One of the favorite titles I’ve held in my life (behind “Dad” of course) is Volunteer Fireman. I was honored to volunteer with one of St. Tammany Parish’s finest Volunteer Fire Departments for a number of years and still like to provide spiritual care for our first responders as a Volunteer Chaplain. One night I was out with our guys for a woods fire near Abita Springs. The fire was away from a road so our trucks couldn’t get close. The chief says, “I need to know how close that fire is, two of you go see.” Since I hadn’t volunteered for any assignments involving burning buildings, I jumped out first and took off through the thick woods. As we approached the fire, the wind picked up and we noticed that it was coming at us fairly fast and the way we had come was too thick for us to be able to make a quick escape. We began clawing as fast as we could parallel to the fire until we found a spot that was burning low enough for us to jump over. The environment at that point changed from scarry to eery. The ground singed and scarred, smoke rising, but we were safe. We were standing where it had already been burned and the fire would not be able to burn there again. We followed the fire up to the trucks at which point it was quickly extinguished.
That night I was reminded of 1 John 2:2, “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” The word propitiation is used only here in the New Testament and it is filled with meaning for the real Christian. The word means “the appeasement or averting of God’s wrath or justice.” So, Jesus, through His death on the cross, appeased, absorbed, and averted God’s wrath toward me. Because of my sin, I faced the fire of God’s judgement (Romans 1:18, John 3:36), but in Christ I’m moved over to where the fire has already burned. Jesus took my judgement, He took my sin, He took my penalty, He took my justice. In Christ, there’s an eery safety. There’s been fire here, but it won’t be again.
Hebrews 9:27 says, “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” On that day of judgement, which side of the fire line will you be standing on?
Join Bridge Church as we continue our study of the Explicit Gospel. Sunday’s at 10:30am at the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum.
Explicit lyrics in the 80’s, brought on the Parental Advisory labels for cassettes and then CD’s in the 90’s. So, I’ve always considered the word explicit to mean naughty. Then while reading Matt Chandler’s 2012 book Explicit Gospel, I used my handy “look up in dictionary” feature on the Mac toolbar and learned the definition had little to do with potty words. Explicit is defined as “stated clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt.” That’s actually a great adjective for the message of God. Though there is a lot of confusion about what Christianity, religion, the Gospel is all about (see my last post), God has laid it out where anyone can grasp his desire. So in an effort to be explicit this morning, here’s a few of my fav verses, definitions, links and resources to remove doubt and confusion and state it clearly and in detail. I’ll be adding to this post over the next few weeks as our church studies the Explicit Gospel. Get to know the Gospel!!!
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 – “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel… that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…”
- John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
- Romans 6:23 – “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Ephesians 2:1, 4-5 – “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins… But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved”
- Gospel comes from the word “Evangel” which means Good News. “Evangel” was news of a great historical event that changed the listeners condition and required response. So the gospel is news of what God has done to accomplish salvation through Jesus Christ in history.
- Martin Luther: “The gospel is a story about Christ, God’s and David’s son, who died and was raised, and is established as Lord. This is the gospel in a nutshell.”
- Tim Keller: “Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, God fully accomplishes salvation for us, rescuing us from judgment for sin into fellowship with him, and then restores the creation in which we can enjoy our new life together with him forever.”
- John Piper: “The Gospel is the good news of our final and full enjoyment of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
- Ed Stetzer: “The gospel is the good news that God, who is more holy than we can imagine, looked upon with compassion, people, who are more sinful than we would possibly admit, and sent Jesus into history to establish his Kingdom and reconcile people and the world to himself. Jesus, whose love is more extravagant than we can measure, came to sacrificially die for us so that, by His death and resurrection, we might gain through His grace what the Bible defines as new and eternal life.”
- Tullian Tchividjian: ”The Gospel is the the good news that in and through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, God makes all things new.”
- Two Ways to Live
- God, Man, Christ, Response
- How to Be Born Again by Billy Graham
- See Trevin Wax’s great collection of Gospel Definitions.
Though some churches are growing, we live in a day of declining church attendance. And beyond the pragmatistic solutions that we have to offer and conference about, we also must connect the dots to the reality that people are turning to other things for good news (substance, pleasure, people, false religions, etc.) and YEP, they’re saying to our Gospel, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” Now, there are eternal consequences to this. Devastating. Eternal. Consequences. Why and how MUST be priorities for Christians and churches concerned about the Gospel, the Great Commission, the glory of God, the lives and souls of people.
In our Lenten study called The Explicit Gospel, our church is currently focusing on What is the Gospel? How do we make it part of everyday life?How do we share it in relevant ways to our friends? How do we allow the Gospel to influence how we do church? prepare for the future? etc.
There are good reasons to point to for the answer to the question, “Why are people turning to other things for Good News?” Why do p
1. It’s Spiritual. The Bible actually says that many people will not get it. Some people will never have time for that! That’s why Jesus often concluded truth statements with the phrase, “He who has ears to hear let him hear” (Matthew 11:15, Mark 4:9, Luke 8:8) knowing that some would not be able to comprehend the spiritual truth and respond to it. In the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8, Jesus predicted that only one in four people that hear the word will respond with fruitfulness. The spiritual obstacles of Satan, suffering, and stuff can get in the way of us understanding and responding to the Gospel. See also 2 Corinthians 4:4.eople not have time for the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Here’s a few:
2. Compelling Counterfeits. Counterfeit Gospels scatter the landscape and many of them are compelling. A counterfeit gospel is anything that adds to or takes away from the Gospel or from Jesus’ work of defeating sin at the cross and death at the tomb. It’s + or – Jesus. Anything that we count on for hope, peace, salvation, security, significance outside of Jesus is a counterfeit. These can be substance, pleasure, possessions, people, or almost anything our heart goes after. It can also be something good. A compelling counterfeit can be found in church every Sunday with people who are trusting Jesus AND their religious activity to bring them salvation. The true Gospel is Jesus + or – nothing.
3. Failure to Communicate. We can’t blame ourselves for the Spiritual realities and counterfeits around us, but God put communication of the Gospel right on our to do list (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, Romans 10:14-17). The Apostle Paul asks the obvious and challenging questions in Romans 10:14-15, “how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?” God’s plan for getting the Gospel to those around us is US. It’s our job to communicate it every way we can. We must be committed to telling, churches must be committed to sending. And we must be committed to living out the Gospel everyday. This includes applying the Gospel to our own lives as well. Our actions MUST line up with our message. Someone quipped about Christians, “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear what you’re saying.” And “If it weren’t for Christians, there’d be more of us.” How are we communicating the Gospel must be a constant question?
Next, we’ll look at answers to the question, What is the Gospel? and What does it have to do with my everyday life?
Join Bridge Church on Sunday’s at the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum in Madisonville as we continue this series and together seek to live out the Gospel In Christ, On Mission, 4 Others.