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The Gospel

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I. Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

A. Aramaic, but Greek to Nicodemus.

− How man born when he is old?

− Enter second time into mother’s womb?

− Concept foreign in US “Christian” culture, even more in others

− Idea that in order to live, you must die, is foolishness to most.

B. My close encounter with the living Christ

− Radical, eye-opening, life changing, heart transforming

− Was adrift in a sea of self. Searched the world for contentment.

− Justified sin as my right in pursuit of happiness.

− Denied any power above own strong-willed abilities

− Confidence in myself, bursting with pride.

− Strived, nearly achieved rationalizing life, death w/o God.

− Still empty. God shaped hole, not filled by family, fun, fame.

− No amount of money, accomplishments, relationships satisfy.

C. Stand today, thanking God all grace

− Reached down into my wallow of sin, pulled me out.

− After years of plowing ground, precise time, reached out and said, “This is what you’ve been looking for.”

− Filled that hole in my heart.

D. Since then, walked with Lord.

− Not perfect walk, stumbled, struggled. Not without sin.

− Peace beyond understanding. Forgiven. Eternal life.

− But how did I get here? Not a single traumatic event

− 30 year journey according to God’s perfect purpose

− However, was a radical, supernatural event.

− A little journey through the Bible.

II. Ro 3:21-23 - all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

A. It all starts here. What is sin?

− Conjunction “and”, sin equated to falling short of glory of God

− The Bible is direct what is an abomination to God.

− Jesus guideline: “love with mind, heart, soul, and neighbor”

B. My intent not to convict anyone of their sin.

− HS more than capable of that

− But our culture tends to compare ourselves to the Jones’.

− No axe-murderers, Saddam, Hitlers, drug-cartels, slave trade.

− Generally nice people, particularly compared to those around

− “Doing pretty well compared to my neighbor.” Wrong person.

− Neighbor may be going to hell. Lots of nice people be there.

− Not between you and neighbor or pastor. Between you / God.

C. However, human reasoning…

− God is just, won’t send to hell, if reasonably good.

− Some believe, can please God with kindness and good deeds.

− Mistaken premise that man can please God, earn something.

− Ignore fact that ability to do any good comes only from God.

− But God spoke universe into creation.

− Tiny sandcastle vs planet earth?

− Isaiah - We are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.

D. The Bible clearly tells us how filthy all men are as sinners.

− Ps 143:2 “Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no one living is righteous.”

− In sin, addiction, attitude, think somehow clean selves,

− Think somehow “get right with God.”

− Mud-covered children in God’s house. No way clean selves.

− God told Jeremiah (and my son),

III. Ro 6:23 - Wages of sin is death, but gift of God is eternal life.

A. So where does this all leave us?

− “Wages” is what God owes us for sin. It is what we deserve.

− Death can mean spiritual death, a life apart from God.

− Also specifically means eternal separation from God in hell

− Unbelievers suffer conscious torment forever

− This is the wage we earned and deserve because of our sin.

B. Have you ever felt that God was distant - detached from you?

− Certainly you have, as have I, we all have felt that way

− Why? Our wrongdoing created gulf between us & God

− God is a righteous Judge, wrongdoing must be paid for!

C. Transition

− I don’t want to live in hell. Want heaven!

− Want heaven on earth now and heaven above when I die.

− Want kingdom of God.

IV. Jn 3:3 - unless one is born again, cannot see kingdom of God.

A. Jesus with Nic again,

− telling him bluntly what is required

− to achieve eternal life in heaven & peace of God on earth

− Like Nic, you may have no idea what means to be born again.

− May think know from what heard on television,

− But unless experienced the event, difficult to fully describe.

− However, can find Jesus’ meaning if continue study of Bible.

B. First need - understand what Jesus means by kingdom of God.

− Past, present, and future application.

− If don’t understand, interpretation of Scripture will be muddled and understanding unclear.

− Past - Jesus earth as Man, kingdom present on earth (Lk 10:9).

− Miracles / signs are sneak preview of kingdom in future state.

− Present - that presently not external but internal (Jn 17:21).

− Future - When Jesus returns, will see not only internal manifestations of kingdom, but external aspects as well (Is 11:6).

− Thus,

C. Now that we understand the kingdom, how become born again?

V. Jn 14:6 - I am the way, truth, the life. No one comes to Father

A. Pretty bold of Jesus.

− Doesn’t he know there are many ways God/heaven?

− Is he Condemning Hindu’s, Muslims, Buddhists? Well, yes.

− Contention - exclusivity. “You’re too narrow,” “I don’t mind you believing what you believe, but don’t say it’s the only way.”

− We don’t say this, but Jesus.

− “Narrow is the way which leads to life eternal, and broad is the path that leads to destruction,”

− For those seeking the way to heaven, seeking for truth, seeking for life, Jesus tells us it is all about him.

− NO ONE comes to the Father, NO ONE born again, NO ONE enters the Kingdom of God or heaven except through Jesus.

B. How did Jesus earn such a prestigious position?

− Remember Ro 6:23. sin=DEATH. Wages HAD to be paid.

− God perfectly just.

− Like a just judge, cannot let the convicted killer walk free.

− He must sentence him.

− All humanity must pay price

− Eternal death in hell, separation from God.

C. But God in his mercy and compassion had a better plan.

− God himself came down to earth in human form, that of Jesus.

− Lived perfectly sinless life, only man ever NOT deserve death,

− Willingly died, nailed to cross, to pay that debt for our sin.

D. Now you know why Jesus and the cross are so important.

− His life and death reconciled us with God.

− Only because of his free gift that we have access to God

− We are able to enter into the kingdom of God.

− No Jesus, no peace for man. No Jesus, no eternal life.

− With Jesus, we have forgiveness.

− Through Jesus, we can enter into God’s presence.

− Through Jesus can be born again.

E. No amount of work, penance, good behavior can earn peace with God and eternal life.

− All other religions same premise - must do something

− Struggling and striving somehow earn "Good Favor" of God!

− Tibetan "prayer wheel;" alms to poor; certain foods;

− Prayer, reincarnations - all attempts by man to reach God!

− However, Jesus is God’s attempt to reach out to mankind!

− Jesus taught very opposite.

F. All guilty of wrong and that our wrong separates us from God!

− Said nobody can earn way into Heaven!

− Other religions called "DO" religions!

− Problem: Nobody knows how many good things to do!

− Christianity = no one can ever do enough to earn heaven!

− Christianity can be called the "DONE" religion!

− Jesus has "DONE" what we could never do!

− Perfect sinless life, went to the cross to pay ultimate sacrifice

− Remember before He died? "It is finished!!"

− Agape love, voluntarily offered to be "perfect sacrifice"

− Our substitute, paying penalty we deserve, so we wouldn’t

VI. Ro 10:8-11 - confess with mouth, believe in heart will be saved

A. Difference “Law righteousness” and “faith righteous”

− Paul’s point is that you are saved by faith, not by works.

− But not faith that saves, but sacrifice of Jesus and HIS merit.

− Faith is just the instrument by which we lay hold of salvation.

− Until a person acknowledges own unrighteousness in light of divine and perfect righteousness, he will see no need for a Savior

− Will not see the need to be liberated from sin.

− Will not see his need for God’s own righteousness.

B. If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus…

− Not talking about confessing sins, important but

− Acknowledge Jesus is both Son of God and Lord of universe.

− Word “confess” here full of emotion and conviction.

− Deep, personal, abiding conviction that,

− Jesus is your own sovereign, ruling Lord, in whom alone you trust for salvation and submit.

− Requires brokenness. Broken from rebellion and self-reliance.

− This is God centered humility.

C. believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead

− Your inward conviction must match your outward confession.

− Why believe in your heart? Why not believe in your mind?

− Lord is after our heart first. “You shall love the Lord with all your heart and mind and strength and soul”.

− My mind can be swayed easily.

− Convinced about something, until get new set facts

− Change my mind. Opinion one day, flip-flop next.

− But if something in my heart, don’t change my mind daily.

− My heart doesn’t change so easily.

− So Lord says, “I want you to believe in Me with your heart—not simply rationally, but emotionally and intimately.”

D. Again reminded, centrality of Christ’s death and resurrection.

− Not enough to believe Jesus lived, good man, or was God.

− Requires acceptance of free gift, redemption unearned by us,

− Bought at price of cross, sealed by his victory over death.

VII. 2 Co 5:14-17 - Died for all, who live should live no longer

A. When we are born again, we are “justified.”

− Theological term accepted God’s forgiveness,

− Based on perfect sacrifice.

− Imputes HIS righteousness to our account.

− We are viewed as just, perfectly acceptable.

− However, just begins process of “sanctification,”

B. Sanctification - set apart, for his use, his purpose and glory.

− Gal 2:20 -

− It is grace that provides for our justification.

− Grace also provides for continuous process of sanctification.

− James 4:6, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’”

− Not walk in humility, not able to walk in fullness of grace

− Only other option is pride.

C. Options are to live by grace and dependence upon God, or to live by dependence upon self and other things.

− Bookstores, largest section, “self-help.”

− Misnomer. “Self-hinder.”

− Become hindered trying to help selves by listening to guidelines of world, rather than of the Word.

− We cannot help ourselves. We are a bankrupt resource.

− Flesh wants procedure, but Christ wants personal relationship.

− Not only born again by grace, but power that gives daily life.

− We should all strive to live day by day by grace.

D. 2 Peter 1:2-3

− explains how grace is multiplied in our lives.

− It is in the knowledge of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

− More know God of all grace, more grace is multiplied in lives

− It’s a relationship, not a procedure

E. if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

− New creatures. Not about behaviors, what we can or can’t do.

− About identity, description of essential being. Matter of heart.

− Not find help for our struggles by talking about life once had.

− That is our old life before Christ.

− Was a life that God took and nailed to the cross with Christ.

− What I was, but here is what God is calling me to, making into.

− Yes, we must take up cross daily, continually, follow him.

− Life of self-sacrifice.

− Troubles abound when our thoughts return to ourselves.

− Old man is dead. Fact. Died with Christ.

− But must RECKON it dead.

− Must understand, not your own, bought at a price.

− Bondservant Christ.

F. Do not want to make light of anyone’s struggles.

− Not suggesting lack of faith or question your salvation.

− All struggle. Human eyes, all fall short of glory of God.

− Our state until we receive our new bodies in heaven.

− What I do want to do is encourage you.

− I want my message to be edifying.

− I want you to view your life through the message of the cross.

G. Here is where so many pastoral teachers get it wrong.

− The victorious Christian life is not about us. It’s about Christ!

− Not about peace, happiness, prosperity.

− About the peace of God living in me.

− Self-esteem isn’t our answer, it is Christ esteem.

− About our utter inability to live the life I want to live for Christ

− Without complete surrender and utter reliance upon Him,

− About His grace, His sacrifice.

− About HS power in my life, day-by-day, moment-by-moment

VIII. Why am I going through all this? You know all this.

A. First, because our sin nailed Christ to the cross.

− His death redeemed us, or paid the price for our sin,

− Reconciled us with God, and gave us eternal life.

− Message of the cross, our need for a redeemer, must remain central to all that we do and teach.

− Hear many messages how joy may be filled, how can live victorious life if just believe in Jesus.

− True, but without message of cross, incomplete.

− Man can do nothing of himself, in desperate need of a savior.

− It is because of this fallen state that the world is in turmoil.

B. Secondly, because 7 yrs ago close encounter with living Christ

− Like some can relate, did have a long path,

− extended period of preparation leading to salvation.

− But my ultimate born-again experience was not completely the product of a logical and cognitive process.

− MacArthur calls being born-again

− I was radically changed.

− Stood before a righteous God, utter despair at my sinfulness

− My inability to save self,

− arms stretched singing, Jesus take me now. You have all of me.

− HS entered my heart and at that moment

− I became a radically new creation. All things became new.

C. Thirdly, message of cross must remain central in thinking

− As we continue path of discipleship, sanctification.

− We grow as children of God through study, prayer, fellowship.

− But power comes from grace of Jesus earned by his sacrifice.

− Power comes from the living and very real HS in our lives.

− Must always keep the full gospel message at forefront

− Must view the world around us in light of the full gospel.

− Never underestimate the power of the gospel message.

− Must never lose sight of our sinfulness,

− Our need for redemption, God’s ultimate sacrifice.

− Is this humility that will enable live as bondservants of Christ

D. Maybe you are not sure of your salvation.

− Maybe you never had a radical experience like I described.

− May not be able to relate to whole thing of being born again.

− Not going to say not saved. Don’t know heart, mind of God.

− Do know entering into kingdom is radical supernatural event.

− More than acknowledgement that you believe in Jesus.

− In order to be born again, must first die. You must surrender.

− Must come to that utter realization that you are fallen in sin,

− Broken in spirit, and unable to reconcile yourself with God

− Only then can you come to the magnificent position, where your arms are stretched out, and you sing Jesus – I am fallen in sin, I am incapable, forgive me, take me now, You are my Lord.

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