Sunday, June 23, 2013

Boasting in the Gospel

Part 8 of the sermon series The Gospel-Centered Life

You can listen to this sermon here.

But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Gal. 6:14). 

I Don't Like to Boast...But I Will Anyway

Nobody likes to hear a person brag, but we often forget that when we feel the urge to boast. One popular form of bragging is the Facebook brag. If you want to feel bad about your life, go on Facebook and see how perfect everyone else’s life is. (Everybody’s kids seem to be geniuses!) Someone has said that Facebook isn’t a depiction of our personal lives—it’s a highlights package.

A more subtle type of bragging is the humblebrag. A humblebrag is a brag that is couched in a phony show of humility. For example, someone with the Twitter name “MaggieQ” tweeted, “I AM featured in People’s “Most Beautiful” (what can I say, they all make mistakes) BUT did the shoot w[ith] no mak[e]up and I have to say…SCARY!”

The Bible discourages boasting. For example, Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”

However, there is one thing every Christian should boast about: the gospel. In Galatians 6:14, the apostle Paul writes, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14). The Greek word for “boast” is kauchaomai. It is found 36 times in the New Testament. In the English Standard Version, kauchaomai is translated as either “boast” or “rejoice.”

Saved by the Cross 

Because of our sin, we need salvation. The New Testament gives us four images of salvation: 1) propitiation (the need to have God’s wrath appeased), (2) redemption (the need to be rescued from sin’s captivity), (3) justification (the need to be declared righteous), and (4) reconciliation (the need to be brought back to God).

In his love, God achieved salvation for us by the blood of Christ. “Whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:25). “In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood” (Eph. 1:7). “We have now been justified by his blood” (Rom. 5:9). “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near [i.e., reconciled] by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).

The gospel is the good news that the cross has made salvation possible. 

Pour Contempt on All My Pride

Who invented the internet? Sometimes (former U.S. Vice President) Al Gore gets credit for inventing the internet. (I know of some people who refer to the internet as the “Al Gore.”) Gore never actually said he invented the internet. But he did say, “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the internet.”

Like Al Gore shouldn’t get credit for inventing the internet, Christians shouldn’t get credit for being saved. We contributed nothing to our salvation. “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9; cf. Rom. 3:27; 1 Cor. 1:29-31). “If righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for nothing” (Gal. 2:21).

The cross shows us that we cannot boast in ourselves, but only in God's grace. 

Prior to his conversion, Paul had boasted in his religious accomplishments. “You have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers” (Gal. 1:13-14; cf. Phil. 3:5-6). But after he was saved, Paul said, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

Powered by the Gospel

Our lives need to be gospel-centered. We cannot effectively live the Christian life unless we constantly preach to ourselves the gospel.

The gospel is the best good news. Boasting in the gospel powers our obedience with desire.

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