For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph. 2:8)
The Gospel has two dimensions. There is the vertical reality of all that Christ has done for us in redemption. His grace speaks of the finished work of the cross, reconciliation, forgiveness, acceptance and peace with God.
The horizontal represents man’s response and responsibility in the world in which we live.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:9)
It is important that we recognize both dimensions. Some preachers and teachers are gifted to speak of the vertical realities of God’s love and grace, while others are gifted to inspire believers to fulfill our potential in Christ and have influence in the world. Both messages are important.
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. (Vertical) And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (Horizontal) (1 Jn. 3:16)
Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed (Vertical) and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Horizontal) (Titus 2:14)
As you read through the New Testament, if you have this in mind you will find both dimensions of the gospel repeated over and over.