The question, “What will change in my life first if I accept the gospel?”, implies something important: the need for change. If there is a need for change that means there is something wrong with me that needs fixing. We all admit that we are not perfect and probably could fix many things about our lives. However, usually we don’t really believe or admit to the fact that we NEED change. The Gospel does.
The first fundamental change that happens when we come to trust in Christ and his work is that we are forgiven. The Bible presents the fact that there really is someone behind this amazing world, and that he is much more intelligent and powerful than the strongest and mightiest of his creatures (Acts 17:24-25). God owns this universe and he has very good reasons for its existence.
The greatest act of rebellion against him, would therefore be to try to dismiss any reasons that he might have for life and existence, and seek to establish your own. This is also the mindset that permeates the vast majority of our lives. We want to live as though he has no power, no rules, no purpose, no authority. Submerging ourselves into this mentality we attempt to, at best, reduce God down to an insignificant philosophical idea. But is he?
Both the Bible and reason scream “NO!”. The splendor and complexity of the universe demands magnificence and power that defies our imagination. What makes us think that we can reduce him down to a formless, impersonal force that has no bearing on our lives? Is it not merely our own prideful heart?
Thus, we are guilty. To add to this, the gigantic nature of our guilt is multiplied when we consider the supreme nature of the One against whom we have sinned. Our debt against him exceeds anything we can ever pay back with any righteous activity. Moreover we do not even have the resources to even begin to pay him back. If he is a just and righteous God, we deserve nothing but punishment.
Damning, helpless guilt defines the condition of the human heart before a holy God. The conscience (our God-given internal warning system) of every person points them to the fact that they do indeed do wrong, and someday will have to answer to God about it. There are those who consider themselves free from quilt simply because they have learned to suppress their conscience. This is no better than thinking that nothing can hurt you just because you have been paralyzed and lost all sensation in your body. Ignoring guilt doesn’t make it less real. We are guilty wether we feel it or not.
Yet in Christ, God comes down into humanity and takes that burden of guilt upon himself. On the cross, Christ took the wrath of God that was intended for us; he experienced rejection, humiliation and alienation from the One who was most dear and precious to him.
Anyone who seriously takes the time to understand the implications of the work of Christ on the cross and puts their trust in that work, and turns from their rebellious mind is freed from guilt. Since Christ took our guilt, we get his righteousness.
How does this change my life? Profoundly.
I know I am forgiven. I know the condition of my relationship with God is based, not on the amount of good works that I can crank out but on the work of Christ on the cross. I am free from guilt and fear and I know I will never have to stand before God as judge. I do not live to balance out the number of good things in my life with the number of bad things.
My life is no longer focused on the amount of good things I can do. Rather it is lived in a constant, awesome growth in the vast implications of learning to follow Christ, all the while remembering my complete dependance on him and that vast debt that he has so graciously forgiven me.