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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
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    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « What's Wrong With This Picture? | Main | Images of the Savior (21 -- The Passover) »

    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 “there are no absolutes!!!” – except of course that this itself is an absolute statement.. It is considered the height of arrogance and pride to say “I know the truth” 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 “you have your truth, I have mine – and what is true for you may not be true for me, but I certainly respect your truth…” But there’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."

    “Oh No… Truth changes” some people say – 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 minute… 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. People’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 “Jesus is the Truth” – but that is not because we think our opinion is greater than anyone else’s, but because Jesus said this about Himself (John 14:6) – He is the One who made this claim.. and therefore, He is who He said He is, or else He is a liar… 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 known… 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 “the truth of the gospel”).

    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 “damnable heresies” (2 Peter 2:1) – 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 – 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 – He has done something for us. Its news - not advice - news – 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 God’s anger (wrath) was meted out on Him… Isa 53: 4-6 - He was punished so we might be forgiven… 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 NEWS… THE GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD – God is willing to govern the human race… 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 – The Gospel is about Who He is and what He has done – and what He has done is good news for you.

    HERESY IS ALL AROUND US – 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 “to know” – Three Major Heresies (amongst others) – (1) The Greek idea that spirit was good and matter was evil. Along with this was the idea of (2) DOCETISM – from the Greek word “dokein” meaning “to seem.” 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 Paul’s words in Col 2:9 – “In Christ dwells all the fullness (Greek word is pleroma) of Deity in bodily form…”

    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 – believe – be baptized – become an active member of His Church serving Him as His slave

    SLAVERY – not a popular concept – 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 “doulos” found throughout the New Testament has a perfectly clear meaning – “a slave.” 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 there’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 – not merely service at one’s own discretion (when he/she feels like it).

    Matt 6: 24 Lit.. “No one can be a slave of two masters” - an employee with two jobs can indeed serve two masters – 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 – slavery to Christ is simply what is expected of us. Christ – the slave of His Father - Phil 2 “taking the form of a slave…” – calls us to slavery – 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 – but it is a yoke, nonetheless.

    SLAVES WHO ARE ALSO FRIENDS - See John 15:14, 15 - “the slave does not know what his master is doing” – his life is marked by unhesitant obedience without any need for explanation – he is to obey whether he understands the command or not.. yet Jesus had kept nothing from His disciples – “for all things that I heard from the Father I have made known to you” (v. 15) – 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 – 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

    Posted by John Samson on August 29, 2008 03:17 AM

    Comments

    The Lord has impressed upon me also to defend this all-important truth. Come visit our site for further scriptural encouragement regarding defending the "truth of the gospel"
    Your brother in Christ and fellow truth warrior,Larry Kinsler.

    Dear Beloved Brethren,

    Much greetings through the exalted name of our Loving saviour Jesus Christ from kenya.
    I am very much pleased to tell you that your teachings on your website are a great blessing to me, my family and the young independent christian fellowship
    that i founded when i got the call of the lord to do so.
    So, i, my wife , children and some few brethren from the commmunity we are
    serving the lord under this christian fellowship.

    The fellowship is of 32 members.
    I also take care of ten orphans whose parents died.
    In this i am requesting you to send us more teachings that will enable us, as a small church to grow spritually.

    As well it is my kind request that you also remember these needy orphans under
    my care in your daily prayers that God can open them ways for their needs both in
    physical and spritual growth.As well I kindly invite you to come here in kenya and bless our people with the gospel of our lord jesus.Kenya needs mighty people of God to lead her in to salvation and know the Living God. Please have a kind consideration to extend your kind cooperation for the extension of the Kingdom of God.
    Also i would be happy if you will accept us to be part of your fellowship.
    Pass our sincere regards and greetings to all Brothers and Sisters in christ.

    yours at His service,
    Pastor. Peterson Okindo

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