Straight to the Heart

 
 
 

What is the Gospel?

 
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, ESV)

Much confusion exists today over just exactly what the gospel is. In an effort to clarify the gospel some begin with a via negativa, highlighting what the gospel is not. This is helpful, of course, but we cannot stop there. There are several places in Scripture where the gospel is briefly summarized, and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

, is one of those places. There the apostle Paul reminds us:

The gospel is the revelation of God’s plan to reconcile sinners to Himself (1 Corinthians 15:3). This saving plan was prophesied long ago (1 Peter 1:10-12), revealed to the New Testament apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20) and inscripturated for our sake under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:16-21). In other words, the gospel is not a man-made message (Galatians 1:11-2:11) but a divine revelation received (1 Corinthians 15:3

).

The gospel is about Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). This saving plan that was revealed in a progressive but limited fashion to the Old Testament prophets, then fully disclosed to the New Testament apostles and prophets concerns Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1-4). God reconciles all things to Himself through Jesus (Colossians 1:19-21). Consequently, the Father sent Jesus at the appropriate time in history to face the “hour” of His death on the cross for us (John 12:23-28; 17:1

). In this sense we may also say that the gospel is an unrepeatable event in history.

Thus, the heart of the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, for this historical event was the plan which has now been revealed (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

  1. Jesus Christ died as a propitiatory sacrifice for sin (1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 2:14-17). We are sinners born in sin who owe a debt too large to pay (Romans 6:23). Thus, the gospel is not a message of what we must do to redeem ourselves—that’s religion. The gospel message announces that only the Father can cancel the debt of sin that we owe by counting it against Jesus, His own Son (Colossians 2:13-14; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21). This penal-substitutionary death was according to the Scriptures (Isaiah 53:4-5).

  2. Jesus Christ was buried. The point here is that contrary to Greek philosophical ideas that Jesus only appeared to die, He really died, and He really was buried (cf. Isaiah 53:9).

  3. Jesus Christ was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:4; see also Acts 2:23-32). Without the resurrection there is no gospel, no good news. Without the resurrection we are still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:12-18). The resurrection reminds us that in the same way Jesus was raised, all who hope in Him will also be raised.

What are we to do with this gospel?

  1. We are to repent (turn away) from our sins and receive Jesus’ work on our behalf by faith (1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Mark 1:14-15).

  2. We are to remain in this gospel by faith (1 Corinthians 15:1-2), for the gospel is that on which Christians stand. In other words, we will never outgrow the gospel.

  3. We are to proclaim this gospel, for it is the only hope of salvation to the world (1 Corinthians 15:1, 3). This is the gospel priority (1 Corinthians 15:3). It was Jesus’ priority (Luke 4:18, 42-44); it was Paul’s priority (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 1:17; 9:23); it should be our priority (Mark 16:15; Luke 24:44-47).

Love,


Speaking Life-Giving Words to One Another

 
“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life…The lips of the righteous feed [or shepherd] many…” (Proverbs 10:11, 21, ESV)

 

At a recent meeting, a number of us were asked what we had been reading. One of the brothers was reading Scottish Puritans: Select Biographies. He shared with us James Fraser’s twelve rules for ordering his conversations. I found it to helpful, so I used the rules this Sunday in our sermon on “Taming the Tongue” from Proverbs. Since so many of you asked for them, I offer them below. I have updated some of the language and added applicable Proverbs under each rule. You may find these twelve rules in his Memoirs of the Reverend James Fraser of Brea, Scotland 1798.

 

1st Rule: Speak nothing sinful: lying, cursing, scolding, backbiting, gossip, slander – anything that dishonors God or neighbor.

  • Proverbs 13:3 | “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”

2nd Rule: Speak no idle words: will what I profit or is it vain, empty?

  • Proverbs 25:11 | “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

3rd Rule: Speak not much.

  • Proverbs 10:19 | “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”

  • Proverbs 17:27-28 | “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. / Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

4th Rule: Speak soberly both as to matter and to manner: not loud, obnoxious.

  • Proverbs 27:14 | “Whoever blesses his neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.”

5th Rule: Speak not rashly or hastily.

  • Proverbs 29:20 | “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

6th Rule: Speak weightily, seriously

  • Proverbs 26:18-19 | “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I am only joking.’”

7th Rule: Speak in Faith: do you know, believe what you’re saying?

  • Proverbs 12:22 | “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who act faithfully are his delight.”

8th Rule: Speak Prayerfully: have you prayed about what you will say?

  • Proverbs 15:29 | “The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”

9th Rule: Speak timely and purposefully

  • Proverbs 15:23 | “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is.”

10th Rule: Speak in Fear – keep a bridle in your mouth

  • Proverbs 8:13 | “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.”

11th Rule: Do not let your neighbors’ faults be the subject of your talk, even if true.

  • Proverbs 16:24 | “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”

12th Rule: Speak not of yourself or your worth.

  • Proverbs 16:18 | “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Grace & peace,
 


Who do you say that Jesus is?

 
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5, ESV)
Everyone has a Jesus! And most everyone esteems him. For the Hindus, Jesus was an incarnation (avatar) of the Hindu gods; Buddhists believe Jesus was a wise teacher and excellent moral example; Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet but nothing more; Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus was the first created being through whom all things were made; and Latter Day Saints (Mormons) believe that Jesus is God’s son (physical offspring), who through obedience to Mormon teachings attained godhood.
 
Since everyone has a Jesus, the critical question is not, “Do you believe in and esteem Jesus?”, but, “Which Jesus do you believe in and esteem?” The purpose of John’s gospel is to give evidence that Jesus of Nazareth, as presented in the Christian Scriptures, is “the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). For this very reason John begins his gospel by identifying Jesus.

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Juan Sanchez

Juan Sanchez (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) serves as the senior pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas. In addition, Juan serves as a council member of The Gospel Coalition, co-founder and president of Coalición, assistant professor of Christian theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and president of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He has authored numerous books, including 1 Peter for You and Seven Dangers Facing your Church. Juan and his wife, Jeanine, have five daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren.
 
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