Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Gospel of Jesus Christ

So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. --Romans 1:15-17

The theme of the book of Romans is the righteousness of God. The purpose of the book of Romans is to declare that true righteousness is a free gift to men.

In the apostle’s day many of God’s people found this hard to believe; for them righteousness was a work to be performed under the law, a meritorious achievement. We will make a mistake if we assume that such legalism is dead.

Someone said, "The legalist is a self-made man; and legalism is the attempt to run our own lives and earn our own salvation - that is to be good without God."

Paul takes up this theme and He shows the utter failure of man to produce His own righteousness. The gospel (good news) that Paul was writing about was the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This morning I want us to look at this gospel from Paul’s perspective.

The Gospel is not only a statement of principles, but a record of facts.

This gospel is the gospel of God (verse 1). This gospel is about Jesus the son of God (verse 3).

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. -- John 3:16

This fact tells us what it cost the Father and what it cost the Son for this great salvation. It cost the Father His Son. It cost Jesus His life.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: --Romans 5:6-12

Facts in this scripture:

  • God loved us...
  • ...while we were yet sinners.
  • We are justified by His blood.
  • We are saved from wrath.
  • We are saved by His life.

If you want to understand His death you must understand who it was that died and who it was he died for. The mere fact that Jesus , a young Nazarene, was executed is no more a gospel than the other two who were executed with Him. But here the Son of God died...

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: --I Corinthians 15:3-4

We need to understand that Jesus didn’t have to died for us but He took our place on the cross to pay our debt for our sin.

If the scripture stopped with the statement ‘"Christ died" then we could say that His death was a was a beautiful example of heroism of a teacher. But explanation goes on, "And that He was buried..." Why that statement here? Because it guarantees the fact of His death and it’s bearing on the evidences of His resurrection. "He rose the third day."

Christ died, He was buried, and He rose! Without the these three facts we have no salvation.

The Gospel is the power of God at work.

And declared to be the Son of God with power. --Romans 1:4

P.T. Forsyth said: "This is not a statement, nor a doctrine nor a scheme nor a promise. It is an act of power, an act of redemption, an eternal act of God in Christ."

The Gospel is the power of God. This does not say that the gospel has power but that the gospel is power. The gospel itself is God’s unique, incomparable power at work. God is the source of our salvation and he saves through the power centered around the work on the cross of Jesus.

"There is power in the blood of Jesus to make the vilest sinner whole.
Power to take the guilt and condemnation from the weary sin-sick soul."

The Christian message is a graphic portrayal of Christ’s crucifixion. This message received by faith brings Justification and a release of God’s Spirit in our lives.

The gospel, therefore brings salvation.

  • Salvation means deliverance from sin and wrath.
  • Salvation has its beginnings in conviction of sin.
  • Salvation occurs at the moment of saving faith.
  • Salvation brings Justification (pardon, acceptance).
  • Salvation brings regeneration (new life in the Spirit).
  • Salvation brings sanctification (purity of heart).
  • Salvation can only come to pass by confession of our sins!

Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them.
But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:)
Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. --Romans 10:1-10

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. --I John 1:9

The Gospel brings salvation.

For therein(in salvation) is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: --Romans 1:17

Salvation means "deliverance." Deliverance from what? Wrath or punishment of God for sinning...

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; --Romans 1:18

When we read the rest of Romans 1 and chapter 2 we find a whole list of things that brings the wrath of God on sinners.

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. --Romans 1:19

We need to understand that we are held accountable for what we know about sin. Read verses 20-32. Reaction of God’s knowledge about sin is the cause of the wrath of God. Wrath is the judgment of the Holy One upon sin in every form.

A.M. Hunter said: "Wrath is His holy love reacting against evil."

The Wrath of God is a reality. But we need to understand that God's wrath isn’t hate. Hate opposes love; God’s wrath is the form love takes with those who oppose it. Hate seeks to destroy; God’s wrath seeks to forgives.

Salvation brings deliverance from the wrath of God. So we have to choose to live for God or live in sin.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. --Romans 6:12-18

Those who choose to live in sin (for God gives them that choice) will find that they will face the wrath of God waiting for them

C..S. Lewis wrote these words: "The lost enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved."

The final retribution of hell is to be abandoned forever to ourselves because of our choices.

D.H. Lawrence wrote:
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,
But it is a much more fearful thing to fall out of them.
And still man can break away, and fall from the hands of God into self alone,
down the Godless plunge of the abyss."

Let me share a story with you in closing.

A wealthy man and his son loved to collect rare works of art. They had everything in their collection, from Picasso to Raphael. They would often sit together and admire the great works of art. When the Vietnam conflict broke out the son went to war. He was very courageous and died in battle while rescuing another soldier.

The father was notified and grieved deeply for his only son.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock at the door. A young man stood at the door with a large package in his hands.

He said, "Sir, you don ' t know me, but I am the soldier for whom your son gave his life. He saved many lives that day, and he was carrying me to safety when a bullet struck him in the heart and he died instantly. He often talked about you, and your love for art." The young man held out this package. "I know this isn' t much. I ' m not really a great artist, but I think your son would have wanted you to have this." The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the young man. He stared in awe at the way the soldier had captured the personality of his son in the painting. The father was so drawn to the eyes that his own eyes welled up with tears. He thanked the young man and offered to pay him for the picture.

"Oh, no sir, I could never repay what your son did for me. It ' s a gift."

The father hung the portrait over his mantle. Every time visitors came to his home he took them to see the portrait of his son before he showed them any of the other great works he had collected.

The man died a few months later. There was to be a great auction of his paintings Many influential people gathered, excited over seeing the great paintings and having an opportunity to purchase one for their collection.

On the platform sat the painting of the son The auctioneer pounded his gavel. "We will start the bidding with this picture of the son. Who will bid for this picture?"

There was silence.

Then a voice in the back of the room shouted, "We want to see the famous paintings. Skip this one."

But the auctioneer persisted. "Will somebody bid for this painting. Who will start the bidding? $100, $200?"

Another voice angrily. "We didn ' t come to see this painting. We came to see the Van Goghs, the Rembrandts. Get on with the real bids!" But still the auctioneer continued.

"The son! The son! Who'll take the son?"

Finally, a voice came from the very back of the room. It was the longtime gardener of the man and his son. "I'll give $10 for the painting." Being a poor man, it was all he could afford.

We have $10, who will bid $20?"

"Give it to him for $10. Let ' s see the masters."

"$10 is the bid, won't someone bid $20?"

The crowd was becoming angry. They didn ' t want the picture of the son. They wanted the more worthy investments for their collections.

The auctioneer pounded the gavel. "Going once, twice, SOLD for $10!" A man sitting on the second row shouted, "Now let's get on with the collection!"

The auctioneer laid down his gavel. "I'm sorry. The auction is over."

"What about the paintings?"

"I am sorry. When I was called to conduct this auction, I was told of a secret stipulation in the will. I was not allowed to reveal that stipulation until this time. Only the painting of the son would be auctioned. Whoever bought that painting would inherit the entire estate, including the paintings. The man who took the son gets everything!"

God gave His son 2,000 years ago to die on the cross. Much like the auctioneer, His message today is: "The son, the son, who'll take the son?" Because, you see, whoever takes the Son gets everything.

For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son. Whosoever believeth shall have eternal life. That's love.

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