Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Gospel of Jesus

The message of the love of God

Our daily lives are filled with doing and acquiring. We have a clear date in mind when we got the job, when we got married and most everything which is special and significant to us. We are able to recount and retell specifics concerning those events and special moments years after their occurrence. Why then, are so many disciples of Jesus troubled and at a loss to recount and retell the moment of their commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior?

Recently, I found myself telling the old story of the gospel to a neighbor and to a dear sibling. That is a story which has remained as much a fire in my bones as ever since thirty three years ago. I rejoice in the telling of the story. It stirs in me a keen and wonderfully discomforting awareness for the lively and enlightening ancient story of the gospel. There is nothing like standing in the warmth of the fire with the one hearing the message of the love of God.

A lack of confidence

I feel for brothers and sisters in the faith who do not know and often are frightened by the intimacy and intensity of sharing the gospel. I can only wonder what they were taught at the time of their conversion. What I learn is often what they were taught is so scrambled and vague. It produced no confidence for them in the sharing of their own story. Some were told to repeat a prayer. Others were told to simply let themselves go and feel the spirit. Still, others may have great zeal and confidence, but they find themselves at a loss to find an example like their experience in the scriptures.

The first gospel sermon

The gospel is the good news. It occurs to me the good news of the gospel does not begin with the birth of Jesus in a manger. It begins with his death. The gospel is the message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. When Peter preached the first gospel message on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 he was clear and specific about the things he proclaimed to his audience. He proclaimed the death, burial of Jesus to his audience and made it clear to them they had crucified this Lord and Christ whom God had raised up.

him, being delivered up by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by the hand of lawless men, crucified and killed; 2:24 whom God raised up,

The apostle Peter through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit clarifies for his listeners the interpretation of Psalm 16. He makes it clear the burial (Hades) in the Psalm was not about David, but about Jesus.

The conversion of Saul

When the Lord Jesus appeared to Saul, who was a persecutor of the church, he was struck blind and waited until Ananias was sent to him. Saul arose and was baptized as he was instructed by Ananias.

The teaching of Paul

The apostle Paul wrote many letters to the churches throughout Asia and Europe. It remained clear in his memory what he had been taught by Ananias. He was as specific when he recounted to the Romans his conversion.

Or don’t you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 6:4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.

Note how Paul includes himself (we, us) with the Christians in Rome in what he referred to as a form of teaching later in verse 17.

Furthermore, the apostle Paul defined the gospel in First Corinthians 15:1-4.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 15:4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

The confidence of our first century brothers and sisters was not in the wonders and signs performed by the apostles and those upon whom the apostles had laid hands. Their confidence was rooted in the keen knowledge and awareness of what the gospel they had been taught and how and when they obeyed it. Search the scriptures for that form of teaching you were taught and obeyed. There is confidence in knowing that what we teach others is what we ourselves obeyed ,and most importantly, according to the scriptures.

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