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The Power of God

Our salvation is not some future hope or promise, it is meant to take hold of us now.
Speaker: Len Finn | September 24, 2017 | Series: Grace Abounding

Watch as Len Finn unpacks Romans 1:16b, and shows us the abounding grace of the Gospel.

The Power of God vs the Power of Me

The Gospel as the power of God for salvation is deeply opposed to the ingrained human belief in the ‘power of me’ for salvation. In fact, the result of the ‘power of me’ is exactly what the ‘power of God’ needs to save me from. Our salvation is not some future hope or promise, it is meant to take hold of us now. 

The Gospel is not the narrative of the world outside. The ‘power of me’ story is the world’s story. It’s promise of salvation looks like whatever is most important to you – success, love, fun, adventure. But the world’s story just isn’t true. Sooner of later you will discover that the power of you has come up against the greater power of reality. 

The False Gospel of the World

The false gospel of the world is the ‘power of you’ and it’s a myth. If you want to see how mythical the ‘power of you’ really is, look at your relationships, addictions, temper and anxiety. 

The false gospel of religion is also all about you. It is the idea that what you do determines your relationship with God. The false gospel of religion is a myth too. 

Everyone Who Believes

Romans 1:16-17 contain one of the tightest, richest most densely-packed expressions of the Apostle Paul thinking about the Gospel. Many people focus on the line from verse 16 “to everyone who believes”. They shift the focus from “The power of God”, which is the proper subject of the sentence, to something that limits, something that marks the boundary of the power of God. 

It is not that the bible doesn’t envision those who are being saved and those who are perishing, and it’s not that believing isn’t important – the point is that we often like to feel superior, or to put our security in something we can control. 

‘Everyone who believes’ can also lead to fear, because we fear we don’t believe enough, or we’re worried about the people in our lives that we love who don’t believe. If you’re worried about not believing enough, join the club. There are days where we all wrestle with doubts and feel like fakes and frauds. But the good news of the true Gospel is that it’s not about the ‘power of you’ for salvation, it’s not about the power of your belief, it’s not about you – it’s about the power of God unto salvation.

If your faith makes you feel superior, or if it gives you your sense of security, than in those moments you aren’t actually believing. You’re trusting in something other than the fullness of the Gospel. 

A Narrow Understanding of Salvation

We tend to have a very narrow understanding of salvation. Paul talks much more about this life in light of the Gospel, than he does about the next life. We don’t have a lot of insights through scripture into what the new creation will look like, but we have a lot of material to work with in the scriptures when looking at what the Christian life lived in light of the Gospel might look like now. For Paul, the Gospel doesn’t just raise you from the dead on the last day, it raises you from the dead on this day, today, now. The Gospel isn’t just the promise of the power of God for salvation in the future, it is the power of salvation now, in each present moment, which is the only time we all ever have. 

A Narrow Understanding of Believing

We tend to have a very narrow understanding of believing. Believing isn’t just mental assent, or a threshold you cross over at one point in your life. Belief in the Gospel is deeper than just a decision. It’s more about trust and faith. 

Think about what your life would look like if you didn’t worry about pride or appearance or fairness anymore. Think about what it would be like if you had thrown these and so much more out the window because of the surpassing goodness of knowing Christ Jesus your Lord. Think about if you really did trust that God has all outcomes in His good hands and that then you could love everyone in your life absolutely selflessly, unthinkingly self-sacrificially. Because you really trusted that the God of the Universe totally loves you and completely has you. What would that look like? It would look like salvation. Salvation to your relationships. Your family. Your life.

Don’t Look to Yourself

But there are many moments in your life where you clearly don’t believe and clearly don’t trust, and that’s why you can’t look to yourself for life-transformative power. You can’t look to the fact that you believe or how much you believe. You have to go to the Gospel, which isn’t concerned with checklists or scoresheets, but instead wants to show you the very heart of God, and overwhelm you with the love you will encounter there. 

Going Back to the Beginning

Martin Luther said that, “A Christian is someone who is always going back to the beginning.” We’re always going back to the Gospel, to the good news that broke your heart when you really got it for the first time and needs to break your heart again and again until your dying breath. 

We go to the Gospel because the Gospel is the power of God for salvation. The Gospel doesn’t just tell you about the power of God, the Gospel is the power of God for salvation and proclaiming and hearing it does stuff to people. The Gospel changes people, it transforms lives. You might be thinking that how can mere words have that kind of power? But words do have power. Words can hurt and words can heal. When you feel gross, despicable and unlovable, the words, “I love you”, will break your heart in all kinds of wonderful ways. Hearing those words when you know you don’t deserve them can make you into a new person. And bring new life to dead relationships. 

The Word of God to You

The Gospel is the power of God for salvation because it is the word of God to you. It is the word of the Almighty God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and every single hair on your head, saying to you ‘I love you’. Not just that your sins are forgiven, but I love you too much to not forgive you. I love you too much to hold a grudge. I love you too much to even think about the things that should come between us. I love you too much to let your failures or your successes get between us. I love you too much to let you get in the way of us. That’s the Gospel – God’s unconditional love for you right now wherever you are. The more broken, desperate and powerless you know yourself to be, the more powerful the word of God’s unstoppable love will be in your life. 

The Invincible Power of His Unstoppable Love

The Gospel doesn’t just tell us that God loves us, in the Gospel you encounter that loving God in person, in Jesus Christ. The power of God is always seen in the context of the jealous, unstoppable love that God has for His people – for Israel, the church, and for you and me. Nothing is going to separate us from Him – even us. The cross shows you the height, depth and width of God’s love. In His wounds, Jesus erased all traces of your guilt, removing everything you have ever done to push God away. That’s not an image of the ‘power of you’ in the world, of you standing strong, making it big, and that’s not an image of the the ‘power of you’ in religion looking at checklists and comparing scores. But this is an image of the power of God, who sets aside His glory for you. Who throws out all the record and scorekeeping books for you. In this He has shown us the invincible power of His unstoppable love for you and me. 

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About the Author

Len Finn
Len serves as a pastoral assistant at St. George’s. He and his wife Stephanie and 2 children live in Alton Village.
  • About the Author

    Len Finn
    Len serves as a pastoral assistant at St. George’s. He and his wife Stephanie and 2 children live in Alton Village.
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