Grace For The Journey
Every Christian loves the gospel. We know first hand what makes it such Good News! However, as one reads the Bible, it is apparent that there is an ingredient of the Gospel that is missing today. This is important to know because by definition,
You cannot have a Christian
Who isn’t shaped by
Saved by the gospel.
We need to preach the gospel the way Jesus and the apostles did.
- Theirs was not a message of unconditional affirmation.
- They showed no interest in helping people find the hidden and beautiful self deep inside.
- They did not herald the good news that God likes you just the way you are.
- Theirs was not a self-centered or self-help Gospel
Too much “gospel” preaching today sounds like a slightly spiritualized version of that old Christina Aguilera song: “You are beautiful no matter what they say. Words can’t bring you down. You are beautiful in every single way. Yes, words can’t bring you down. So don’t bring me down today.”
I don’t doubt that many of us feel beat up and put down. We struggle sometimes with low self-esteem, feeling of inadequacy, and even self-loathing. We need to know we can be okay, even when we don’t feel okay. It is good news to hear, then, that God loves us in Christ and that we are precious in His sight.
But, the gospel is more than positive self-talk and self-help,
And the gospel Jesus and the apostles preached was more than a warm,
“Don’t let anybody tell you you’re not special” bear hug.
There’s a word missing from
The presentation of our modern gospel.
It’s the word “repent.”
Yes . . . I know . . . that sounds old school, like an embarrassing sidewalk preacher with a sandwich board and tracts with bad graphics and lots of exclamation point preaching. And yet . . .
Even a cursory glance at the New Testament
Demonstrates that we haven’t understood
The message of the gospel
If we never talk about repentance.
- When John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord, he preached repentance (Matthew 3:8,11)
- When Jesus launched His Galilean ministry He declared, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17)
- Jesus understood the purpose of His ministry to be calling sinners to repentance (Luke5:32).
- Just before His ascension, the resurrected Christ implored the disciples to be His witnesses, that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” would be preached in his name to all nations (Luke 24:47).
- In fact, if there is a one-sentence summary of Jesus’s preaching in Mark 1:14-15 “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’”
Notice that tow words: “repent” and “believe.” The two are virtually synonymous in the New Testament, not that the words mean the same thing, but that they are signs of the same Spirit-prompted work and lead to the same end times inheritance.
The proper response to the gospel
Repent and believe
(Matthew 21:32; Acts 20:21).
If only one item in the pair is mentioned –
Which happens often in the New Testament –
We should realize that the other half is assumed.
You can’t really believe without also repenting,
You haven’t really repented if you don’t also believe.
The gospel message is sometimes presented as a straightforward summons to repent (Acts 3:18-19). Other times, forgiveness is linked to a singular act of repentance (Acts 5:31; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10). The message of the apostolic good news is that God will be merciful when we repent and that repentance leads to life (Acts 11:18). Simply put . . . the full gospel message is: “Repent therefore and be converted, that you sins may be blotted out . . .” (Acts 3:19).
If the call to repentance is a necessary part of faithful gospel preaching, then maybe we don’t have as good as grasp of the Gospel as we should have. The summons to turn from sin, die to self, and turn to Christ is missing from prosperity preachers, from preachers in step with the progressive theology movement, and even from not a few gospel-centered preachers, too.
To be sure, we aren’t called
To beat people up Sunday after Sunday.
Many folks stumble into church
In desperate need of the Balm of Gilead.
We must not overlook that.
I think anyone who listens to several weeks of my sermons will hear that I’m not a “finger-wagging scolder.” And yet . . .
If I never call people, with God’s authority,
To be genuinely sorry for sin,
To hate it more and more,
And to turn from it,
Then I’m not doing the work
A Gospel preacher should do.
The unpopular fact remains that the ungrateful and unrepentant will not be saved (1 Corinthians 9-10; Galatians 5:19-20; Ephesians 5:1-20; 1 John 3:14).
The New Testament has nothing
To say about building the kingdom,
But it does have everything to say
About how we can enter into the kingdom.
The coming of the King is only good news
For those who turn from sin and turn to God.
If we want to give people a message that saves, instead of one that only soothes, we must preach more like Jesus and less like our pop stars.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”