We’ve all heard that the Gospel will change lives. We’ve heard it shouted from pulpits, whispered in prayers, and spelled out in devotionals. While this is very true, tragically, we’re often left hanging right here. We know that the Gospel changes our lives, but how? The Bible is actually very clear on the evidence that stems from a Gospel-centered life and it’s extremely important that we study these things so that we can know and understand what is (and what is not) evidence of genuine salvation. When we don’t study and learn these things, we’re left with a void that culture is all-too-eager to climb into and warp our views of what this evidence is.
So what does the Bible say about how the Gospel changes our lives?
Continuing on with this series on the Gospel-changed life (See The Gospel-Changed Life: A Love For The Church) another evidence of genuine salvation we see brought out in Scripture is a desire to invest in others.
Paul, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, conveys clearly this desire. “Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind and Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith,”(1 Thess 3:1-2 ESV). Paul was forced to leave this church because of persecution, before he had finished teaching them sound doctrine, and he expresses his desire to return to them to finish teaching them. But because he wasn’t able to at that time personally, he sent Timothy back to “establish” them, that is, to continue teaching them the things of God’s word. Continuing to invest in these people was so important to him, that not only did he send Timothy back to teach them, but he spent a large part of his letter teaching them sound doctrine so that they would be able to understand and even take comfort in their persecution.
Probably the best example we see of investing in others is Christ’s example with his disciples. Many times in scripture we see where Jesus would take his disciples apart from the crowd and invest in them the things of God. Matthew Chapter 13 is one example. After telling the Parable of the Sower to a large crowd of people, Christ takes time with his disciples separately to invest the wisdom behind this parable with them.
We also see from Paul’s life a good example of this desire. Looking through the book of Acts, when Paul would begin ministry in an area, he would stay there as long as he could and invest in people, teaching them sound doctrine and theology until they had a firm grasp of the Gospel and what it means to be a follower of Christ. Paul’s genuine salvation is what caused this desire to invest. Looking again at 1 Thessalonians Chapters 2 and 3, we see Paul pose two questions and and answers for his reasoning to invest in others. First, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.” (1 Thess. 2:19-20 NKJV). Here we see Paul explaining to this church that his reasoning for investing in them is because he desires to see their salvation. Second, “For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?” (1 Thess. 3:9-10 ESV). Here we see Paul posing the question of how can he show thanks to God for saving him, and saving these believers in Thessalonica? By continuing to pray for and invest in them. So why do we invest in others? Because we love God and are thankful for what he has done for us in sending Christ to us. Therefore we share this news with others, and not just share, but take time out of our lives to invest heavily in people, teaching them Gospel-centered, sound doctrine and theology.
A couple of follow-up takeaways that we get from these examples:
The things we desire to invest in others have an eternal, not temporal focus. When we look at the teachings that Christ invested in his apostles, we see a focus on eternal things, such as faith in Him alone, loving each other, living a life that’s God-centered instead of man-centered, and spreading the gospel. These things matter eternally.
We do not see an importance placed on things such as worldly knowledge that promotes comfort and prosperity, or investing in things that encourage compromise with culture. We often have a desire to do this. Such things like encouraging people to pursue formal education, or how to read and do math, or how to speak a second language. Teaching these things are not bad at all, but these things do not have an importance eternally, and if we’re not careful and intentional, will often go against what scripture teaches us is important and to be valued above all else.
So here’s your self-checkup. Do you have that desire to invest yourself in others? Are you taking opportunities to invest the things of eternal importance into those around you?