PROPOSITION: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only foundation, Jesus the only message, and by His grace we give our lives to the only work…the work of His kingdom.
- FIRST century Corinth had many gods, many religions, many philosophies about life.....there were many ways to god.
* You could chose your favorite god....and there were plenty to chose from.
* You could worship at your favorite temple....some offered pretty exotic celebrations.
* You could get together with other thinkers like you in the town square and argue your favorite philosophy.....quoting Plato and Aristotle.
- IT was acceptable to be broad minded....to keep an open mind on all subjects.
- IT was unsophisticated to become narrow in your thinking, and intolerant in your lifestyle, or preachy with your morality.
- DOES any of this sound familiar?
- THIS philosophy has made its way into the life of the Christian Church in North America.
- A FRIEND of mine just told me about a book he is reading in which a non-Christian sociologist examines the beliefs and practices of people attending ‘growing churches’ in America.
* He interviewed a young woman who has just joined a lively, growing Pentecostal church in one of our major cities.
* When asked why she chose this church, she replied that “she enjoyed the worship and feeling God’s presence and that it blended well with her Yoga and Buddhism.”
- THERE is a whole lot of blending going on...and the reason is that the pulpit has abandoned the basics and has gone to tickling the ears of its audience with what it wants to hear.
- I AM not here to offend or insult you.
- BUT the pastors and I are here to confront you with the living God and His unchanging Word…the Truth!
- AND I have confidence that you can handle the Truth and want the Truth.
- TRUE Christianity has always had a rough time of it in a society that puts a premium on tolerance.....especially when that tolerance does not extend to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- WE are living in times just like the days of Paul when he wrote to the believers in Corinth.
- YOU see there is only ONE Gospel.
- NOW, if you or I had been the ones to say that, we might be guilty of pride or judgmentalism or intolerance.
- BUT it is not you or me saying that there is only ONE Gospel.....that is what the Bible says.
- IN Acts 4, the Jewish Sanhedrin was upset because people in Jerusalem were being healed and saved by the thousands....and turning from Judaism to Jesus.
- AND they had imprisoned Peter and beaten them....and when they questioned Peter and John about the authority they had to be doing and saying what they were....and Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said concerning the Gospel and Jesus,
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
- THERE is only ONE Gospel.
- PAUL writes to the believers in Ephesus and says,
“There is one body and one Spirit-- just as you were called to one hope when you were called--(5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism; (6) one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)
- THE apostle Paul got really adamant about the subject with the believers in the Galatian churches.
- THEY had strayed from the Gospel, so he writes in Galatians 1:6-7,
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel--(7) which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)
- TO show how strong his feelings are on the subject, in the next verse he writes,
“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:8)
- IN Romans 1:16, Paul explains to the believers in Rome his unswerving commitment to this one Gospel. He writes,
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…”
- THERE is only ONE Gospel, only ONE way to God, only ONE way to be saved....and that is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and a life spent following Him.
- THAT is the theme of the first eleven verses of I Corinthians 15 (pg 1139).
ii. one foundation
- VERSE 1 says,
“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you...”
- THE NIV translation, “I want to remind you...”, is too soft.
- THE literal translation of the Greek there is, “I want to make known emphatically...”
- THIS is a subject about which the apostle Paul is dogmatic and passionate.
- THERE is no room here for compromise, no room for tolerance, no room for dialogue.
- LET’S go on with verse 1,
“...it is the gospel which you received and on which you have taken your stand.
- THE first principle concerning the Gospel (and I find three) in this passage is that the Gospel is our ONE foundation.
- EVERYTHING else in this world will pass away, and is therefore unreliable as a place to take your stand.
* Your job.
* Your house.
* Your car.
* The city of Seattle.
- THERE is coming a day when everything that can be shaken will be shaken, says the writer of Hebrews (Hebrews 12:27).
- AND when that day comes, and the shaking is personal or national, or global.....what is there that will not be shaken?
- THE Gospel on which you have taken your stand.
- LET’S go on to verse 2,
“By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (I Corinthians 15:1-2)
- THIS is the Gospel, the good news about Jesus, that saves you....
* From sin.
* From your past.
* From your self-destructive ways.
* From the judgment of God and from hell.
- NOTICE that there is a condition in verse 2...“If you hold firmly to the Gospel..”
- IT is ONE foundation, but you must hold firmly to that foundation and not move off another direction.....or your believing will have been in vain.
iii. one message
- THIS Gospel is the only ONE foundation for our lives.
- AND here is the second principle that I see in this passage.....this Gospel has only ONE message.....and here it is,
- VERSE 3,
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (4) that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (5) and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. (6) After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. (7) Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, (8) and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (I Corinthians 15:3-8)
- THE faith that saves us is not based on feelings, on good works, on some church or religion, or human leader......it is based on the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- THAT is the ONLY message of the true Gospel.
- IT is the resurrection of Jesus that Paul spends the most time with here.
- THE resurrection of Jesus is the seal of the Father on Christ’s finished work....the Father’s final approval on the saving work of His only Son.
- NO other religion in the history of the world has an empty tomb.
- WHICH is why the resurrection of Jesus has been under such attack.
* Some say that Jesus really did not die, He just fainted on the cross because He was so weak.
• But if that were the case, don’t you think it would have taken more than a couple of night’s sleep to have Him walking, talking and eating with His disciples?
* Some say that the disciples stole His body and made up a lie about His resurrection.
• The problem with that theory is the great number of disciples who witnessed Jesus’ resurrection...and who died horrible deaths maintaining the truth of the resurrection.
• Professor Greenleaf of Harvard Law School wrote about the claims of the disciples concerning Jesus resurrection:
“The resurrection story they asserted with one voice (not one traitor) everywhere, not only under the greatest discouragements, but in the face of the most appalling conditions that can be presented to the mind of man.”
- JOSEPHUS, a non-Christian historian, between 50 and 115 AD . . . only 20 years after Jesus actually lived, died and rose again. . . wrote:
“When Pilate had condemned him to the cross, those who had loved him from the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive in the third day......And even now, the race of Christians, so named from him, has not died out." (Written 100 A.D.)
- THE reality of Jesus’ resurrection is the basis of our faith.
- IT is the message of the Gospel.
- JESUS is alive and presently at the right hand of the Father . . . in His throne room . . . as the first installment of our resurrection.....yours, and mine.
- THE reality of Christ’s resurrection is established in Scripture and in the historical record.
- IT is the reason for our hope in the face of any kind of trial.
- THERE is only ONE message to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
iv. One work
- SO, the Gospel gives us ONE foundation to live on.
- THE Gospel has only ONE message.
- AND, lastly, the Gospel is really our only ONE work in the world.
- IN verse 9 Paul writes,
“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (10) But by the grace of God I am what I am..”
- WHAT is that?
- PAUL is a worker of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- HOW does He do that?
- READ on....(10b)
“...and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (11) Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.” (I Corinthians 15:9-11)
- GOD’S grace is the motivation and the power to Paul in his one work is to proclaim this one Gospel....because it is the power of God unto salvation.
- BUT right next to that recognition of God’s grace is Paul’s unashamed acknowledgment that he worked harder than the rest of the apostles in proclaiming this Gospel.
- GRACE and hard work, side by side.
- YOU spend your life in what is most important to you.
- I THINK that the church sometimes is too apologetic (I am too apologetic) when the ministry around here takes a lot of your time, energy and resources.
- IN reality....this is our life!
* I don’t mean the organizational legal entity called Westgate Chapel.
* I don’t mean the building.
- BUT in as much as Westgate Chapel is organized for......
* Pursuing God’s presence.
* For worship.
* For the study of God’s Word.
* For establishing everyone in relationships for mutual encouragement and fellowship.
* For reaching the hurting and needy around us with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
* For evangelizing the world.
- AS long as that is what we are organized for.....then with God’s grace it is consistent with His Word that we work harder than anyone else in the process.
- WELL, you say, I have a life outside of Westgate Chapel.
- NO you don’t.
- READ the Book of Acts…the life of this thing called the Church of Jesus Christ.
- THE Church of Jesus is the life and work of God.
- GOD has invested everything He is and has into this thing called Church.
- THAT is why Jesus said,
“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” (John 5:17)
- WHAT is the one thing God is doing? He is building His Church.
- IN John 4:34 Jesus said,
“My food...is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
- GRACE and hard work.
- I DON’T know of any other way the Gospel has ever been spread around the world.
- THAT is because it is our only ONE work.
- THIS is the message that will increasingly get us into trouble in this world.
- IT is intolerant, because...
* There is NO other foundation.
* There is NO other message.
* There is NO other work.
- THERE is no salvation in any other Name.
- WITH eternity at stake, there is no margin for error.
- THERE is no room for blending your own variety of a ‘spiritual life.’
- THE stakes are too high for you to pursue some hybrid.