (Isaiah 10v20); as ‘looking to God’ (Isaiah 45v22); as ‘relying on God’ (Isaiah 50v10); as ‘submitting to God’ (Romans 10v3); as ‘calling on the name of the Lord’ (Romans 10v13).
All of these things are what God calls us to do towards His power for salvation! The day of belief is the day when you can look at yourself, and deep within yourself, and discover, “I don't have any power. None! I can’t do it”. The day of belief is the day when you’re being swept out to sea whilst trying to save yourself with your energy, with your exertion, with your power, using all your mental will-power and strength, and you realise with great horror, “I can’t do it. I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die,” and then you turn from believing in your power, to belief in the power of another! That’s the day of belief! When you turn from reliance on your weak and exhausted arms to reliance on the strong right arm of another to pull you out. ‘Calling on the name of the Lord’ to save you is the day of belief and the day of deliverance! ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me’ (Psalm 50v15) ! It may take years to get to this point. It may take many years to give up on trying to achieve your own salvation and call upon God in a way that says ‘Help me, my God! Save me, my God! I trust you to do what I cannot. My sins I submit to your power to forgive. My weakness I submit to your power to strengthen. My growth I submit to your power to transform. My death I submit to your power to resurrect. Fill me with the certainty of your right arm. Fill me with the joy of your salvation.’
The man who God sent to the world to be its salvation was created by the power of God. Salvation exists because the power of God made the Saviour Jesus. My power is not involved in salvation as much as it wasn't involved in making Jesus. Jesus is the salvation, and God made Him! ‘The Angel answered Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore also the holy child which will be born of you will be called The Son of God”’ (Luke 1v35); ‘And you will call his name JESUS, for he will save his people from their sins’ (Matthew 1v21); ‘And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mankind by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4v12)!
‘The Gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes’ (Romans 1v16). The remarkable apostle Paul wrote of himself, ‘All my labour and toil, I do by all His energy which he energises within me powerfully’ (Colossians 1v29); In another place it is written of God's power to save, ‘You are being guarded by God’s power through faith, for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice!’ (1 Peter 1v5)
It is God’s own power that performs everything we need the most — saving, energising, and guarding till the end! The true God is a ‘God of comfort’ (2 Corinthians 1v3) and a ‘God of love and peace’ (2 Corinthians 13v11) to those who trust and rely on Him. May our burdens, worries and fears be lifted. ‘Look to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am 'Power' (Hebrew meaning for God here) and there is no other’ (Isaiah 45v22).
Let us not crumble under the weight of a burden that does not exist — namely, the burden of having to save ourselves by our own power. Let that burden be lifted by the Gospel of Jesus the Son of God. In whatever situation you are in at this present moment, look to and embrace the power of God in Jesus. If you're burdened by sin, if you’re burdened by failure, if you're burdened by worry and doubt about salvation, please realise it was never intended to be about your power, but about God’s power. May we all realise that the things we need most in life cannot be performed by our own power and was never intended to be, but that everything we need most in life is performed by God!
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Exploring the Bible
PO Box 105 Lismore,
NSW 2480, Australia
For voicemail - 02 6621 9165