The Central Role of Love and Gratitude (Gospel Preaching and Sanctification, part 2)
Sometimes the idea, "the gospel sanctifies me," can seem abstract or theoretical. But it is supremely practical. It is relevant. It is about your day to day reality. This session deals with how and why the gospel sanctifies believers at the most basic and easiest level.
Question #3. What is the easiest way to grasp why gospel preaching sanctifies believers?
The easiest way to grasp this is to see that the gospel creates love and gratitude toward God in our hearts, and love and gratitude create holy obedience unto God in our lives.
"Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." (Luke 7:47)
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (John 14:15)
The gospel fills our hearts with love and gratitude because it reminds us of all the great blessings, mercies, and gifts God has given us through the life, death, resurrection, and Spirit of Christ.
The idea is simple. The gospel creates love and gratitude; love and gratitude create holy obedience.
Since we are not naturally prone to love God and be filled with gratitude toward Him, we constantly need God to cultivate these things within us. Love and gratitude are gifts from God; they are the living seed of Christian living that bear the fruit of true and holy obedience unto God.
John 14:15-21; 1 John 5:1-5; Luke 7:47-50.
Discuss or Contemplate
From these verses, what is the relation between love and obedience? Where does love for God come from? Why does God's salvation create gratitude in our hearts? Does God accept outward obedience when the heart does not truly love Him? Why or why not?
Question #4: How does this work on the spiritual level?
It works like this: We look to the exalted Christ by faith, and He transforms us by the work of the Holy Spirit. You will notice in Galatians 3:1-5 that the paradigm for progressing in sanctification is the same as the paradigm for our past regeneration. The paradigm is simple -- we are changed by the Spirit as we behold Jesus by faith in the gospel.
"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified.  Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?  Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?  Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain?  Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith." (Galatians 3:1-5)
Gospel preaching fills us with love and gratitude because it puts before us the living Lord Jesus Christ. But it must be received by faith -- trusting what God has to say and depending on Jesus alone. Faith is necessary.
This is not theoretical, but personal. The gospel is the way God publicly portrays the risen Lord to sinners on earth. Jesus, As we the sinners receive the gospel with true-hearted faith, the Holy Spirit works in our hearts that which is godly. It is precisely through this portrayal of Christ in the gospel that Christ personally and powerfully saves the lost and sanctifies the saved for the glory of God.
Colossians 3:1-3; Hebrews 2:9-11; 12:1-2; Galatians 3:1-6; 2 Corinthians 3:18
Discuss or Contemplate
How does each passage emphasize the importance of looking to Jesus?