The Gospel – The source of our strength and the lifeblood of the blood-washed
Romans 1:16 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek
What is the Gospel? One might answer this in many different ways but most, if not all would say this is an easy question, or is it? It is believed by many bible believing Christians that the Gospel is the entry point or basic message of Christianity. That once you know it and understand it there is no need to harp on these points. After all, we are people of progression and we desire to dive into the “deep things” of God. The Gospel is simply pushed aside as “milk” as we move on to the “meat” of God’s word. I am no one of important value, in fact I side with the apostle Paul…I am the chief of all sinners and the least among the brethren . But as a voice, be it a small one and a minister of the Gospel I feel it is partly my duty to make the first things first. It is the point of this post to state my deep concern for the well-being of the church at large and especially new converts and the lost among us. My prayer and plea is that the Gospel be preached and proclaimed among us who profess Christ! That it be clearly and plainly stated so that all who come may hear and understand. The Gospel message is not simply just an addition to Christianity…IT IS Christianity. It is not a mere prop or crutch to our faith…it is the very lifeblood of our faith.
So what is the Gospel? Please note that my attempts are feeble and I am far from understanding the unsearchable riches that are in Christ. Also I am not deceived into thinking that I am a scholar, I just know the power of the Gospel in my own life and have witnessed the message enter into once spiritually deaf ears and open them again. I have traced the footsteps of great men gone before us and have discovered the beaten path they left behind leads to the Cross. I have been awed by God’s grace in the lives of others and have sought out it’s source. What I have found every time is that the great blessings of God flow from Calvary. Apart from the death, burial, resurrection, and exaltation of Christ…we have no message! This is the message. The Gospel sheds light to all of scripture and empowers every doctrine of the Word of God. All things hinge on this. Rip any page of the bible and it should bleed the blood of Jesus. Read the bible through the lens of the Gospel and you will see Christ in every text.
First we must know two things before we can even attempt to understand this message. Number one…we are weak and number two…God is strong! In short the Gospel boils down to this…God does for man what man can never do for himself. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. While we were dead in our sins He has come to quicken us to new life. Through grace, a gift unmerited He has adopted us as sons and heirs to share in the promises of the Kingdom of God. This indeed is good news! Through the old testament and the law, it’s demands were “Be holy” and “Be perfect”. That is the radical message of the law. Now turn over to the new testament where Jesus declares “I have not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it”, the question still remains, how does He fulfill it? He still requires His people to be holy but the bad news to you and I is that we will never be holy in our own strength. So God requires something that we cannot do!? Exactly right! We are weak through the flesh and apart from God’s mercy and grace we are all lost. Enter the Gospel or the good news, God sends His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life! God is strong where we are weak, and He does in us what we could never do.
Picture the scene…Moses climbs the mountain where the smoke of God gathers around, the heavens shake and roar with God’s thunder and the very foundations of the earth tremble! What is the cause of this commotion? It is none other that The Lord Himself coming down to speak with Moses! All of Israel stays back in fear of being struck dead. God would command them to stay away and not get to close to the perimeter of the mountain, for He is holy and who can look on His face and live? In the meeting with Moses He gives him two tables of stone and with His own finger writes His holy and just law on them. Every commandment is upright and perfect and by them He condemns mankind for their ungodly ways. This is an accurate picture of the law, it is unapproachable, it is full of wrath and terror. It was written on cold dead lifeless stone. The law was never meant to remedy the problem of sin it was meant to expose it. It was designed by God to be an arrow to point us to Christ. Now move forward to the new testament where Jesus cries out to all who would hear…”come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” and again “whoever shall drink of this water shall never thirst again”. There is a stark difference between the old and new testament and the old and new covenant. What was once unapproachable and full of wrath and terror is now carried to every creature and full of love and mercy! What was once written on cold dead lifeless stone is now by the power of Grace written upon the human heart that is very much alive and warm!
I hope we all see this beautiful truth in a world where everyone is striving to earn God’s favor and measure up according to their own righteousness which always leads to external dead religion that holds no power. We may now come boldly but humbly before His throne by the way of the cross. In our mess, our guilt, and our shame, the words of the dying Savior shout to you and all who would believe…”IT IS FINISHED”!!! What was once done by work is now done by faith, for the just shall live by faith! What was once done by our own power is now done by the power of God. Jesus Christ lived the life that I could not live and dies the death that I deserved. Thus through His life He fulfilled the rigid commands of God and through death He conquered sin, and through His resurrection He would conquer death. So the demands of the Gospel are “repent and believe”! Both of which are products of God’s amazing grace! We come to Christ helpless admitting to Him we are sinners in need of His grace and He in return points to the bloody cross where our sins were paid! What a glorious exchange! His righteousness becomes mine and my punishment was put on Him. A substitutionary sacrifice. He not only dies to forgive sins but more specifically He died for YOU and ME. The wrath of God was poured out on Jesus for you! This should make you cry out…”Son of God have mercy on me”. The Holy Judge would slam His gavel down on not us, but His own son. Isaiah the prophet would declare…”Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when he shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand”. All this so that we might be called, justified, sanctified, and finally glorified!
These are the great truths on which Christians have stood firmly for centuries many even dying as martyrs to preserve the purity of the Gospel message. So when we look around the American church today and see the Gospel reduced down to a self-help mantra and packaged as a way to improve your already good life, we as stewards of the Gospel must stand bold and contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints. We are walking among dry bones. The world does not need another motivational speaker but an Ezekiel to stand and declare the word of the Lord! It is not profitable for us to lay down the sword of the Gospel for cheap, easier, softer means while men everywhere perish. There is a time to stop majoring on minors, and start majoring on the Gospel. When we preach Christ…God is glorified, when we exalt Christ…people are called to repentance and true Christians are nourished. Let us as spirit-led people wage war with the gates of Hell with the means God has given the church…The message of the person and work of Jesus Christ! This Gospel message will ripple out and effect us in every way, not just when we are converted but every day throughout our lives. May we be people that are spirit led, grounded in the word, saturated in prayer, and consumed by the unmovable truths of The Gospel!
May God bless His church and may the church rise to her high calling,
Your brother in Christ – Scott Neville
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