The truth of the gospel
This coming weekend, God willing, I will be preaching at the three weekend services at a large reformed Church in Tucson, Arizona called Faith Community Church. I normally would seek to exegete one main Bible passage but this time I will endeavor to preach a topical sermon on the theme of "the truth of the Gospel." It is the custom in this Church to provide extensive sermon notes for those in the pew so that they can follow along the pastor's/preacher's sermon outline and have it to take home with them. Because of this I have been asked to send these notes ahead of time in an e-mail so that they might make copies and have them ready for the people. It's after midnight now on Friday morning and I have finally finished writing out these notes. The thought ocurred to me that if I post these notes here, perhaps those who read them may be encouraged afresh to stand for gospel truth in our day. Please bear in mind that although these notes may seem full, this is still just a skeleton outline of the sermon. I am trusting God to provide meat on the bones, so to speak, as He feeds His people when the word of God is proclaimed. I would very much value your prayers in this regard. God bless you - Rev. John Samson
THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL
We live in a relativistic age when the very idea of truth and certainty is denied. We constantly hear â€œthere are no absolutes!!!â€ â€“ except of course that this itself is an absolute statement.. It is considered the height of arrogance and pride to say â€œI know the truthâ€ about something. It is far more palatable to modern tastes to suggest merely that truth is mysterious and that none amongst us can be certain of anything. This seems far more humble, at least on the surface anyway.. and on a human level, it certainly helps us all get along to say â€œyou have your truth, I have mine â€“ and what is true for you may not be true for me, but I certainly respect your truthâ€¦â€ But thereâ€™s a big problem with this when we consider that God Himself, Truth personified, has claimed to reveal Himself in His Son, Jesus Christ and in His Word, the Bible. This speaks of truth that is true, whether or not we believe it, or as Dr. Francis Schaefer called it, "true truth."
â€œOh Noâ€¦ Truth changesâ€ some people say â€“ one argument used over and over to make this claim is to say that most people used to think the world was flat, but now most believe the world is round..
But hold on a minuteâ€¦ when people believed the world was flat, was it actually flat? No, of course not.. so what has changed?.. Has the truth changed?? No, the truth has not changed at all.. the world was round 500 years ago, just as it is today. Peopleâ€™s perception of the truth has changed, but the truth has remained constant. The world was round when people believed it was flat..
As Christians, we proclaim â€œJesus is the Truthâ€ â€“ but that is not because we think our opinion is greater than anyone elseâ€™s, but because Jesus said this about Himself (John 14:6) â€“ He is the One who made this claim.. and therefore, He is who He said He is, or else He is a liarâ€¦ He is either a liar, a lunatic or Lord.. either mad, bad or God!
It is actually the height of arrogance to suggest God has not made the truth clear to us. In contrast, the Christian humbly submits to the revelation that God exists, that He is able to communicate clearly, and He has done so in Jesus Christ and in His Word, the Holy Scriptures.
The Apostle Paul was one who believed in truth and that God had made this truth knownâ€¦ He believed the Gospel was clear and not in any way fuzzy. When he witnessed situations or came across teaching that undermined gospel truth, he opposed it vehemently. See Galatians 2:4-5, 14. (note the recurring phrase â€œthe truth of the gospelâ€).
Some teachings just miss the mark and are not in any way grounds for the breaking of fellowship with another believer. Yet some teachings, if believed, puts a person outside of the Christian faith because they are â€œdamnable heresiesâ€ (2 Peter 2:1) â€“ they damn the soul. Heresy is a moral issue, not just a theological misjudgment, and to believe and proclaim false teaching is to defy God and His revelation to us found in His word. As we read Galatians chapter 1, we see Paul pronouncing the eternal curse of damnation on anyone, any angel, or even on himself should he distort the Gospel of Christ. So what exactly is the Gospel? - Well, first of all:
THE GOSPEL IS NEWS - Its an announcement concerning an event. Its not something we do, it is something that has been done, outside of us, and on behalf of us â€“ for us. It has already happened.. its news!!! Nothing we do changes this news. Yes, we are to make a response to it, but our actions do not affect the news. Our actions are merely a response or reaction to the news.
Every man-made religion offers advice telling us to do their prescribed things (rituals, works/acts of service, etc.) to achieve the desired result.. inner peace, tranquility, salvation (however they define it). BUT in the Gospel, God announces news â€“ He has done something for us. Its news - not advice - news â€“ not personal testimony (what has happened to you may be glorious but this is an effect of the Gospel, not the Gospel itself)
THE GOSPEL IS GOOD NEWS (Understood in the light of the bad news) - The Bible on almost every page tells us that our God is a God of love.. yet the same Bible proclaims that God is righteous and holy and must punish sin. Every one of us have defied God by our thoughts, words and actions, but instead of giving us what we rightly deserve, God sent His Son into the world to live a holy life and die an atoning death, taking the punishment we deserved (as the substitute for sinners), and rising again from death on the third day. On the cross, our sin was transferred (imputed) to Christ and Godâ€™s anger (wrath) was meted out on Himâ€¦ Isa 53: 4-6 - He was punished so we might be forgivenâ€¦ for all who believe (trust) in Christ, not only was their sin transferred to Him, but His very righteousness is transferred to us (2 Cor 5:21).
ITS SERIOUS NEWSâ€¦ THE GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD â€“ God is willing to govern the human raceâ€¦ there is a King, who has ascended the throne and He commands all to submit to His rule.. yet this is indeed good news, because He is a good King!
THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST â€“ The Gospel is about Who He is and what He has done â€“ and what He has done is good news for you.
HERESY IS ALL AROUND US â€“ the bookstores of America (Borders, Barnes and Noble, etc.) are not in business to uphold the Christian faith but simply to make a profit. Walk into the religious section and you see what is selling, and its not a pretty sight. One wonderful Christian book can be surrounded by a dozen beautifully illustrated books that are, in spiritual terms, simply coiled serpents ready to strike with the deadly venom of heresy.
GNOSTIC AMERICA - Gnostic from the Greek word meaning â€œto knowâ€ â€“ Three Major Heresies (amongst others) â€“ (1) The Greek idea that spirit was good and matter was evil. Along with this was the idea of (2) DOCETISM â€“ from the Greek word â€œdokeinâ€ meaning â€œto seem.â€ To the Gnostics, Christ only seemed to have a physical body, but it was not physical in reality because if Jesus was truly good, he would not have a real physical body - it was an illusion. The Apostle John constantly dealt with this early form of Gnosticism as it tried to spread within the early Church (see John 1:1, 14; 1 John 4: 2, 3)
The Gnostics would absorb the religions around them and put each deity they found in their elaborate chart of emanations or aeons (gods). Eventually the chart descends downward to reveal the Demiurge of the less than pure God who created matter (the God of Christians and Jews). This charting or ranking system was known as the (3) PLEROMA.. Now hear Paulâ€™s words in Col 2:9 â€“ â€œIn Christ dwells all the fullness (Greek word is pleroma) of Deity in bodily formâ€¦â€
In other words, if you want a chart.. its JESUS CHRIST.. He is the beginning and the end.. Jesus is the entire pleroma, the fullness of Deity.. all that makes God, God.
OUR RESPONSE - Submit to the rule of the King. We are to forsake all attempts to come to God on our terms, by our actions, turning away from all we know to be wrong (repentance) and trust (faith) Christ alone as our only Savior and Lord. Repent â€“ believe â€“ be baptized â€“ become an active member of His Church serving Him as His slave
SLAVERY â€“ not a popular concept â€“ then or now. It conjures up many horrible images because of the many abuses. This was no less the case in the ancient world, but this is the imagery that the Holy Spirit has given to us in Scripture.
The Greek word â€œdoulosâ€ found throughout the New Testament has a perfectly clear meaning â€“ â€œa slave.â€ Though I greatly respect many of the modern day translations, very sadly, most of them have obscured this reality. Perhaps for obvious reasons, this concept has been toned down in our Bibles and we have not felt the thunderous impact of the original word. Often the word doulos is translated servant, but thereâ€™s quite a difference between a servant and a slave. A slave has no personal rights but is to give unqualified submission to the control and the directives of another â€“ not merely service at oneâ€™s own discretion (when he/she feels like it).
Matt 6: 24 Lit.. â€œNo one can be a slave of two mastersâ€ - an employee with two jobs can indeed serve two masters â€“ he can finish working for one man and then go to work for another. A servant gives service to someone, but a slave belongs to someone. Note the language of Scripture - 1 Cor 6:19, 20; Rev 5:9; Rom 14:7-9
Luke 17:7-10 â€“ slavery to Christ is simply what is expected of us. Christ â€“ the slave of His Father - Phil 2 â€œtaking the form of a slaveâ€¦â€ â€“ calls us to slavery â€“ yet to be a slave of Christ is to be truly free. Christ sets us free from tyranny of slavery to satan, into the glorious liberty of slavery to Him.. walking in Holy Spirit endued power, touching lives around us with His love. His yoke (of slavery) is easy, His burden is light â€“ but it is a yoke, nonetheless.
SLAVES WHO ARE ALSO FRIENDS - See John 15:14, 15 - â€œthe slave does not know what his master is doingâ€ â€“ his life is marked by unhesitant obedience without any need for explanation â€“ he is to obey whether he understands the command or not.. yet Jesus had kept nothing from His disciples â€“ â€œfor all things that I heard from the Father I have made known to youâ€ (v. 15) â€“ we are much more than slaves to Jesus, we are His friends, but we should always remember, He is still our Lord. This Despot of love has stormed our hearts so that we want to do His will.
THE GOSPEL IS FOR CHRISTIANS â€“ The Parable of the Sailboat (illustration)
Flee to Christ, believe His gospel and celebrate it every day by living as His slave
Rom 1:1 - Paul, a bond-servant (doulos.. a slave) of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God
Can you fill in your name and life assignment as a slave of the King?
_________________ a slave of Jesus Christ, called as a ______________, set apart for the gospel of God