Faithlife Sermons

Discover the Gospel 5.2

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Turn to Titus 2:11. Remember, Titus was left in Crete to rebuke “carnal Christianity.” Carnal is living according to the flesh and not the Spirit. Carnality is rebellious, sinful and lacks respect and appreciation of God, His love and the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. Carnality has no place in the Church. Ultimately, it’s an issue of love, relationship, surrender and obedience, but that’s another sermon.
As we mentioned last week, I think Paul was encouraging them to rediscover the Gospel. “You heard the good news. You put your toes in a little, but you haven’t jumped in all the way. You haven’t allowed the fullness of the Gospel to overwhelm ….” Reembrace the sacrifice and love of Christ. Allow the truth of our faith not only to save but to change. Remember,
The Gospel is not only intended to save the world, but to change the world.
Change takes place as the Kingdom of God infiltrates our hearts and then through us infiltrates our world, and infiltrates the darkness bringing light, hope, love, salvation and new life.
Titus 2:11–12 ESV
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
1. The Gospel is about Incarnation.
God came in the flesh. In Jesus, we see God in action. And now in us people should see God in action.
2. The Gospel is about Inclusion.
1 Timothy 2:3–6 ESV
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
2 Cor. 5 tells us that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation -
We are to be on mission with God in saving the world. Therefore, we must live in such a way that the unsaved know the Gospel is for them.
The Gospel, the Cross is inclusive.
So, how does one live so that the unsaved know that the Gospel is for them? Not going to answer that now, but we will come back to it in later sermons. Just wanted to get the question in our heads. This would be a great discussion for a Connection Groups.
But, I will say this,
Part of the struggle with sharing the Gospel or living out the Gospel is the battle over behavior and ideology.
I don’t know if I’m right or wrong on this, but ...
Sometimes it seems like we focus so much on external behavior or ideology that we forget we are dealing with a systemic spiritual issue.
There is a reason why someone who chooses abortion over life; or liberalism over conservatism; or wickedness over righteousness.
When we forget there is a systemic spiritual issue, we can find ourselves attacking or hyper-focusing on behavior or ideology.
We hyper-focus or attack the effect, not the cause.
I don’t think that works too well when trying to convince someone they need saved, especially when there is no relationship with the person who’s being attacked or criticized.
If this is where we’re at, then our mission becomes more about convincing people they are wrong rather than convincing them they need Jesus. My concern here is that we can get into the mindset that people who agree with my values, don’t really need to be saved. Just because someone lines up with my values doesn’t mean they need Jesus any less than the person who doesn’t line up with my values.
For example: I am pro-life; pro Biblical marriage; pro 2nd Amendment, pro wall, pro Trump - and there are many people who share my values and we can get together, talk about how stupid everyone else is and if I’m not careful I can forget that not everyone who shares my values knows Jesus Christ as their Savior. And I can convince myself that it’s those who disagree with me - those are the people who really need Jesus. I can forget that people need Jesus, not because they don’t see the world like I do, but because everyone needs Jesus.
The grace of God appeared bringing salvation for all people because all people have a systemic spiritual issue that only the grace of God can cure.
I’ve shared this before but it’s very fitting and it doesn’t hurt to review. The systemic spiritual issue is:
A) The human condition - sin.
Sin or the sin nature is at the root of ungodly behavior and ideology. Because of sin and because all have sinned, all are guilty, enslaved, under God’s wrath and justice (not under anger - do not associate wrath with anger). We’re under condemnation and the penalty of death (physical and eternal - Hell). We’re separated from God, and we are less than what we were created to be and do. Sin kills, steals, and destroys. That’s the human condition.
What’s the solution to this system spiritual issue? The solution is not agreement with my values. It would make life easier … but that is no God’s mission and it’s not the solution.
The human condition is sin.
B) The heavenly cure - salvation.
Salvation is about grace, mercy, atonement, no condemnation, freedom, adoption, new life, eternal life, redemption, reconciliation of individuals and of the nations to God. Think of it like this - in the beginning, the world was upright. Then sin and death turned the world upside down. Salvation is putting the world right side up again. Salvation is undoing the curse.
Thus, the Cross of Jesus Christ, and His blood and His suffering and His death and His resurrection deal with this systemic spiritual issue - that is what we need to focus on - not just behavior and ideology.
The human condition is sin. The heavenly cure is salvation.
C) The higher call - sanctification.
We’ll talk more of this later, but sanctification is the call of God to a higher way of living. It deals with our sins, our character; it’s the process of conforming to the likeness of Christ, service, restoration, purpose and potential, empowerment ….
Now, I’m not saying that we ignore or don’t confront wrong behavior and wrong ideology. We can’t and we shouldn’t. However, our role as ambassadors for Christ is not to impose behavior modification on the unsaved and think we’ve done our Christian duty.
Let’s use homosexuality as an example - not harping on it, but it’s an easy illustration. Let’s say I have a friend who is gay. And after months or years of debate I convince him that marriage really is between a man and a woman. And then he marries a woman. What have I won? What have I accomplished? Yes, I did something good. We made a step in the right direction, but if we never get to the systemic spiritual issue … what good have I done?
Paul alludes to this issue in 1 Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 1:17 NLT
For Christ didn’t send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News—and not with clever speech, for fear that the cross of Christ would lose its power.
1 Corinthians 2:1–5 NLT
When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God.
Look, the challenge here is to remember that the reason why we deal with wrong behavior and wrong ideology is because of a systemic spiritual issue - sin. That needs to be our greater purpose, our greater goal, our greater mission. Our mission here at Sunnyside is to help people reach their full potential in Christ - and that begins with people knowing Christ as Savior - not merely adhering to a certain set or moral standards we approve of.
I wanted to wrap this up nice and pretty, but I’m not.
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