The Wonder of the Gospel

For our third installment of our reflections on revival, I want to reflect on the simple theme of the wonder of the gospel. In our first reflection we discussed prayer. Last week we took on the necessity of repentance from sin toward fellowship with Christ. This week, the wonder of the gospel.

My family went to see the movie Jesus Revolution yesterday during our annual Spring Break week. I am sure there are manifold reviews out there on the merits of the filmmaking, the accuracy of the historical details, and the overall storytelling so I will not prognosticate on those things. I will simply say I am glad we watched this movie as a family (sans one who is in college and on Spring Break with friends). We had good discussions afterward about certain aspects of the film, the balance between sincerity and planning, true revival, and in general it was so good to hear my kids talk about their desire to live fully for Jesus and the pressures to conform to the world within our cultural context in the Triangle. I was very encouraged to hear my kids talk about their heart for their friends who do not know the Lord yet or who are not ready to live fully for Christ yet. I will leave it to you to decide whether to watch this film or not, but it led our family to a really edifying and helpful conversation and now I know how to pray more specifically for my kids and their mission field. 

Jesus Revolution baptisms in pirates cove

All that said, there was a scene in the movie that I may have been allergic to (somehow my eyes got all watery) and it brought me to this reflection. No spoiler because this was a historical movie, but a young man named Greg Laurie got cornered by the Hound of Heaven (the Holy Spirit) and yielded his life to the Lord Jesus. He joined hundreds of other young people at a popular Southern California beach, called Pirate’s Cove, and was baptized. The cinematography got creative and, yes, there was powerful music, and, yes, that all plays on the human heart, but I got really moved not because of those things. I was moved because the basic reality of a life transformed by the gospel became beautiful and powerful to me once again. I often think to myself when I consider individuals meeting Jesus, surrendering to Him, and beginning to follow Jesus: That never gets old. It really never gets old. And, I attribute that to the work of the Spirit in me. And, I think that is one of the key results of a true revival – God’s people return to a fresh vibrancy of the basics of the gospel.

Revival creates a childlike joy at rediscovering the power of the cross, the relief of forgiveness, the anticipation of future glory, and the sweetness of the Savior.

Doctrinal fidelity is essential. Theological accuracy is something I am professionally committed to. Well-run church operations is essential to good discipleship and stewardship. All that stuff is good! But, ALL OF THAT rests on a church full of Christians who really enjoy the Christ of Christianity, who constantly experience thrill at the joy of salvation, who find themselves longing for the world to know what they know – there is a Savior, a Pearl of Great Price, who is worthy of all things. 

My prayer for us is that the Spirit of God would visit us with a fresh sense of the gospel. I pray that we feel compelled to be explicit Christians, even in complex work spaces and a complex culture in the Triangle, who joyfully share the Good News, not out of guilt or pressure, but because seeing just one more person see and savor Christ is just so awesome! It never gets old. It never gets old.

At several parts in the movie, I was reminded of moments in my journey with Jesus. Times I was drawn back to reality by a sermon, or a prophetic moment as a person spoke truth into my life, or as I watched a friend begin to see the reality of the gospel. I may have gotten a bit “allergic” at those scenes, too. And, at one point I prayed – almost out loud – “Lord, thank you for letting me have a front row seat to this very real story as a pastor. How blessed am I?” 

My friend, you can have that front row seat, too. You do not need to be a pastor or vocational gospel worker. You just need to really see, behold, take in, and re-engage the wonder of the gospel. My desire for your holiness, evangelism, theological integrity, and simple joy in Jesus is derive from that wonder. This never gets old. The simple gospel never gets old!

Jay Thomas, Lead Pastor