Sunday, December 6, 2009

THE GOSPEL HITS a2 TODAY: Notes from the Message

Today we launched a brand new series at a2 titled, "The Gospel."

(Special thanks to Elevation Church in Charlotte for the graphic. These guys rock!)

I loved preparing for the message. In fact, here are some awesome books / resources that absolutely ROCK when it comes to describing the beauty, mystery and power of the Gospel. Check the out:

Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll
The Reason for God by Tim Keller
God Stories by Andrew Wilson
Story by Steven James
The Gospel in Six Minutes by John Piper

Here are the expanded notes from this morning's message. By the way, I'm already psyched about next Sunday: "It's All About Jesus."

Legends of the Fall
The Gospel - Part 1

The word GOSPEL means “good news” and this good news is the news of “SINS forgiven, SHAME removed, BEAUTY restored and MEANING and PURPOSE rediscovered.” It's about God’s kingdom, God’s mission, and Jesus’ ultimate VICTORY over everything and anything that has set itself against the purpose and plan of God!

Andrew Wilson describes it like this: it’s an “epic LOVE STORY that begins with betrayal and ends with a wedding.”

What is the Gospel?

"The Gospel is the good news that JESUS CHRIST, the one and only Son of God, the one and only Righteous One, died FOR our SINS, IN our PLACE; then rose again, eternally triumphant over all His enemies, so that there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who believe, but only everlasting joy and everlasting life."

Romans 1:1-5 probably summarizes the gospel better than any other passage of Scripture in the Bible.

Romans 1:1-5 (ESV), Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures…

Romans 1:2-4 (NLT / ESV), God promised this Good News / Gospel long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. 3 The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, 4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace…

Two Crucial Truths About The Gospel:

1) It’s not something new. “…God promised this Good News long ago through His prophets in the holy Scriptures.”

2) It’s all about Jesus! “The Good News is about His Son…”

You can’t overstate the centrality of JESUS to the GOSPEL…

As Mark Driscoll says, “It’s ALL about Jesus! It’s ALWAYS about Jesus! It’s ONLY about Jesus!”

“The person and work of Christ are the rock upon which Christianity is built. If He is not WHO He said He was, and if He did not DO what He said He had come to do, the foundation is undermined and the whole superstructure will collapse. Take Christ from Christianity, and you disembowel it; there is practically nothing left. Christ is the center of Christianity; all else is circumference…” ~ John Stott, Basic Christianity, page 21.

Paul walks this out in the next two verses:

Verse 3b - “In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line…”

That phrase tells us at least three things:
  • Jesus was man.
  • Jesus was a Jewish man who was circumcised, kept the law and who could fulfill God's promises to Israel
  • Jesus was the rightful King, the heir to David's throne, the one the prophets said would come and rule over the nations on behalf of God.

Verse 4
“…and he was shown to be the Son of God in power…”

Paul is basically saying, “The Jewish construction worker who spoke with a southern accent… The Jewish guy who had brothers and sisters… The Jewish guy who had a JOB and paid TAXES, who went to the toilet and slept, who ate fish and cried, who cracked jokes and washed feet…”

“The Jewish guy who sneezed, coughed, yawned, burped, and got the hiccups, could also walk on water, step through walls, and raise the dead! That same Jewish man was shown to be the SON OF GOD in power…”

Verse 4“…he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead by a medium, a séance, an Ouija board or the “force” from Star Wars. He was raised by “…the power of the Holy Spirit…”

Verse 4b“…He is Jesus Christ our Lord.”

When Paul said, “Jesus is Lord,” that was basically tantamount to saying, “So CAESAR can’t be…”

Verse 5 - "...through whom we have received grace…"

The fact that Jesus is Lord might be good news for somebody, but it ought to spell DISASTER for lawbreakers and rebels like you and me, if it were not for the first phrase that shows up Verse 5, “…through whom we have received grace."

The word "grace" gets used 155 times in the New Testament – over 100 times in the writings of Paul, and almost ¼ of those times (24) in book of Romans alone…

The QUESTION is, “How? How can we be made right?”

According to Romans 3:23, SIN isn’t primarily a CRIME against man. It’s a CRIME against GOD.

Romans 3:23, "…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…"

If you’ve ever wondered what SIN is… If you’ve ever wondered what it means to “fall short” of God’s glory here’s a possible explanation.

While most of us think of SIN as doing wrong things, SIN always involves valuing something in the world MORE than GOD… It’s a belittling of God’s glory and the refusal to honor or glorify God… SIN is always a result of not putting SUPREME VALUE on the glory of God…

Romans 1:21-23, …although men knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give thanks to him… 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

The Message reads, “…they traded the glory of the God who holds the whole world in His hands for cheap figurines you can buy at a roadside stand…”

Tim Keller describes SIN in his book, The Reason for God.

“Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from [God].”

It is “…seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD…”

Here's how this plays out in our lives: Whenever we are given over to SIN, we are saying at that moment, “I’m more satisfied by ________ (gluttony, lust, greed, infidelity, pornography, whatever – you name it), than I am in Jesus Christ… I find my purpose, significance and identity in ________ (my job, an affair, some hobby, fling, food or some habit), instead of finding my purpose, significance and identity in Jesus.”

SIN affects every aspect of who we are…

Here's the next QUESTION: So, how does God maintain the value of His GLORY… How does God maintain His RIGHTEOUSNESS, HOLINESS and JUSTICE, but somehow demonstrate His love and turn around and JUSTIFY or MAKE RIGHT rebels and lawbreakers like you and me who have belittled and depreciated the GLORY of God?

According to Paul, God’s answer is the DEATH of Jesus Christ. The death of Jesus is a DECLARATION of the VALUE God puts on His GLORY, and the HATRED God has for SIN and cheap substitutes, and the LOVE God has for rebels and lawbreakers like you and me…

Romans 3:23-24 (NIV), …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Romans 3:25 (NLT), For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.

“The essence of sin is we human beings substituting ourselves for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for us. We…put ourselves where only God deserves to be; [but] God…puts Himself where we deserve to be.” ~ John Stott quoted by Tim Keller in The Reason for God, page 195

Another QUESTION: Someone might ask, “But Chris, why did Jesus have to die?”


• God is HOLY, RIGHTEOUS and JUST and without any SIN.

• God made us HOLY and without and SIN.

• SIN ultimately results in DEATH.

• Jesus is SINLESS.

• WE are SINFUL.

• JESUS became our SIN.

This is one of the most amazing and horrific aspects of what occurred on the cross. On the cross, Jesus became the most ugly, wicked, defiled, evil, corrupt, rebellious and hideous thing in all creation.

According to Mark Driscoll, “In that moment, Jesus became a homosexual, alcoholic, thief, glutton, addict, pervert, adulterer, coveter, idol worshipper, whore, pedophile, self righteous [Pharisee] and whatever else we are.”

The Reformer Martin Luther called this, “…the GREAT EXCHANGE …”

Isaiah 53:6 (NLT), “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
 We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
 Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV), God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

• Jesus died FOR US.

This is what theologians call the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement… it basically means Jesus died FOR our sins, IN our place

Closing: (I borrowed these ideas from an essay by Mark Driscoll.)

The great reformer Martin Luther rightly said that, as sinners, we are prone to pursue a relationship with God in ONE of TWO WAYS. The first is RELIGION and the second is the GOSPEL. The two are ANTITHETICAL in every way.

RELIGION says that if we obey God, God will love us and accept us. The GOSPEL on the other hand says, “God LOVES us unconditionally, and I’m accepted because of what Christ has done – therefore I OBEY.”

RELIGION says that the world is filled with GOOD people and BAD people… Your behavior and works determine which camp you’re in… The GOSPEL, on the other hand says, “…that the world is filled with BAD PEOPLE who are either repentant or unrepentant.”

RELIGION says that you should TRUST IN what you DO as a good moral person… But the GOSPEL says that you should trust in the perfectly sinless life of JESUS because HE ALONE is the only good and truly moral person who will ever live…

The GOAL of RELIGION is to get STUFF from GOD like health, wealth, insight, power, and control. But the GOAL of the GOSPEL is not getting stuff from God, but rather GOD HIMSELF as the ULTIMATE GIFT given to us by GRACE…

RELIGION is about what I have to DO. The GOSPEL is about what Jesus has already DONE.

RELIGION sees hardship, problems, trials and pain in life as punishment from God. The GOSPEL sees hardship, problems, trials and pain in life as a sanctifying affliction that reminds us of Jesus’ sufferings and is used by God in love to make us more like Jesus.

RELIGION is about ME. But the GOSPEL is about JESUS.

RELIGION leads to an UNCERTAINTY about and INSECURITY in my standing before God because I never know if I have DONE ENOUGH to please God… The GOSPEL leads to CONFIDENCE and ASSURANCE about my standing before God because I’m TRUSTING in the finished work of JESUS on my behalf.

Finally, RELIGION ends in either PRIDE (when you make the list, try to please God, be a good person, earn your salvation and stand back and think, “Hey! I’ve done a good job…”) or DESPAIR (because I continually fall short of God’s commands). But the GOSPEL leads to humble and confident JOY because of the power of JESUS at work FOR me, IN me, THROUGH me, and sometimes IN SPITE of me.

I, for one, am betting the farm on THE GOSPEL..
I’m banking everything on Jesus…

Next Sunday: It's All About Jesus
The Gospel - Part 2

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