Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What is the Gospel?

Do words mean things? Of course they do.  How important is it to have a proper biblical understanding of the biblical words we use?  Let me give an example by way of an experience I had while earning my masters degree in a conservative bible college.

In one of my classes we had an adjunct professor teaching a class on leadership philosophy. During the class the professor was going into great detail about the missional church that he was part of. He told of how his missional church worked to purchase a local cafe for the downtown artists in Seattle, Washington. He spoke of the tremendous effort that was put into “reaching” these postmodern artists. He spoke of the many facets of missional work and the commands in Scripture to show mercy and compassion towards the lost.

This went on for some time…until I raised my hand and asked, "when did you share the gospel with these postmodern artists?"  Which lead to a discussion, or an almost discussion on the gospel…which I thought was a pretty important topic to discuss. 

Let me take you a little further into our discussion…I noted to the professor that in sharing the gospel with my Roman Catholic father-in-law…that while we used the same words our understanding of those words were as far as the east is from the west. While we both talked about justification by faith, grace, sin, and divine judgment, it would seem that we were reading from two different bibles.

My point was that we can be using the same words but have two entirely different understandings of those terms and words. For my efforts to define the term gospel I was publicly rebuked by the professor and told to “get off my high horse.”

So, what is the gospel? This should be the question that fuels our passion and drives our Christian lives. We have to know what the bible teaches about the gospel so that we can proclaim it with accuracy and clarity. Our lives should be consumed with having our understanding informed by what the Scriptures teach concerning the gospel…our understanding of the gospel must grow out of Scripture and not out of some un-biblical system of theology. All that should ultimately matter to us is what does God’s word say?

I’ll say this, the gospel is both narrow and wide…let me give you the heart and soul of the gospel (the narrow)…it is found in 1 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 gospel is Christ. The gospel will always be Christ…his work…his sacrifice…his grace…his reaching the lost, depraved, and sin-stained sinner.

Listen to the words of our old friend Charles Spurgeon on this matter:

Let this be to you the mark of true gospel preaching - where Christ is everything, and the creature is nothing; where it is salvation all of grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit applying to the soul the precious blood of Jesus."

The gospel call that we see in the N.T. was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, it was more than saying a prayer or a making a decision…it was a call to repent of sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul tells us that the gospel = power…the Greek word is dynamite, see Romans 1:16:

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.

Christian, do not be duped by “another gospel,” as Paul told the saints in Galatia not to be fooled by another gospel even if an angel came down from heaven and preached it (Galatians 1:8)…don’t listen, run, and run fast and far.

Let me close with wise word from R.C. Sproule:

“I think the greatest weakness in the church today is that almost no one believes that God invests His power in the Bible. Everyone is looking for power in a program, in a methodology, in a technique, in anything and everything but that in which God has placed it—His Word. He alone has the power to change lives for eternity, and that power is focused on the Scriptures.”

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

God's Unchanging Law

The moral law of God as contained in the Ten Commandments is alive and enforceable today in our 21st century era of moral relativism. This statement is anathema to our culture and to those who oppose any moral absolutes.  The Apostle Paul tells us in chapter one in the book of Romans that a society can apostate and slide into a black hole of apostasy when God's law is pushed to the side and marginalized.

But what about an individual? can a person ignore the moral law of God without suffering the same fate? Can any person harden their heart and sear their own conscience without also sliding down the black hole of nothingness?

We as Christians know that the whole world system is directed and under the power and influence of Satan (Ephesians 2:2). He has blinded the minds of the lost (2 Corinthians 4:4). He works to keep unbelievers in spiritual darkness.

This wold's system with all of its philosophies, ideologies, and religions are under the direction of the prince of the power of the air...Satan. As we analyze why moral relativism is alive and well in the 21st century we don't have to look to far...the deceiver and the enemy of God is at work in our educational systems, in our governments, and yes, even in our churches.

But for God's people the moral law of God is a lamp to their feet and a light for their paths Psalm (119:105). The moral law of God as contained in the Ten Commandments is an absolute standard of will never change or equivocate....this is where the child of God plants his God's unchanging moral law.

Listen to a wise man from the of our former presidents on the importance of God's moral law:

“The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount…If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State.”
Harry S. Truman

It is reassuring for the believer to know that God is not changing his mind from generation to generation. His law is fixed and permanent.

Here's another voice from the past on the surety and steadfastness of God's moral law:

“Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral law is written on the tablets of eternity.”
John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton

I would encourage the believer to go back to the moral law of God and devour it, love it, nurture it, and thank God for it. God's law is good, clean, pure, and holy.

The Renewing of the Mind

I've have written in the past on the life of the mind. I cannot stress enough the importance for the Christian to develop the life of ...