Sermon 2017 02 12

12.02.17 AM Sermon - "The Gospel of God"

 

The apostle Paul is eager to preach the gospel to the Christians at Rome.

This is because he believes it is essential that the Christians in Rome are fully grounded in the gospel.

For Paul, the gospel is their foundation for their faith, and not only the foundation but the very essence of their faith.

The gospel is not only where they begin, but also where they reside.

They are not to move on to other matters - but to stay with the gospel and go deeper into it.

Paul states how his commission to preach the gospel takes him across the world and therefore the gospel goes with him, and likewise crosses all barriers : Linguistic, Cultural, Class.

Jews and Gentiles, Greek, non-Greeks (Barbarians), wise and foolish.

And in the verses that we look at this morning we hear Paul sharing four things about the gospel of Christ.

(v16-17) "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

 

1. A gospel that we need not be ashamed of

Paul writes: (v16) "I am not ashamed of the gospel"

The gospel is the good news about Jesus.

That he came and lived and died for our sins, was buried but rose again on the third day, defeating death. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Following this, after appearing to many in his resurrected body, he ascended to be at his Father's side, and sent his Holy Spirit to be with us and empower us for service.

Jesus was God present amongst us, present as a human being - fully God and fully man.

And this gospel of grace, extraordinary though it may be, and incredible thought it may sound, is not news that Paul is ashamed of, and we should not be ashamed of either.

As we baptise Tony and welcome him and Ben into Membership - as they confess their faith in One God, Father, Son and Spirit, and Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord - they are declaring their allegiance to God and His plans and purposes for their lives - together with the rest of God's people.

We are not to be ashamed of Jesus, Paul is saying.

Indeed, being ashamed of Jesus and his gospel - that is turning away from Him and failing to receive him - has dire consequences. Jesus himself says (Mark 8:38) "If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (also Luke 9:26)

Because of the gospel, God is not ashamed to be identified with us - it is through Christ that we can encounter God and be in relationship with him - to know him as our heavenly Father.

The writer to the Hebrews speaks about those who placed their faith in God and took him at his word - believed his promises (Hebrews 11:16) "… they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."

And of how through Jesus Christ we are made to be one family: (Hebrews 2:11) "Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters."

 

It is clear that there are things that we should be ashamed of, and should feel a sense of shame about.

The sins that separate us from God and his family.

Paul in chapter 6 of Romans speaks of those things (sins, setting our minds on earthly things and earthy appetites) that we should be ashamed of because they lead to death. (see also Philippians 3:19)  

 

He reminds the Christians in Corinth that (2 Corinthians 4:2) "we have renounced secret and shameful ways." And those in Ephesus (Eph 5:12) "It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret."

And we read in the book of Revelation about the heavenly city (Revelation 21:27) "Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life."

Sin separates us from God and from the life that God has for us.

And the greatest sin, the unforgiveable sin, is the sin that by definition is unforgiveable - the rejection of God's forgiveness through Christ - the only way to be saved.

God appeals to us by the Spirit and beckons us near to respond to his gospel of grace, but we can harden our hearts and deaden our conscience towards Him.

And the apostle Peter writes about the importance of the conscience, and keeping it clear.

(1 Peter 3:16) You are to be those who are "keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."

Paul writes (2 Cor 4:2) "… we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God."

So it is not us that should be ashamed of the gospel, but those who come against the gospel of God should be ashamed - because they rebel against the God that seeks to save them.

Peter continues (1 Peter 4:16) "…if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."

To bear the name of Christ - to be a Christian is not a shameful thing - but an honour.

To bear the gospel of Christ is also an honour. As the Apostle Paul writes to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:8) "Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God." (see also 2 Timothy 2:15)

 

The gospel leads to life and hope and love (even in the midst of suffering or persecution) - we need not be ashamed of the gospel.

Romans 5:5 "And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

Romans 9:33 "As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.” (also Romans 10:11)

The Psalmist agrees (Psalm 34:5) "Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame." - echoing the glory that Moses' face showed when he had come down from God's presence.

Do not be ashamed of Jesus in your words and your life before others - because God is able to work powerfully through such a gospel if we, in good conscience, hold it out before others.

 

2. A gospel of  God's power

Paul writes that the gospel (v16) "is the power of God"

The good news about Jesus is transformative. Jesus changes lives … for the better!

The gospel can change your life - a community, a nation. If we embrace Jesus, then God's power will be unleashed amongst us. The power to love, to forgive, to worship, to witness, to pray for the sick and possessed, to seek justice for the oppressed.

How we need to know God's power, the power that comes from proclaiming and receiving the gospel.

We see how when Jesus stepped into this world, he is described (Luke 24:19) “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people."

And how the apostles continued what he had begun through the power of the Holy Spirit amongst them (Acts 4:33) "With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all."

How individuals acted with God's power - God's power accompanying the proclaiming of the gospel.

We read of the example of how Stephen (Acts 6:8) "a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people."

The gospel is good news with great power. Power to change, to heal, the release, to save …

 

3. A gospel bringing salvation

Paul writes that "the gospel … is the power of God that brings salvation …"

Responding positively to the good news about Jesus enables us to be right with God.

It is only through Jesus Christ that we can experience a restoring of a right relationship with God, that we can receive forgiveness and new life in Christ.

There is no other way, other than through Jesus Christ and him crucified.

The cross of Christ is seemingly absurd to those who think themselves wise and learned, and shameful to those who consider themselves religious and holy enough for God, and unnecessary to those who trust in their own good works to get them into God's good books.

The cross is a crossroads - it presents for us the great exchange - where we give away our sin, and are gifted freely with His righteousness.

(v17) "For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”"

Here is the cross of Christ - a gift of Grace. God's undeserved favour bestowed upon us as Jesus takes our sin and shame upon himself - taking our place in death and separation from God.

Our Sin goes on him, and we are forgiven completely.

A right standing with God is ours, because of Him, not because of us.

The accomplishment is His and His alone.

We have not earned our way into God's good books, we have not achieved our own salvation but our religiosity, we have not followed a program of betterment or a series of steps for enlightenment.

The gospel of the cross of Christ is a revealed one - revealed by God - as he opens our eyes and ears and minds and hearts.

(Isaiah 53:5)  "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed."

 

4. A gospel for all

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes …"

Everyone who believes. The gospel is proclaimed to all. Jesus is sent for be Saviour for all.

(John 3:16) "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but shall receive eternal life."

Just as all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23) and as a result all are spiritually dead; separated from God (Romans 6:23) so all need a Saviour, so Jesus is offered for all.

Not just a select few.

And who are we to pick and choose who we proclaim Christ and the gospel to?

Do we choose on the basis of our own judgements - you're not good enough for God!

Hear today - that this gospel is for you! And we are to respond by faith.

[Illustration: A train - the ticket is Jesus - get on the train!]

If you were to die tonight could you be sure that you were going to heaven? And why do you think that?

 

So today we hear the good news about Jesus.

A gospel that we need not be ashamed of, a gospel of real transformative power, a gospel that is able to save because Christ is able to save, and a gospel for all.

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6).

It may be that today you realise that you need to respond "Yes" to this gospel of grace shown towards you.

If you hear his voice today, do not harden your hearts, but respond here and now.

I will lead us in a prayer - and will ask that we all close our eyes.

If you want to ask Jesus into your life, here today, and be transformed - move from death to life, to repent of your sins, to turn from sin and turn to Him, then as I pray this prayer - pray it with me in your hearts.

And then I am going to ask if you have prayed it - to put your hand up in the air to indicate to me, whilst everyone still has their eyes closed, and I will be able give some literature to you as you continue your journey with God through Jesus Christ and with the presence of the Holy Spirit of God within your heart.

"Dear God, I know I’m a sinner,

I know I have rebelled against you and your love

I am sorry and I ask for your forgiveness.

I turn away from my sin and my rebellion.

I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son.

I believe that He died on the cross for my sin

I believe that you raised Him to life.

I want to trust Him as my Saviour and follow Him as my Lord.

I ask you would send your Holy Spirit to come and be with me.

From this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will.

I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen." 


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