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If someone were to ask you, what is the gospel? How fast would you be able to answer them?
Maybe you could stumble upon an answer, but could you answer in a way that was simple and memorable?
At dinner I’ve been teaching my kids how to memorize the gospel, so you can pop quiz any of them next time they are in here.
The reason I’m sharing this message with you is first and foremost, because I need it, and this is good for my soul, and I know it will be good for you too.
I hope this edifies and encourages you all.
I’m going to share the gospel three times with you before this message is over so you can memorize it if you haven’t already.
- God made the world good.
- We have all broken God’s laws and the punishment for our crime is eternal death.
- God loved us so much that without ceasing to be God he became the man Jesus Christ and died in our place and rose again.
- All who turn and trust in Him alone will live forever with him.
As Christians, sharing the gospel is of utmost importance. Yet tragically, we’re not awesome at sharing it.
Maybe I’m just speaking from personal experience, but I’ve been a Christian now for 30 years or so and I feel like I’m still beginning to grasp the power of the gospel.
Part of the reason for this is of course that there is always room for us to mature. We never stop learning and growing as Christians.
However, I think part of the reason why it has taken me so long to be able to articulate and share the gospel is, tragically, because our Christian culture doesn’t even know what it is.
It reminds me of the interviews people like Jimmy Kimmel will do where they ask people to name the title of one book. Just one book. And they can’t do it.
I wonder what would happen if we were to do something similar with asking people in the Church what the gospel is.
And even when we learn what the gospel is by definition, we still don’t understand it’s absolutely unmatched power, in both saving and changing the world around us.
The gospel is incredibly unbelievable too, so we think that we have to find ways to persuade people to believe, but the gospel itself is the power of God to cause us to believe.
Our duty is to share it, It’s God’s part to open eyes to believe it.
That takes a lot of pressure off.
Another reason we don’t share is that we almost see the gospel as something we learn once, maybe in Sunday school, then we assume everyone knows it, and then move on to find deeper, more interesting things. That’s a tragedy.
The gospel is the answer for my financial need. The gospel is the answer for my daughter’s sickness. The gospel is the answer for the world’s demands for justice.
As our world shifts and changes and different needs come and go, the gospel has always been the answer and nothing is going to change that.
Because the gospel isn’t one of the trees in the forest. It’s the whole forest.
What I’d like to do this morning, is first, to define the gospel, and then share why the gospel is the very power of God, and why it is the answer, not just for salvation, but for everything else we could possibly need or want.
In Romans 1:16 God’s Word through the Apostle Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes...”
It is the power of God! Let that sink in for just a moment.
What is God’s power for the saving of lives, the changing of hearts, from being dead in sin to being born again, from being transformed from a creature headed toward death into a new creation?
It’s the gospel!
God’s Word again in 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the word of the cross…”
What is the word of the cross? It’s the gospel message!
“… is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
So, if there is anyone saved, or being saved, they are being saved by the gospel.
Again in Romans 10:17 God’s Word says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
In other words, faith, which we know is how a person is saved, (Ephesians 2:8) comes from nothing else but the gospel, either spoken and heard or read from the word of Christ.
And how many of us need stronger faith?
If faith comes from the Gospel, we ought to be a bit more serious about sharing it.
Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim… what?
the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey?”
No, I’m joking, and poking fun at myself because I just did a lunch and learn on that. Good stuff. Not the gospel.
Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim 10 reasons not to give up on your dream?”
How about…. “Practical solutions to the world’s problems?”
Those are all good things. In fact I’ve spoken about, and benefited from those kinds of things.
But just like building a house is a necessary and wonderful work, that you can see with your eyes, and seems to provide so much good– building a house doesn’t save lives, doesn’t strengthen our souls, and it doesn’t spiritually change the world.
Building a house, is spiritually empty.
A house is a good thing. A needed thing.
I can hear people reasoning, well if you didn’t have a house you couldn’t share the gospel. Well, actually Jesus didn’t have a house, but besides that I’d argue that without the good news of the gospel, there would be no houses, because we’d all be dead. The world would have ended with Adam and Eve.
So no, Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
That’s the only thing we’re called to proclaim.
In ministry, we sometimes only touch on a piece of the gospel, and that’s okay.
Sometimes we just talk about how there is a God and he is good, or that we should have faith.
I’m really excited on the days when our devotionals cover the whole gospel in a few sentences. In fact, we encourage our writers in this way.
But the gospel is a very specific message.
We often confuse it with other things.
Someone once said, “preach the gospel at all times and use words if necessary.”
But folks if we’re not using words, we’re not preaching the gospel.
The gospel is good news, not good works or deeds, or good sentiments, or good behavior, or good will, it’s not all our love and our actions. It’s a message.
This is the gospel. We all need it again and again. Remember it’s the power of God:
- God created the world good.
- We have all gone astray and are guilty of crimes against our creator. The punishment for these crimes is eternal death.
- So God came to the world, without ceasing to be God became the man Jesus Christ, and laid his life down on a cross (to both bring justice for sin and also be the justifier of his people [Romans 3:26]), He then rose from the dead (confirming the truth of his message,
- So that all who turn and trust in him will also rise to eternal life.
The Bible says there is something miraculous that happens when that message is spoken and heard.
Somewhere in this room the Holy Spirit has already moved, and hearts heard the voice of God and LEAPT within.
Someone listening to this recording today or someday may have just been saved.
That’s how instantly this happens. John 3:8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
It “blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes”
And that is just the start. God’s Word says Christians are actually a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come.
If we want more good in the world, let’s speak the gospel regularly.
Those who hear the gospel and are saved and transformed into a new tree that will bear good fruit. True believers bear the fruit of the Spirit.
The gospel is what makes us even want to study the entirety of God’s Word.
The world does not bear that fruit. If we want to change the world, let’s share the gospel.
The gospel is not just to get us saved so we can move on. It’s the starting point to sanctify and transform the world around us.
If we don’t feel this kind of overflow of gratitude for the gospel that pours out into everything we do, we haven’t understood it in the first place and have no reason to think we’re saved.
Because the gospel changes us. Right?!
We know the truth of the gospel, we live the truth of the gospel, because it changes everything.
So the gospel is not the smile and the friendship you give to your unbelieving neighbor.
The gospel is not the hospitality you give to church members or strangers.
The gospel is not giving to the poor, or upholding the cause of the needy.
The gospel is not love, peace, joy, patience, gentleness or self control.
All of those things are the fruit of the gospel message already having its way on a cold dead heart making it new and warm and grateful.
We waste our time by telling people to stop acting foolishly in this way, or that way, if we’re not sharing the gospel with them.
- So again, the gospel is that God made this world good.
- And all of us have broken Gods law, again and again. Without a remedy we are desperately wicked and hopelessly lost, forever.
- But God loved us so much that without ceasing to be God he became a man, died on the cross, and rose from the grave
- so that all who turn and place their trust in Him alone will live forever.
Let’s share that news every day, to ourselves, to our families and children and grandchildren.
That’s what’s going to bless and heal this planet today and forever.
I’ll end with these two Scriptures:
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God…”
“the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”