Christ who is the content of the gospel leaves no one in a neutral state.[1]

—Herman Bavinck

The one thing the gospel never does is nothing. Under the preaching of the gospel, no one remains the same. We are either moving closer to God or further from him. No one remains neutral. No one remains unchanged. We soften, or we harden.

Encountering Jesus is a life-altering event every time it happens. His word is always fresh. Even if we believe we know it, because he is God, his word is not returning void. Every time it is spoken, something happens. We fall in love with him, or we grow to despise him. We lean in, or we turn away. In every church meeting every Sunday morning, there is a massive movement in the hearts of people all over the world because of the gospel of Christ. Because Christ is the gospel, when we hear his word, we hear him, and when we hear him, we either fall down before him, or we run the other way. The one thing we don’t do is nothing.

It’s not always easy to perceive this movement. Perhaps we notice the leaning in more than the turning away. Yes, we can sprint in the other direction, but that’s not how it works for most of us. It’s more like drifting away at sea. The waves of doubt take us out. The depths of sin call us away. We move inch by inch, and we don’t see it until we’re further than we ever imagined we’d be.

Just as we can drift away, we can also inch closer. When Jesus melts our heart again and again, when his gospel surprises us with its grace and mercy, when we feel his love, and keep letting his love come into our heart, we step closer to him.

The one thing the gospel never does is nothing. No one remains in a neutral state.

God is in control of all things. He is sovereign. But he does ask us to believe him. Our only part in the gospel is our response to it. We either accept it or deny it. We either open our arms or cross them. We run toward or away. But we cannot stand motionless.

The good news of the gospel, of course, is that even if we jump a ship to Tarsus like our old friend Jonah, and even if a great fish swallows us up after we are thrown overboard, there is still hope. God still hears our cries in the deep, dark places of the stormiest sea. The gospel never does nothing, and because of that, there is always hope of redemption, even as there is always the danger of drifting away.

As long as Jesus is on this throne, as long as the Spirit blows like the wind wherever it will, as long as God is still a Father, there is hope. As we continually expose ourself to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and as we just open our empty hands before him, we can trust that he will do his work. He will not leave us as we are. He will increase our joy. He will soften our sorrows. He will heal our wounds. He will, if he must, even cause the fish to get sick and spit us upon his shores to witness his redemption.

God works in ways we can’t understand. The one thing we can be sure of, always, is that he works. He never does nothing. That’s good news.

[1] Herman Bavinck, The Wonderful Works of God: Instruction on the Christian Religion according to the Reformed Confession(Glenside, PA: Westminster Seminary Press, 2019), 399.

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