The Gospel Part 2

This is the concluding article based on the message "The Gospel" preached by Pastor Arthur Green April 5, 2020. To hear this message as it was presented live, please visit us on Facebook @RiverALIVEchurch.

So what is the gospel? Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, the gospel he preached was the good news that Christ died for our sins, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures. The next forty days Jesus appeared to His disciples after his resurrection and proved by many “infallible proofs” that he was alive and explained the scriptures to them about the kingdom of God before his ascension. He now lives to make intercession for them that believe and bring them completely into the salvation He provided. The goal in preaching is to get people to believe and respond to the gospel, not through deceit or manipulation, but by power and revelation of the Holy Spirit. Those who hear and believe will be saved.

With that in mind, let's consider Romans 6:1-6 and see what this means to us. The gospel so completely frees us from sin that it leads to the obvious question; should we continue to live in sin once we’re saved? The answer is no. We're given two reasons why. One reason is because it’s no longer our nature to live in sin. When we were saved we were baptized into Jesus’ death. Death in its simplest terms means separation. Jesus took our sins in his own body and became sin for us on the cross. The death that Jesus died, He died to sin. This means Jesus separated from our sins and now lives unto God. Likewise, before faith in Christ, we were dead in our trespasses and sins and separated from God. When we were saved, we were also separated from sin and made alive unto God. Prior to faith in Christ, we were sinful by nature. We were "children of wrath" with a rebellious spirit of disobedience. (Eph. 2:1-3) This sinful spirit dominated us and influenced our minds and bodies through the lust of our flesh to produce death and other ungodly fruit. But now, being dead to sin and alive to God, we have the nature of God and the Holy Spirit's influence to produce godly fruit unto holiness. Jesus said every good tree produces good fruit; but a corrupt tree produces evil fruit. This doesn't mean we won't ever mess up and sin again. In Micah 7:8, the prophet doesn't say “if” he falls, but "when" he falls. It does mean that it’s no longer our nature to live in sin and sin can no longer hold us and keep us down. The power of the gospel enables us to walk in newness of life; knowing that the old indwelling man of sin within has been crucified with Christ. We no longer have to serve sin. This is great news! The other reason we don’t continue to live in sin is because it gives Satan the opportunity to steal, kill, and destroy what God is doing in our life by grace. (Jn. 10:10 with Rom. 6:16)

We can better understand this by looking at the physical act of circumcision in the Old Testament. Circumcision was the sign of the blood covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants according to the flesh. (Gen. 17:10-12) Covenants with God are always made with blood. Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. (Heb. 9:22) It was later incorporated into the Old Testament Law of Moses that every male child had to be circumcised eight days from his birth. This identified them as God’s people. Likewise, under the new covenant, our relationship with God is through a "spiritual" circumcision of the heart. (Col. 2:10-13) The gospel is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces the heart of the hearer and divides between soul and spirit. (Heb. 4:12) With circumcision in mind, try to imagine your corrupt sinful spirit being cut off (circumcised) and cast away so that like Christ, you die to sin. The Holy Spirit overshadows you and symbolically you're buried with Him. The Holy Spirit then quickens you together with Christ and your spirit is reborn and recreated in the righteousness and true holiness of God. (Eph. 4:24) God having forgiven ALL of your sins, past, present, and future, graciously makes you just as if you’d never sinned. The prophet Ezekiel spoke of the day God would cleanse us from sin and give us a new heart, a new spirit, and put His Spirit within us. (Ezek. 36:24-27) This is what Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about in the third chapter of John and referred to it as being "born again". All of this takes place when we hear and believe the gospel and all of this is from God.

Jesus prayed for those who’d believe. His prayer was that those who hear and believe the gospel would be one with him, even as He and the Father are one, so that the world would know that the Father truly sent him. This prayer is recorded in John 17. The apostle John spoke of the witness that would come from this union again in 1 John 5:6-8 saying,

This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 

The three that bear witness in earth are just as much one as the three who bear witness in heaven. God has made them one through Christ. In Jesus’ Great Commission, Jesus gave water baptism as the response to the gospel that would testify to our faith in Him. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. When we're buried with him in the waters of baptism, the blood of Jesus is symbolically applied by the Spirit and we come out of a watery grave alive to God in a covenant of unbroken fellowship more excellent than Abraham or Moses had in the flesh.

Jesus said he'd send the gift of the Holy Spirit after his death, burial, and resurrection. (John 16:7) Pentecost brought with it the outpouring of the Holy Spirit Jesus promised. (Acts 2) The Holy Spirit came in such manifested power that it caused many to ask what they should do. Peter stood up in the midst of thousands and explained what they were witnessing was the fulfillment of what the prophet Joel said about God pouring out His Spirit on all flesh. Peter told them to repent and believe the gospel and be baptized in the name of Jesus. If they would, they would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is still true for us today.

Acts 2:41 tells us there were many who responded to Peter’s preaching of the gospel that day and were baptized. They received the faith that came from hearing the Word of God. They chose to believe, repented, and then responded in the act of water baptism. It took some action, a work, some effort on the part of those who heard the Gospel in order for them to receive salvation. As we discussed earlier, nothing they did earned anything from God but what they did was the positive response to the gospel that God was looking for. There were 3000 people saved that day.

The gospel is the greatest love story ever told. Jesus Christ loved us so much that he gave his life for us. Not because we were doing everything right. Quite the contrary. Christ died in our place when we were right in the midst of sin and doing everything wrong. All of us have sinned. Each of us have lived in our own way completely opposite of how God wanted us to. God wants the world to know the great love He has shown us and has chosen through the foolishness of preaching the gospel to do it. Choose to believe. Repent and ask God for the forgiveness of sins that Jesus provided. Chances are, the moment you do, the devil, the world, and even your own heart will try to condemn you. The truth is, if you’ll confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved and carry on in the name of Jesus Christ. There is no other salvation than that which comes through Jesus. (Acts 4:12) There is no better deal than this. How shall we escape if we neglect it?

Christ is still extending his hand of mercy saying, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Math. 11:28-30) I hope today you are one who says How beautiful are the feet are those who preach the gospel