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Stage 3

A Lifestyle Gospel

"...because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake" 1 Thessalonians 1:5.

The Gospel is not just about words. It is not just about activities. It is about lifestyle.

When our lives match our words, the power of the Gospel is displayed to everyone.

The Word Become Flesh

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" John 1:14.

Jesus is the image of God (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3), but we would never have known what God was like unless He became flesh - a human being we could see, hear and touch.

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life" 1 John 1:1 (read also verse 2).

God's goal is that His Word become flesh in us too. This means His Word is translated into the reality of our lives, our words, our actions. This is the way He will show His glory to the world.

"You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts" 2 Corinthians 3:3.

A Living Witness

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" Acts 1:8 (see also Luke 21:12-13).

The bottom line of all Christian ministry - no matter who we are - is being a witness to the grace of God. In a court of law, only first-hand testimony is valid. In the same way, the Christian life is a first-hand eye-witness experience. Being an eye-witness involves three things:

The early disciples were eye-witnesses of Jesus (1 John 1:2). But so are we, for the same Holy Spirit who anointed Jesus is living in us (Acts 5:32; 1 John 5:6-11). These three elements of our witness - what we experience and see; what we speak and what we live - can be seen in the life of the end-time believers:

"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death" Revelation 12:11.

The Pattern of Life

"Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you" Philippians 3:17.

The Bible provides us with a pattern of living. We are no longer to be conformed to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2), but to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus (Romans 8:29). Jesus Himself is the model of this new life (John 13:15; 1 Corinthians 11:1).

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you" Philippians 4:9 (see also 1 Thessalonians 4:1; Ephesians 5:8-10).

This pattern of life is described in the Old Testament as having a profound impact on the lives of those around us:

"Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land" Isaiah 32:2 (see also 35:5-8).

Outside of Christ, many lives are dry and parched (Psalm 63:1). Our lives can become a channel for the living water of God's presence to turn the desert into pools of water (Psalm 107:35-36).

"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him" John 7:38 (see also Psalm 84:6; Isaiah 41:18-20.).

The Aroma of Christ

"For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?" 2 Corinthians 2:15.

God wants our lives to be so much filled with the presence of Christ that we give off the aroma of Christ. This will have two different reactions on two different kinds of people:

The Fragrance of Life

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" Ephesians 5:1-2.

The Old Testament talks about sacrifices which were a pleasing aroma to God (Numbers 28:2,6). When we offer our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:2), our lives become a pleasing aroma to God and to others.

The Stench of Death

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" 1 Corinthians 1:18 (see also verses 21-29).

But not all find the message of the Cross fragrant. Those who oppose the Gospel consider it to be the stench of death - a displeasing smell. In fact, the Bible talks about "the offense of the cross" (Galatians 5:11). This will often attract a sharp reaction from unbelievers (2 Timothy 3:12-13; John 15:18-19; 1 John 3:13).

As we walk with the Lord, the Holy Spirit works to conform us to the likeness of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18; Titus 2:11-12; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). Jesus is the Gospel become flesh. God doesn't just want us to tell people about the Gospel. He wants us to be the Gospel to them, just like Jesus was.

"Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did" 1 John 2:6.

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Copyright 1981,1996 Paul, Bunty and David Collins. All rights reserved. This study may be freely used and reproduced, wholly or in part, by the Christian Church for the non-profit purposes of study and training only, provided copyright and contact information is included.

Unless otherwise stated, all scriptures quoted in these studies are from the New International Version of the Bible New York International Bible Society, used by permission. Other versions referred to are: KJV (King James Version), NKJB (New King James Bible), TLB (The Living Bible), Amp (The Amplified Bible) and The Message. All versions used by permission.

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