This Week's Teaching: "Be Encouraged! Be Refreshed! Make Sure You Know This Gospel!"
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The gospel means good news! Literally. To speak of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to talk about the goodness, love, and power of God and how, through Jesus, he reached out to us in our need. It's to explain the entirety of his work and ministry that saves us from the corruption in the world, and establishes the Kingdom of God in our lives, and through our lives.
Unfortunately many have presented the gospel as a propositional statement that you have to believe, like a few facts you need to agree with, and if you do that right, you'll go to heaven. But if you do it wrong, you'll spend eternity in hell.
The gospel is so much more powerful than that! God's love is so much more powerful than that!
In our complicated world, and our longing for simplicity, it's tempting to pick a pet verse like John 3:16 and memorize it as the gospel. But there are actually many verses that communicate the good news to us. And if we will just take time to read the scriptures, we will be renewed and refreshed by the fullness of the gospel!
In this week's teaching, I devote time to just reading the scriptures. Meditate on them as you listen.
And then, at the end, I give three statements that help me to summarize the gospel. It's such good news! May it be used for your strength and encouragement.
<TRANSCRIPT OF ABOVE VIDEO>
The gospel is not something so delicate that you have to get it just right or else you'll lose it. The gospel is not just a certain pet verse that you memorize . It's not three details that you have to have understood, or five details that you have to get just right or else it doesn't work for you. It's not something that if you accidentally get it wrong, somehow it fails for you. It's not a set of facts that you agree to. It's not any of that. It's way better than that. The gospel is something that will deliver you. It will redeem you, restore you, reconcile you in all the ways that the bad news has been bad in your life, in all the ways that the darkness has overpowered you, in all the ways that your own decisions have just put you to shame.
The gospel is the best news. The good news is the best news that you could ever encounter and respond to.
At the end of this, I'm going to give three statements that help me to understand it in a succinct way. It's not a replacement of scripture, it's just a way that I understand the gospel.
Sometimes when I speak about the gospel, I find it necessary to open up our view about the gospel because some people think that they've empowered it, that they've made it bold, but they've made it so delicate that you have to get it just right or else you'll lose your salvation. Oftentimes, I feel as if I'm trying to undermine certain aspects, certain core convictions of some people who would declare the gospel as something very defined around their own niche, doctrinal understanding. And that's not to say that I think that they're entirely wrong, it's just to say that the gospel is way more powerful than just a small doctrine that we believe.
Today I wanna read scriptures that excite me about the gospel, and at the end of this, I'm gonna give those three statements. But first I just have to read the scriptures because this is where we get the whole context.
Matthew four. In Matthew four, Jesus is beginning his ministry and it says, " From that time on, Jesus began to preach, 'Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near.'"
That is the gospel. Jesus was a preacher and that's what he went around preaching: "Repent for the kingdom of Heaven has come near."
And of course the all familiar John 3:16. Now it's larger than just this verse here. There's a context to it where Jesus is telling Nicodemus, a Pharisee , if you want to enter the kingdom of Heaven, you have to be born, not just physically but spiritually. You have to be reborn. You have to be born again. And he's explaining it to Nicodemus, and we read this: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." He says, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only son. This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light. For fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God."
After Jesus had died and was resurrected, he said this to the disciples in Matthew 28:18-20, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything [you heard me teach you,] everything I've commanded you, and surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
At the end of Mark, we read the similar thing. Jesus appeared to them and he said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
And it goes on to say that the disciples did that. They went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
In the end of Luke, the same sort of a message. Jesus tells them, "This is what is written. The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things," Jesus says to his disciples, "I'm going to send you what my father has promised, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
At the end of John, Jesus says to them the same sort of thing. He says, "'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.' And with that, he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.'" Peace be with you.
And so that's what happens. In Acts 2, we read that they're together and the Holy Spirit falls on them and they begin to prophesy and speak in tongues. And then Peter has to explain what's going on. And Peter's explanation is this â€” and listen to the good news. Listen for the good news in this.
He says, "'In the last days,' God says, 'I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions. Your old men will dream dreams even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above, and signs on the earth below, And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' He says, ' Fellow Israelites, listen! Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.'" He said, "'This man, Jesus, was handed over to you by God's deliberate plan and foreknowledge, and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.'" He says, verse 32, "'God has raised this Jesus to life and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this, God has made this Jesus whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.'"
And it says, when the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and they said, "What should we do?" And Peter said, "'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promises for you, [but it's also] for your children and for all who are far off, for all whom the Lord our God calls.'" And he kept on pleading with them, "'Save yourselves from this corrupt generation!'"
In chapter four. Peter again is talking. He says, "'Salvation is found in no one else for, there is no other name under heaven given to mankind, by which we must be saved.'"
Acts 10. Peter is called to Cornelius's house, a Gentile, and he's called to explain the gospel â€” not to a Jew, but to a Gentile. And Peter begins to speak. He says, "'I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts from every nation, the one who fears him and does what is right. You know, the message God sent to the people of Israel announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened through the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit in power and how we went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with him. We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen, by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.'" And we're told elsewhere that it was up to 500 people. "'He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him, that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.'"
Acts 13. Now Paul is speaking. Paul is starting to explain the gospel. And he says this, "'Fellow children of Abraham [Jews] and you God-fearing Gentiles, [non-Jews]. It is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him, they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead. And for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. We tell you the good news, what God promised our ancestors, he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. God raised him from the dead so that he will never be subject to decay. Therefore my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus, the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.'" Everything you've ever done. "'Through him, everyone who believes is set free from every sin. A justification that you weren't able to obtain under the law of Moses."
The gospel, the good news proclaimed by Paul.
1 CORINTHIANS 15:2-8
As we turn to the epistles, we read in first Corinthians 15, where Paul says, "I want to remind you of the gospel that I preached to you, which you received, and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you've just believed in vain. For what I received, I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas (or Peter) and then to the Twelve, and after that, he appeared to more than 500 of the brothers and sisters at the same time, and so forth.
2 TIMOTHY 1:7-11
In 2 Timothy 1, Paul writes this. " The spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord. Rather join with me in suffering for the gospel. By the power of God, he has saved us and called us to a holy life. Not because of anything we've done, but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our savior, Jesus Christ, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
In Romans 2, listen to the good news. "God will repay each person according to what they have done. To those who by persistence in doing good, seek glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life... This will take place on the day when God judges people's secrets through Jesus Christ as my gospel declares."
Do you hear the good news? Romans 10:4. "Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes... This is the message concerning faith that we proclaim. If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As scripture says, 'Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.' For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. The same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him. For, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'"
The best news you can imagine.
2 CORINTHIANS 5:14-21
2 Corinthians 5 verse 14. "Christ's love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone. The new is here. All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us this message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God." Be reconciled to God. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
2 PETER 1:3-11
2 Peter 1, " His divine power, has given us everything we need for a godly life, through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these, he has given us his very great and precious promises so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness, and to goodness, knowledge into knowledge, self-control, into self-control, perseverance into perseverance, godliness, into godliness, mutual affection, and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they've been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters make every effort to confirm your calling and election for if you do these things, you will never stumble and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
I'm almost done with scripture here.
1 JOHN 1:5-9
1 John 1. Ah. "This is the message we have heard from him. And declare to you: God is light. In him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar. And his word is not in us, but I write this to you so that you will not sin, but if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the father: Jesus Christ, the righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world."
And then finally, Jude. Last two verses. " To the only God our Savior, be glory and majesty and power and authority through Jesus Christ, our Lord, before all ages now and forever more."
We can keep on reading the stories of scripture and what we would come up with is this gospel that can't be just boiled down into one pet verse. If you are a pet verse person, I probably read one of your pet verses and I'm just saying listen to all of it, because it's not just the gospel about how you can get your sins forgiven so you can go to heaven instead of going to hell. This is the gospel of the kingdom, how you can live in right relationship with God, how you can be in the kingdom of God and all that that means.
This is the gospel. The good news.
I said at the top, that I'm gonna give three statements that help me to just kind of keep all of in perspective. The last thing I would want anyone to do is just memorize these three things and say it's the gospel because the gospel is just read the scriptures and let it speak. But for me, when I do that, of course I gotta try and figure out what is it saying? And this calls me to action. It calls me to decision. And I would pray that it does to you too.
As I understand it. Three statements.
God is good, loving, and powerful, and Jesus is the exact representation of his being.
He's all good, always good, all loving, always loving, all powerful, always powerful. God is good, loving and powerful, and Jesus is the exact representation of his being. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is God. God is good, loving, and powerful, and Jesus is the exact representation of his being.
Second statement: Humanity is idolatrous, adulterous, and powerless, and I am the exact representation of its being. This is on me. I am by nature, idolatrous, adulterous, and powerless. I'm the exact representation of humanity in that sense.
We all have experienced that. We all are inclined to be idolatrous, to set up other things in the place of God. We are all inclined to be adulterous, to be faithless to God and to go after other lusts. And we are all powerless over these things. We are born with this weakness that is inclined to things that we decide we don't want to do. The things we say we're not gonna do, those are the things we do. And the things that we say we do want to do, those are the things that we can't do. We're powerless. Humanity is idolatrous, adulterous, and powerless, and I am the exact representation of its being. I'm owning that. I would suggest you own it too. Can you say that?
This is the confession of our need, the confession of God: he's good, loving, and powerful, and Jesus is the exact representation of his being. The confession of our need: humanity is idolatrous, adulterous, and powerless, and I am the exact representation of its being.
The good news.
Third statement: the good news is that Jesus redeems, reconciles, and restores all who turn to him and put their confidence in him. I have done that, and I do that. This is the good news. This is the good news.
Have you done that? I have and I do every day. I am right with God. I'm redeemed. I am reconciled. And I am restored. Where I was idolatrous, I have been redeemed. Where I was adulterous, I have been reconciled. Where I was powerless, I have been restored. His divine power works in me. His divine power has given me everything that I need for living a godly life, for participating in the divine nature.
This is the gospel, the gospel of the kingdom. I pray that it encourages you. Come back to this and chew on it. Meditate on it. Be encouraged. Be strengthened to remain faithful to him.
If you have any comments about this or take issue with anything that I've said, go ahead and leave a comment. I'm happy to have that engagement.
If you've never put your faith in Jesus and would like some connection around that, go to my website, rogershenk.com. Connect with me there.
If you don't have a church we have a network of microchurches. We meet together in small groups in homes or wherever , and I believe that that would be a powerful way for you to understand the scriptures better and to learn what it is to be in Christ.
So reach out to me at x242.net. However you reach me is fine. I'm the same person either way, but x242.net and just let me know that you're ready to find a micro church.
These are good times because the good news is greater than the bad news. Be encouraged. Be strengthened.