Aug 7 2022 What IS the gospel?
7th August 2022
We have a nice summary of the gospel in these 3 verses – one thing that is not – being the descendant of David speaks of the incarnation – and we will see that in other sections of gospel presentation
Acts 13: 29 "When they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb. 30 "But God raised Him from the dead; 31 and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem,
We have His incarnation – Death on the cross – burial – and the resurrection – and his appearance.
We see this in other gospel presentations – how often do you speak of His appearance when you share the gospel – and for them, it was evidence and proof.
5 main events – and one is missing. There are six – and they don’t always use all of them – but in the general sense – these things run through the New Testament as the gospel is spoken.
In the next part – Paul will focus on the resurrection – the primary focus.
34 "As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead (resurrection), no longer to return to decay…
Paul introduces another word DECAY – how often do you use DECAY in your gospel presentation?
35 "Therefore He also says in another Psalm, 'YOU WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.' 36 "For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; 37 but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. 38 "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,
4 mentions of resurrection – 4 mentions of decay
What does it all mean? The resurrection that Paul is talking about is both physical and spiritual. It is a BODILY resurrection.
We know He appeared – we know He was raised – but they also saw a PHYSICAL body. They touched Him. They went fishing with Him!
Our language – you go to heaven after you die – the way that language is understood with all of our concepts of heaven – with lights shining and harps and clouds – over-emphasizes the spiritual and downplays the physical. That is just not in the Bible. The Bible speaks of a physical resurrection – these bodies will be changed – but we will still be living in these bodies! Why is that important?
There are hints in the gospels, through the life of Jesus, what our resurrected bodies will be like. When Jesus heals people of diseases – blind people, deaf, all the different diseases, He is making these people whole in their bodies. When He casts out demons, He is making people whole. When He cleanses lepers – He is making them whole. Forgiving – making whole.
A physical resurrection brings wholeness to people – which is a big part of the hope of the resurrection. We all know we are a mess – physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally a mess! We are looking forward – not to floating on a cloud – but to be whole and restored – think of the problems you have – gone forever!
There are maybe 10 gospel summaries in the New Testament. I’ll look at 3-4. This one is maybe the most familiar in that it was in the topical memory system:
1 Cor. 15: Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you… 3 For I passed on 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.
What phrase did I purposefully leave out? According to the scriptures. There is a story behind these points – they are all a fulfillment of all that God has said and promised from the entire Old Testament. It is all according to the scriptures. What Paul mentions are the main events of Christ’s life. All of them are according to the scriptures. Another summary:
Romans 1: Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,
The Old Testament all leads to this.
Phil 2: Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Why is the incarnation so important? TO save humanity, God had to become human.
This was God’s plan forever. His plan went far beyond this universe and these people He could love. His plan, Romans tells us, was to become one of His creation from the very start.
Hebrews – and why that is so important – and so important as we share Jesus with people – He became one of us – He was tempted, He died – so He gets us! He understands everything that a human goes through – He can sympathize with us, having been tempted in every way as us.
He shared flesh and blood – as we do – therefore, He is not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters.
That is a little odd, if we think about it. We are God’s children – of course. When Jesus rose from the dead, God’s relationship with humanity changed forever, entirely.
We don’t just go back to the Adam and Eve in the garden situation – but a NEW CREATION. We are now brothers and sisters of Christ. This is a mystery we will never understand.
John said – we don’t know what we will be like in the resurrection – but we will be like Him! That guy that appeared to the disciples after the resurrection? That is what we will be like. It is a mystery. And an amazing blessing.
Philippians continues -
9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The sixth point – The Ascension – God exalted Him.
Liturgical churches celebrate the Ascension. It is His enthronement. Because of the ascension, Jesus reigns as king and lord. When Queen Elizabeth dies – there will be a coronation of a king.
Ephesians describes why this is important to our understanding.
Ephesians 1: 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
Daniel 7 is referenced here.
In Christ’s death and resurrection, the victory over darkness, evil and sin was won. He not only forgave us of our sins, but conquered sin. That is realized in the Ascension. That is when everything was put under His feet. Yes, we live in this already and not yet – But 1 Cor. 15 goes into depth regarding how this is put under Jesus’ feet.
One more verse:
Revelation 3:21 'He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
I think this is saying – in Heaven – He is reigning and we will reign with Him – forever – over the new creation. We will create with Him. We will be stewards of all things. We will govern with Him. This is a compelling future. Sitting on crowds is not compelling. Reigning over all creation with Jesus – that is something that will compel people – why would anyone NOT want that?
With all of this – what does someone need to know to be saved?
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved. When we say – believe on the Lord Jesus Christ – is saying all we have said over the past several weeks. The entire Old Testament is fulfilled in these three words – Lord, Jesus, Messiah.
For our witness to be most effective, we must learn to tell this story in a way that is appropriate – understanding the person we are talking to and what they need – and telling it in a way that is compelling.
SO, in the book of Acts -those who were there – life was hard. It was physically difficult. They worked hard just to survive. They did not have 8-hour workdays. They had all kinds of issues with disease – hunger, poverty, disability. It was a difficult life. When the disciples came preaching a bodily resurrection – you will be made whole.
Our world is a little different. As we get older – our physical bodies fall apart. But many of us live very comfortably.
We had a Cuyahoga Falls ministry meeting – there was a guy who started a counseling practice – as he was talking, he was talking about how the counseling industry was exploding with growth. If you try to get a counselor – it takes time.
All of the brokenness, woundedness, emotional, spiritual brokenness - #1 clients are Gen Z! 25 on down! Lots of high school kids. There are so many issues that we face – image, identity, depression, anxiety – we could go on and on – and the resurrection tells us of a body, mind, and soul that can be and will be made whole. All of those things that are – the people in this country have massive problems with – the gospel presents a way to become whole. And obviously, complete wholeness won’t take place until heaven. I am making progress in my struggles, but they are still there.
BUT – we can begin to experience PEACE – the gospel of Shalom – complete wellbeing and wholeness – security – wellbeing – imagine just having that forever?! A complete sense that all is well and no worries at all!
That is what we offer! So there is not a formula or script. SO much must be connected to the needs of the person you are talking to.
Like Paul at Mars Hill – I see you are very religious (you’ve got all these idols!) – but let me tell you what to worship! To do this – this story must capture our minds and hearts – this needs to be the thing that overwhelms us and comes out of our mouths and we talk about the most.
We can’t allow another story or worldview to take precedence over the story of Jesus – first and primary over everything!
Other stories have become first!
One thing we all have a hard time with? We cannot merge any other narrative. Scot McKnight: “Individualism, consumerism, nationalism, moral-relativism, new age, postmodern tribalism – and therapy”
My own words – the story of Personal Morality – we merge with the story of the gospel. That is the older brother in the prodigal son story – He thought God was on his side because he lived right – but he was wrong.
Religious piety – pharisees – spiritual superiority – “we worship right”
The story of self-help and success – like TED talks.
Or better yet – the 12-step programs. These come from Christian principles, but they are not the gospel. They have a place, but they are not to be merged in with the gospel.
“The story of your favorite ideology” – Social, cultural, political, economic, or conspiracy theory! None of that is to be merged in with the gospel. The gospel is about those 6 things – incarnation, death, resurrection, appearance, ascension, reigning as king.
“The story of religious experience” – Like, how it happens matters – years ago – you had to have an altar call – or say a prayer – or ask Jesus into your heart – or to have a certain spiritual experience – or to be baptized in a certain way.
What must I do to be saved? Believe in Jesus! Ok!
The Ethiopian eunuch – what does this mean? What prevents me from being baptized?
Each story is different – but what must happen – believing in Jesus – the Messiah – and you shall be saved.