Jul 16 2017 The Gospel - Part 4 - The Importance of Understanding the Gospel Fully - by Mike Marette
16th July 2017
That Operation Christmas Child video is just a reminder – as the back to school sales start – look for things to be filling the shoeboxes.
August 5 is the picnic – and just a heads-up – we will be playing some games during this time.
Lord, thank You so much for Your love and the opportunity to worship You. Each of us has our own issues – struggles AND encouragements – You are able to meet us as we are – knowing what our needs are. For some, we are overjoyed with what You are doing – for others, it is a struggle – but You are able to meet us in our circumstance and situation – knowing exactly what we need. Whatever is said here, You can adjust to meet each person’s needs.
We have been going over the gospel – and today’s topic is -The Importance of Understanding the Gospel Fully
The seven essential elements of the Gospel:
Eternal existence of the Son – it is important to understand that Jesus is God. It is critical to understand that - He has always been God. He is eternal. He was not just a good person but was God who came to earth to save us.
Incarnation Word became flesh (Descendant of David) – God became human – and along with that – being a descendant of David – what does that have to do with anything? He is the Messiah – the fulfillment of all of God’s promises from Genesis 1:1. 1 Cor. 1 – as many as are the promises of God – in Christ they are YES! It all happened in the person of Jesus.
Died for our sins (Message of the cross) – This is the part that focuses on what happened Friday afternoon on Golgotha.
Jesus was buried – This element of the gospel tends to get buried - no pun intended – but it is important.
Resurrection – When it comes to the New Testament proclamation of the gospel – most of it is focused on the resurrection.
Exalted (Lord of all creation)
Judge of the world – He will come again to judge the world.
As we read through the New Testament – we see all seven of these.
We must understand these fully to understand the gospel – but when we are communicating the gospel with someone – we don’t have to go through 1-7 – every situation requires a personal touch – emphasizing what is important to the people we are talking with – we see this in the New Testament – but in general, these are things we need to understand.
I talked a couple weeks ago about the Elevator Speech – the gospel in under two minutes – what do you say? They ask you a question – tell me about faith in Jesus! We need to have a quick explanation of what it is. There are times for that. But you cannot communicate the gospel on a bumper sticker.
We pulled up behind a guy that had like 3 sentences – typed out or something on his bumper sticker – but you couldn’t read it unless you crashed into him!
“Christians aren’t perfect – just forgiven” – this is a great saying, and some people need to hear that – but it is not a gospel presentation.
Today I am going to look at 3 ways we emphasize certain things to the exclusion of others and how we can balance that.
1 Cor. 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
First – right there in verse 3 - He died for our sins – this is a critical part of the gospel presentation. There is a problem, however, if that becomes the sole focus of our gospel presentation. It is a critical part – but not the sole focus. In a gospel presentation – it is easy to say – you need to admit that you are a sinner and ask Jesus to forgive you.
Christ died for our sins. What is the first word? Christ. That has such a fuller meaning! It is not just anyone who died for our sins. Christ! And as we have said, that is not His last name! Christ! The Messiah – the King – the Lord of all – it is really important to understand WHO died for our sins. He is the Lord of ALL – who died for your sins.
According to the Scriptures… it doesn’t mean there is a verse here or there in the Old Testament that point to that – but from Genesis 1 on teaches that God will become a man and die for us. Beginning in Genesis 1 is a gospel message – the good news – the good story – and the story doesn’t just show up when Jesus shows up. It is understood because of His death and resurrection – but it has been there all along.
If we make forgiveness the sole thing we share… Dallas Willard says it this way – it says to some people that you can have a faith in Christ that brings forgiveness but in every other aspect of your life it makes no difference.
Faith in Christ must make us different - it must do something inside us. Faith in Christ should transform us…
Matthew 18:23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he had begun settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents (This is like millions of dollars) was brought to him. 25 But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt.
28 But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred [z]denarii (like 50 bucks); and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.
This man simply wanted to get out from under the debt – but he had forgotten who had forgiven him – IT WAS THE KING who had forgiven him – who had eyes in all the kingdom – and there is no thankfulness to the king.
There are people who want freedom from guilt. And Christ offers that. But in reality – it is Jesus who offers freedom from the guilt experienced – but in offering that, there must be attached with that the full understanding of the gospel knowing it is the Lord who offers it to us and He wants gratitude for His grace.
Each of these things we over-emphasize should be emphasized – just not to the exclusion of others.
We tend to focus on how someone can get to heaven after they die. It is important to talk about getting into heaven. Here is what is missing in that: When Jesus talked about it – it is at hand, in your midst – it is right in front of you. Instead of talking about how to get into heaven after we die – it has to be about how to get into heaven NOW – transferred into the kingdom of God! On this side – our experience is limited – but when we pass from this world, we experience it fully.
One scholar wrote: “As a result of the death and resurrection of Christ – the kingdom of God has been launched and Jesus is presently ruling the entire cosmos. This determines all current and future reality.”
“The present tense moment of choice in a gospel invitation –so, that point when someone asks, what do I do? That moment should always be understood to be a response to the present tense reality of Jesus’ kingdom rule.
They are giving allegiance to Jesus. Turning from all other gods – whatever that looks like – and placing themselves under the reign of Jesus.
The third overemphasis – (and underemphasis) – is Judgment. Some of us want to avoid that like the plague – Jesus said, don’t judge, so we don’t want to judge – so we don’t want to talk about it – but there is an over emphasis on judgment by some.
I think it can be used improperly – like an emotional scare tactic that stirs up fear and anxiety over fire and brimstone and eternal torture – you stir that up and then come and offer a get out of jail free card. There is a problem with that – it fails to tell the gospel story – because the focus of the gospel is JESUS – and He must consume our gospel story – not getting out of that bad place (number 7 of the seven elements! But it is just a warning – but the focus of the gospel is on Jesus and His death and resurrection.
The gospel story goes something like this – the eternal almighty god loves us so much He became one of us to suffer and die for our sins… He was raised from the dead in fulfillment of all that was written and now He has defeated the powers of evil and darkness.
When Christ died on the cross – all of evil was destroyed – defeated – He lived a life of defeating evil – demons cast out – diseases healed – He is destroying all evil – because the kingdom of God has come and the king has come – and when that happens – evil flees. We only have that partially now. It is incomplete at this time –
He was exalted above every name. He will judge the living and the dead and this good news requires a response of faith and loyalty to the king. That is the story. In those 3-4 sentences – there are things that are assumed – the fall, the redemption – the lordship of Christ – we don’t always get into all that stuff.
[e]that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10 for with the heart a person believes, [f]resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, [g]resulting in salvation.
1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
We communicate this first with a faithful life. We live as if Jesus is the king – enthroned as lord of all. Always be ready – prepared – understanding what you believe. Make a defense – a legal term – a witness – witnesses to what happened – they are not to give an opinion or to talk about themselves – but to speak about what they have seen.’
Gentleness – reverence – respect – like Sue and Dick shared last week – gentleness means strength that accommodates the weakness of others.
Col. 4:5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. 6 Let your speech always be [c]with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.
Speak the gospel – grace – with respect to the person you are talking with.
Some practical suggestions – I have begun over the past year or two to find these helpful. I am learning to tell the gospel through the stories and sayings of Jesus in the Gospels.
There are 4 gospels. Which means it takes a big part of our New Testament – and they are given there so we can communicate them – telling the stories of Jesus as gospel stories – and I think this will have a tremendous impact of how we tell it.
Good Samaritan – what if – if we learned in our world of racism and political animosity – what if we told it in light of these things – as a gospel story that addresses attitudes of religious superiority and political animosity in our world. – And Jesus comes in with the gospel message in the midst of it.
What if – in our sexualized society – what if we told the story of the prostitute anointing Jesus’ feet as a a gospel story - …..
Jesus’ sayings are incredible – why not use them? We just don’t use His words – we need to come up with our own way of doing it.
3 weeks ago I told the story of Mr. WantsToTalk on the airplane – he was an executive producer for a long time at NBC and now the Colorado Film Commissioner – and then that fateful question after him talking for 45 minutes – what do you do? How can I say it? Can I lie? I’m a pastor – and immediately he began apologizing for all the swearing he had just done – happens all the time! I don’t know why they do that – but once we got past that – he starts asking questions – let me ask you about the election? I think, Oh geez… Why couldn’t he have asked what must I do to be saved – that would have been so much easier. In our church, we have people on all sides, and people who don’t like either side – so I don’t say too much about it.
Jesus said – our church is in a neighborhood – and Jesus told us to love our neighbors – so what I talk about is how to love our neighborhood and love our neighbors. Ohhh – that makes a lot of sense! Then he goes on…
I have a hard time with those who supported such and such… - I said – Jesus also said – Love your enemies – Oh – I would have a hard time with that – he replied.
The sayings and stories of Jesus are really powerful.
Lord, we ask You to help us reveal You – speak about You – not about us, church, religion, or Christianity – but about Jesus – who You are and what You did on the cross – and the resurrection, and our forgiveness of sins – that we might offer this good news to the world.