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Monthly Archives: April 2014

What is the Gospel?

             The word gospel is used ninety nine times in the NASB. The Greek word that is translated into gospel comes in two forms. It is either used as the noun eungelion that literally means good news or as the verb euangelizeo referring to the announcer of good news.

The gospel or the good news is specifically about Jesus. The Angel of the Lord came to Joseph and encouraged him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The Angel of the Lord said to Joseph in regards to this child Mary miraculously conceived, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21). If the message is not centered in and on Jesus and His work of redemption on the cross it is not a true Gospel.

The term gospel is used with many references and descriptions in the New Testament. It is called the gospel of grace in Acts 20:24, the gospel of the kingdom in Matthew 4:23, 9:35, 24:15, the gospel of peace in Ephesians 6:15, and an eternal gospel in Revelation 14:6. However, the gospel is clearly rooted in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mark introduced his gospel as, “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Paul in his introduction of the book of Romans, which is a declaration of the gospel, calls the gospel, “the gospel of His Son.” (Romans 1:9).

Jesus being born of a virgin as the Son of God was uniquely qualified to be the savior of the world. He was also uniquely qualified to be the atoning sacrifice for sin because of His sinless nature and the fact that He fulfilled all righteousness. For this reason Jesus is the only means to salvation. Jesus Himself said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Paul told the church of Corinth that he declared unto them the gospel. He then went on to tell them exactly what the gospel was. He said in I Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” The work of the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul said that this message was of first importance, meaning that it should be the priority in our lives. Apart from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ there is no good news. Apart from the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus all humanity would stand hopelessly lost condemned in their sins awaiting eternal damnation.

The fact of the gospel is not the good news in and of itself. Just knowing the fact of the person of Jesus and the fact of the works of Jesus do not save us. The gospel becomes the good news for our lives when we allow it to have an impact on our lives through faith in who Jesus is and what He has done. Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior should change every area of our lives as we make it of first importance to us.

The gospel fist impacts our lives for today. Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” When we receive Jesus as our savior He comes to live within us empowering us to live for Him allowing us to reap the benefits of a relationship with God as a child or God, a joint heir in Christ Jesus, a holy nation and a royal priesthood. Jesus gives us life today, and not ordinary life that simply exists, He gives us abundant life. Certainly no one should want to die without knowing Jesus as their Lord and Savior. They will be eternally condemned to hell if they do. However, if one were to live to be one hundred and twenty years old he shouldn’t want to live even a moment separated from the abundant life that Jesus freely offers.

The fact still remains that we will not live in these fleshly vessels forever. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.” If we die physically without knowing Jesus as our savior we will then be judged for our sins. The punishment for our sins is eternity separated from God in hell. However, those who have accepted Jesus as their savior will not be judge for their sins. The impact of the cross has blotted out our sins and removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We will live for eternity in the paradise of heaven with the Lord. This truly is good news. A good news worthy of accepting, and a good news worthy of sharing.

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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Proclaiming the Gospel is an Act of Love

The ultimate act of love is seen in the act of God so love the world. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God didn’t wait for us to change our wicked ways and then turn to Him. Apart from the power of the blood of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit we can’t turn to God. Apart from the work of God we would never even want too. Philippians 2:13 says, “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

We did not choose to love God, He chose to love us. I John 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” He chose to love us despite the fact that we were living in rebellion against Him. He loved us enough to pay the price for our sins on the cross of Calvary, suffering greatly in humiliation and anguish knowing that His sacrifice would purchase redemption of sin and reconcile us into a right relationship with Him. We love the Lord today because He first loved us.

Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus demonstrated His love towards us by laying down His life. As a result of the cross God also requires us to lay down our lives. Not as a dead sacrifice, but as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Because of the mercies of God, which is the act of Jesus on the cross, we are urged to give our lives as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God.

Jesus told us to preach the gospel to all creation. In order to do this we must sacrifice. We will sacrifice our time, our energy, and sometimes our money. We may think that the world is wicked and cruel and therefore is not worthy of my sacrifice. But, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we worthy of Jesus sacrifice?” Absolutely not! Fortunately for us, God didn’t give us what we deserve; instead, He gave us grace and mercy-because of His love. We to are called to demonstrate grace, mercy, and love to a hostile and often rejecting world. We as Jesus did, are to overlook the hostility and rejection of the world in love, hoping to win a few for the Lord.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). God loves the world and everyone in it. Does He love their ways? Of course not. This is why He sent His Son to die on the cross and save them from their sins empowering them to repent and live for Him. Paul writes in Romans 10:14-15, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?  How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” The feet of those who carry the gospel to the unsaved are beautiful to God. They are carrying the good news of Jesus salvation to the world in which God loves so they can hear, and therefore believe. But how will they hear unless we love them enough to go and tell. By telling we carry on the ultimate act of love-God’s sacrificial love.

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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From Generation to Generation

             In the Great Commission Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations. A disciple is someone who commits the entirety of their life to the ways of the teacher. Their goal is to reflect the teacher in every way. A disciple without question lives in obedience to the teacher. To make a disciple of the Lord we must begin by evangelizing them. If they so choose to commit their life to Jesus they become His disciple.

Jesus is the teacher. If we are His disciples we must live in obedience to Him. One of the very clear teachings of Jesus was that we are to preach the gospel to the whole world. (Matthew 24:14, 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, Acts 1:8). If we choose not to live in obedience to the teacher we are unfaithful and disobedient disciples. Living in disobedience to Jesus is sin. Therefore, choosing not to share the gospel is a sinfully rebellious act of disobedience.

The 1st century church clearly took this teaching to share the gospel as a non optional act of obedience to their master. The Christians of the 1st century were harshly persecuted. Many of them suffered in horrendous ways. Many of them, just as Steven, lost their lives because of their faith in the Lord. Despite the horrendous treatment of Christians in the 1st century, Christianity grew rapidly. It grew rapidly in spite of the persecution because the Christians of the day were faithful to evangelize the world in which they lived. Even the fear of death did not prevent the spreading of the gospel from those who set in their hearts and minds to be faithful to the Lord.

Jesus also taught us in the great commission that once we make disciples we are to teach them all that Jesus commanded. We need to be faithful in teaching new believers the truths of the word of God and walk with them to show them the way of the Master. We need to make it clear to new believers that they are responsible to share the same gospel that just saved them. We need to teach them that this is required of the Lord.

Too often we don’t think new converts are ready to serve because they are too young in their faith. Let us not forget that Paul stayed as little as two weeks in certain cities leaving the new converts to oversee the newly started churches. I am thoroughly convinced that we need to let new converts start sharing their faith immediately, while the zeal of their fresh fire of conversion is stirring their hearts. I am also convinced that once they see what God can and will do in their lives through their obedience that the fire will stay fresh and continue to grow, driving them deeper in their service and devotion to the Lord.

Remember as well, new converts that are previously unchurched usually have a whole host of unchured and unevangelized people within their inner circle. They have a mission field of friends and associates that traditionally is much more vast than that of the churched folk. Certainly, we are not to leave them alone to this task. We are to walk with them through it. This is true discipleship.

For the most part we teach today that if you are a good Christian you go to church and you tithe. If you are a real good Christian you will go to Sunday School and Sunday evening service. If you are a phenomenal Christian you will go to prayer meeting and give to missions from time to time. This type of thinking is killing the church in our modern world. Should we be doing these things? Yes, all of these things are important and yes we should participate in them. At the same time we need to teach what Jesus commanded as non optional and that anything else is sin.

We need to rise up each generation of new believer to preach the gospel to all creation starting where they are at from the moment of their conversion. When witnessing becomes the norm of the church we will win this world to the Lordship of Jesus. Paul took Timothy under his wing as a son in the faith and taught him to be a man of God with a sincere faith. Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy knowing he was about to die for his faith to encouraging Timothy to carry on in his service to the Lord. He invited Timothy to “join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God.” (II Timothy 1:8). If we do not teach the younger generation and the new converts to carry the gospel light into this dark world, then who will carry it when we pass on? But, if we teach witnessing and discipleship as Jesus taught us it will be passed down from generation to generation just as it is biblically mandated.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2014 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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As we go

The word preach means to proclaim. The literal meaning is to harold, or to proclaim publicly. There are two types of preaching commanded in the bible, pastoral preaching, and gospel preaching. Although pastoral preaching can, and should, be done almost anywhere it is directed to the church for the edification of the church. Although gospel preaching is directed toward the lost, it too should hold a prominent place in the preaching ministry at the church.

Preaching the gospel within the church serves two great purposes. First at almost every church throughout the world there are almost certainly going to be lost people who attend the worship service. There is a high possibility that there may be lost church members that are active and involved. I know pastors, deacons, and Sunday School teachers who were saved as pastors, deacons, and Sunday School teachers.

Paul said in I Corinthians 15:1, 2, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.” Paul writing to the church of Corinth said that there are some in the church that genuinely received the gospel and are saved and that there is at least a possibility that there are some who believed in vain and are not saved. Although it is not our job to judge, we must be aware that there is a great possibility that there are some in the church who believed in vain and are therefore lost. Therefore, the gospel should regularly be preached within the church.

When one asks the question, where should preaching take place, the majority of people, church and unchurched alike, will say within the church. And, clearly it should. However, the church is not the only place that gospel preaching should take place. We find in the  gospels Jesus preaching to the masses such as the sermon on the mount, we also find Jesus proclaiming the truth of God’s Word in homes such as Simon the Pharisee, and we even see Jesus sharing the gospel individually to Nicodemus.

Likewise, in Acts we find Peter preaching the gospel to the masses in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, Paul preaching the gospel to the masses in Synagogues and on Mars Hill, and Philip preaching the gospel to the cities in Samaria. We also see in Acts Peter proclaiming the gospel in Cornelius’s house where his whole household was saved and Philip individually shared the gospel with the Ethiopian eunuch who accepted the message and was baptized.

When Jesus gave to us the great commission He said “go therefore.” The wording in the original language is, “as you go.” As you are on your journey of life, wherever you are and wherever you go, as you go, make disciples and teach them all that Jesus commanded them. The 1st century church took this command seriously. They started in Jerusalem and within 75 years of the birth of the cross they had taken the gospel to Judea, Samaria, and even the remotest parts of the earth.

Jesus gave to us a great illustration of “go therefore” in the parable of the seed and the sower. (Matthew 13:1-23). We see one who is sowing seed everywhere as he goes. Some fell on the road, some fell on the stony ground, some fell in the thorns, and some fell in the good soil. As a farmer he would have been a very bad steward of the seed. However, Jesus said that the seed was the Word of God. Therefore, this seed sower was a faithful servant and a great steward of the Word of God. We are bad stewards of the Word of God when we choose not to sow them as we go.

God has clearly called every believer to the task of proclaiming or heralding the gospel as we go. The question we must ask ourselves is, am I going to be a faithful steward of the gospel seed so that some may fall in the good soil, take root, grow, and bear fruit of their own?

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Devotional

 

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The Gospel Must be Communicated

Have you ever heard someone say “I allow my life to be my witness?” Clearly the bible teaches we should do good works. Titus 3:8 says, “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.” Jesus Himself said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). Godly living and good works should go hand in hand. However, good works alone is an insufficient witness.

Clearly we want the unreached world to see our good works so our Father who is in heaven will be glorified. However, good works alone can be dangerously misleading. The bible clearly states that we are not saved by our good works and that we are only saved by placing our faith in the works of Christ. (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Titus 3:5 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit”

If we fail to communicate the gospel, which is the works of Christ that lead to salvation, we can lead the lost world into believing that their good life and good works are sufficient to save them. They will think they simply have to be a good person and perform good works to get to heaven. Paul said of those who teach this perverted form of the gospel, which is really no gospel at all, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospelcontrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to beaccursed!” (Galatians 1:8, 9). This is usually not the intention of the one who desires his life to be a witness. However, this is the danger of living a good life and doing good works without communicating the gospel.

True biblical evangelism consists of communication. Jesus said in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” One cannot preach without communication. The word preach means to proclaim. We are commanded to proclaim the gospel to all creation. We are called to be witnesses of Jesus and his teachings to the whole world starting where we are at. (Acts 1:8).

In the Word of God we find two distinct calls to preach. Paul tells Timothy, who is the pastor of Ephesus, in II Timothy 4:2, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” This type of preaching is pastoral preaching. It is preaching directed to the church with instruction that leads to godly living.

The other type of preaching is what Jesus commanded in Mark 16:15-preach the gospel. It is evangelistic preaching, or proclaiming. It is preaching directed to the lost with instruction of how to be saved. The Greek word used here is euaggelizesthai. It means, to evangelize. To evangelize is to share, preach, proclaim the gospel. Euaggelizesthai is a verb. It is a word that demands action. This word is used fifty two times in the New Testament.

Preaching is God’s choice of the communication of His gospel message. I Corinthians 1:21 says, “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” Whether we are proclaiming to the masses or sharing with individuals we must communicate, preach, proclaim the clear message of the gospel. Every Christian is called to this task.

In the Word of God we find two ways that the gospel can, and should be, communicated. Clearly the first way is verbal. Acts 14:1 says of Paul and Barnabus, “In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks.” The spoken word is the most prominent form of communicating the gospel in the New Testament. However, it is not the only form of communicating the gospel.

John said in I John 5:8, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Luke also stated his purpose in writing the book of Luke in Luke 1:3, 4 where he wrote, “it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” A quick read through the book of Romans will show you that it is the greatest gospel tract ever written. Writing isn’t preaching, but it is a wonderful form of communication that God has given to us to share His gospel message.

Whether we choose to preach, proclaim, share the gospel through the spoken word or the written word we must clearly communicate it. We are called and should be compelled to proclaim the gospel with the lost with every available opportunity we have. Apart from the proclamation of the gospel the lost world stands condemned to an eternal hell. When we proclaim the gospel they may chose to reject. Regardless of their decision, we have given them an opportunity to make a decision by communicating the gospel. If we however reject the call to proclaim, we not only stand in rebellion against God, we also have to ask, how then will they ever have the opportunity to make the choice?

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Posted by on April 7, 2014 in Devotional

 

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Fool’s Gold

Fool’s Gold

“A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.” Proverbs 18:2

Shortly after the discovery of America, English treasure hunters raced to the new found coastline in search of riches. Many had more zeal than knowledge and skill. They often filled their boats with what they presumed would make them rich beyond their wildest dreams. Upon their return to England they would quickly be disappointed when they tried to sell what they presumed was gold. They would discover that they didn’t have gold that was greatly valuable; instead, they had a mineral called iron pyrites that was practically worthless. This mineral became known as fool’s gold. Most of these treasure hunters invested all they had to peruse these riches, only to be left with nothing, leaving them totally devastated.

I am often confronted with people who are full of pride in their opinions. They think that they have understanding and often are arrogant enough to speak on behalf of God. Unfortunately, most of these people are totally ignorant of God’s Word. I have even seen “experts” on news broadcasts that are obviously clueless as to what the bible actually says. They think their opinion is a treasure chest full of riches not understanding that their man made opinions are fool’s gold. If they invest their lives on these opinions rather than the true treasure of God’s Word they will be left devastated.

In reality our opinions do not matter. Only the truth of God’s Word truly matters. When Jesus returns the bible tells us He will judge the nations with the sward that comes out of His mouth. (Revelation 19:15.) That sward is the Word of God. (Hebrews 4:12.) God has given to us His word so we can know Him and His will for our lives. He has also given to us the Holy Spirit who not only inspired men to write the Word of God but will also teach it to us. Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-27, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” Not only do we need to hear the Word of God, we need to act on it.

In this world of false teachers who profess to be wise it is extraordinarily important to study God’s Word on our own. Yes, we are to sit under God called teaching and preaching as well but if we know the Word of God we will know if they are rightly dividing the word of truth and will not be left with fool’s Gold that is worthless and potentially devastating.

 

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2014 in Devotional

 

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