Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What Is the Gospel?

Part 1 of the series The Gospel-Centered Life

You can listen to this sermon here.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:1-4). 

Good News! 

Usually the media focuses on bad news. But sometimes there is news so good that it can’t be ignored.

I’ll give you a date in history and you tell me what was on the covers of newspapers on the following day. May 7, 1945? Germany surrenders in WWII! July 20, 1969? First man on the moon! November 9, 1989? The Berlin wall falls! February 28, 2010? The Canadian men’s hockey team wins the 2010 Olympic gold medal! 

The Greek word for “gospel” (euangelion) means “good news.” The gospel of Jesus Christ is the best good news.

What the Gospel Is 

The gospel is “of first importance” (v. 3). The most important truth we need to understand is the gospel. The basic facts of the gospel are (1) “that Christ died for our sins,” (2) “that he was buried,” and (3) “that he was raised on the third day.” The gospel is the good news about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The gospel could be summed up with three words: problem, solution, and response.

1. The problem was sin. 

Christ died “for our sins” (v. 3). Because God is a holy God, he hates our sin. Because he is a just God, he must punish sin. Unless we understand the problem of our sin, we will not be able to appreciate the gospel. (Unless you know how bad WWII was, you don’t really appreciate how good the news was that it had ended.)

2. The solution was Christ. 

We needed to be rescued (“saved,” v. 2). Christ our Savior took all of our sin—past, present, and future—and died in our place. He now offers us his perfect righteousness. “For our sake [God] made [Christ] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21; cf. Phil. 3:9). 

3. The response is faith. 

Salvation is “received” (v. 1) by faith (“believed,” v. 2). The gospel is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). Salvation is totally the work of God.

The gospel says to us, “You are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, but you are more accepted and loved than you ever dared hope.” J. D. Greear, in his book Gospel, writes, “There is nothing we could ever do that would make God love us more, and nothing we have done that makes Him love us less” (p. 57).

The Gospel Changes Everything

The gospel “shouldn’t be just a ticket to heaven but the core of our entire lives” (J. D. Greear, Gospel, p. 22).  In other words, our lives should be gospel-centered. “The gospel-centered life is one in which everything we do, think, speak, and act out is radically transformed by the grace of God seen through Jesus” (Tim Smith, "What It Means to Live a Gospel-Centered Life?").

We cannot effectively live the Christian life unless we constantly preach to ourselves the gospel. 

The truth of the gospel must move from our minds to our hearts. Our Christianity is often nothing more than “Bible story morality.” God desires more from us than behavior modification; he wants heart transformation. 

If we constantly preach to ourselves the gospel, our hearts will be changed and our obedience will be powered by desire.

The gospel gives us the desire to surrender our lives to God. “The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one had died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:14-15).

The gospel gives us the desire to share the gospel with others. “Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us” (2 Cor. 5:18-19).

The gospel gives us the desire to love others. “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph. 5:2).

The gospel gives us the desire to accept others. “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you” (Rom. 15:7).

The gospel gives us the desire to give. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

The gospel gives us the desire to rid ourselves of self-centeredness. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interest but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:3-8).

The gospel gives us the desire to forgive. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32; cf. Col. 3:13).

The gospel gives us the desire to avoid sexual sin. “Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (1 Cor. 19-20).

The gospel gives husbands the desire to love their wives. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25).

We don’t begin with the gospel and then move on to other things. The good news of Christ’s death and resurrection is for every moment of every day.

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