THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 12-15-02
LESSON TITLE: THE CROSS OF JESUS: "HEART OF THE GOSPEL"
Welcome to the Living Word Program on this wondrous Lord' Day morning. We thank God that you have chosen to be with us today, as we commit this time to our wondrous Creator. What a great privilege we have today to join in this opportunity to praise our God and glorify our Savior. May we each do our part to make this time acceptable in His sight and according to His Will. Now, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer.
Someday, those who are faithful are going to be rewarded with that which is equal to a mansion on the hilltop. What a wonderful thought this is, as a promise from our God. So, this morning won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together our first hymn of the morning. The name of the song "Mansions Over the Hilltop!"
(SONG # 1)
One of the saddest things in life is to look around us and to find so many who reject God. We don't always see this rejection in the form of words, but none-the-less we see it in the way people live. The Bible tells us that just saying Lord, Lord isn't enough. Just because I know who God is does not mean that I am justified in His sight.
How many times a day or week do you see someone saying words or doing things that really prove they are not interested in the things of God? Or how many times do you find someone who claims to love God do the very same thing? Again, the proof is in our actions. We are known as righteous or wicked according to the things that we do or say on a daily basis.
I often wonder if those who reject Christ, in word and deed, really understand what they are doing. The Psalmist David said, "For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the ungodly shall perish," Psalms 1:6. Again in chapter 53 and verse 1, David added, "The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good." You see the fact is when one rejects God by their actions or words, then they are lost, alone and without the only thing that can offer them a wondrous and peaceable eternal life.
On the other hand, consider the primary statement made in the first verse we read a moment ago, where David said, "For the LORD knows the way of the righteous." God truly knows and sees the faith of the righteous before Him. And the blessed part of it, is that the righteous will not perish. Isn't it the old beloved verse found in John 3:16, that says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." Notice the same terminology is used here, by saying, "the believers will not perish," but have "everlasting life." In this verse we see that Jesus himself taught the great promise of eternal life for those who are faithful. But again, even Christ, a few verses down, reminds us that, "those who do not believe are condemned," verse 18. And furthermore, in verse 19, we are told why they perish, because their "deeds are evil."
As those who love God and His will, let's make sure that we are living as righteous people in this world of wickedness. However, let's also remember the great responsibility and duty we have to help those who are not in the light, to find the light, and follow the will of the Savior.
Today we will be continuing our series concerning, "The Cross Of Jesus Christ." Our specific lesson of the morning will deal with the "Heart of the Gospel." So please continue with us this morning and after our next song I will return with this lesson from God's Word. It's now time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you so much for continuing with us today. We now have a great privilege as always to look to God's Word and to find out what He has to say to make us better servants in His kingdom and to know exactly what He wants us to do on a daily basis so that we might be approved of in His sight. We're going to continue in our series as was mentioned, "The Cross of Jesus." I do appreciate those who have contacted us and the many fine comments and even the questions we've received about the "cross of Christ." I think there is not a better topic probably in the scriptures that we could talk about and as we'll see this morning, of the utmost importance in relationship to what the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about.
So far we've been able to kind of see the significance of the blood in relationship to the cross and how the blood was shed by Jesus. We've been able to see lessons like the "picture of Calvary" and we've been looking at the events that transpired before, during Calvary and then even after Calvary. And then we have even been able to look at the great attitude of Jesus Christ and how that He was able to humble Himself and to do so many things and to set so many examples through this period of the cross that we can learn from and it will make us better people and better servants before His Father.
This morning, we want to continue our study by looking at really the gospel of Jesus Christ, that heart of the gospel, if you will. In fact, the cross often is forgotten in the fact of the death, the burial and the resurrection and the fact that truly it is the focal point of the gospel in the Word of God. But I thought this to be an important topic in relationship to cross because so many of our day in the religious world as well as in the church have a problem understanding that really the gospel is set in the cross. However, there's much more to it the Bible tells us. Jesus being born, the concept of Him living, the idea that He did die and was buried and resurrected is not all that is encompassed in the gospel. That's what we hope to cover today in our lesson.
You might remember in the Bible that the very reason that we should even talk about the gospel of Christ I believe is given to us best in Romans 1 and 16. If you'll notice there as Paul was talking to the church at Rome, he made the following statement. He says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation, for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also the Greek. Notice clearly that Paul says that there was something powerful, something given by God. And what is that great power unto salvation? In other words what will save the soul of man? Here he says it is the gospel.
Now let me ask you, how important is the gospel? I would say it is of the utmost importance. Why? Because it is tied directly to salvation. If you want to be saved in relationship to what God has presented and revealed and given through His Word, you must know the gospel. You must, as we will see, respond to the gospel. Why? Because it is what God has given us, as the verse tells us, unto salvation.
We continue on from the book of Romans really and look at other places and see clearly then why the gospel was used in places like the Great Commission. In fact, you might remember the verse there in Mark 16, verses 15 and 16 as the disciples were commissioned to go into all the world. Do you remember what they were told to do? Preach what? The gospel. Why preach the gospel? Paul said because "it is that which leads unto salvation. It has the power to save." Again showing us clearly that the gospel is once again of utmost importance.
I want to also read specifically with you a verse found in the book of 1 Corinthians, if you'll turn in your Bibles there. In 1 Corinthians 15, we find here that Paul actually discusses the gospel and he actually tells us what is entailed in the gospel of Jesus Christ in these few passages. Read with me beginning in verse 1 of chapter 15 as he speaks there, the inspired writer to the brethren. Paul says, "Moreover brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preach to you which also you received and in which you stand by which also you are saved if you hold fast the word which I preach to you unless you believe in vain. I deliver to you first of all that which I also received that Christ Jesus for our sins, according to the scriptures, died, and He was buried and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures." Notice here what Paul was saying. Paul says, "I came brethren, and declared something to you." What did he declare? He declared the gospel.
And if you'll notice again in verse 2, he confirms that it is that gospel by which also you were saved. He said, "I declared the gospel. You responded to it. You heard it. You obeyed it. And now you are therefore saved by it."
But then he goes on in verses 3 and 4 to tell us the whole part of that gospel because he says, "it is that which was delivered to me." What was delivered first to Paul? He says, "What was delivered to me is the fact that first Christ died for our sins, as the scriptures indicate." Furthermore in verse 4, "that He was buried and that He arose again the third day." The gospel. It's heart. The center of the gospel. Yes, certainly is encompassed in this greatest act that will ever be known by any child of God or follower of God.
There is no act that is any greater or of more significance to you and I today as those who love God than to know about the great sacrifice made by Jesus Christ, the great life, the great death, the great resurrection because without that you and I would not be children of God. You and I would not be those who are able to be followers. In fact, you and I would be without hope, lost away from God, unable to be reconciled through the blood of Christ. So certainly, the gospel once again is of the utmost significance. Certainly it is important.
But again the question we will come back to in just a moment is, "Does the gospel only cover the fact that Christ did live, that He did die, that He was buried and that He did rise on the third day?" Certainly the Bible shows us once again that there is more. There is more to it. There is more to it because the sacrifice that was made is directly connected to the outcome that is given because of it. Now what do I mean by that? I mean the fact that Christ lived, that He died, that He was buried, and that He resurrected is directly tied to the shedding of the blood and the Bible tells us that the shedding of the blood is significant for certain reasons. How on earth can I tell somebody about the great even there, the cross of Jesus and that the blood was shed without telling them why it was shed. You see if I were to say that the gospel only encompasses the even itself, why would I cover anything else in relationship to the cross of Jesus. I have to know what the blood was all about and why it was given.
I want you to notice with me a verse in Acts chapter 20 and verse 28. As the shepherds, those of the flock, the overseers were addressed there. Notice that as they were told to shepherd or lead the flock that it's a beautiful statement made there near the end of that verse that they were overseers of the church that was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ. Where was the blood shed? At the cross. Why was the blood shed? To purchase what? The church. The church that Christ spoke about in Matthew 16 as establishing someday, as bringing about there in chapters 18 and throughout even Acts chapter 2 and other areas where we continue on throughout all the gospels even to the establishment in Acts 2 where the Bible, the kingdom, the references to the idea of that which was coming. All are brought about to fruition there that yes, Christ did establish a church. And as we read the verse here, He obviously did it through the shedding of blood. Why did He shed the blood? He shed the blood to purchase the church. In that church, we know the shedding of the blood, as other verses tell us, was directly done to wash away sin. To forgive us of sin, to cause us to be cleansed before the throne of God.
Another verse I think that will help us with this is found in Colossians 1. We don't have time to turn to all of these so I hope you are writing them down. In Colossians chapter 1, verses 13 & 14, we find in these verses again the concept of how that Christ died. Christ died why? To establish the church. But what was the purpose of the death? It says there "to translate us out of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son." We've already read that the kingdom was purchased, the church was purchased with the blood. In fact, the next verse, verse 14 says "that it was the shedding of the blood and in fact, the next verse, verse 14 says, "that it was the shedding of the blood that gives us the opportunity to be taken out of darkness and put into that precious kingdom, that precious church."
So as we again talk about the great event, the great picture of the cross, we see a direct tie through the shedding of the blood to the great church and kingdom that was established, the great thing and the events that transpired so that we, you and I, might be added by the Lord to that church, Acts 2:47. And so that you and I, as we read in Acts 2:38, might receive a complete forgiveness of sins, a washing and cleansing through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Now again, I ask the question, how can I talk about the cross of Christ without explaining to someone all of these wondrous things that are tied directly to it and direct outcomes of it? Again, I don't believe that we can and I don't believe that they did there in New Testament times either. I believe that they preached the gospel, the gospel that was centered around the heart being there, the life, the death, the burial, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But also the gospel that encompassed what the blood did and where it put them and what it caused them to do because of that sacrifice that was made, that is once again before Jesus Christ.
Let me give you some further examples that I believe will help you to see that the gospel must mean more, the gospel must involve more than again that Christ died, was buried, and was resurrected because the Bible says in Hebrews 11 and verse 6 that "without faith it is impossible to please Him."
If I am to say that I'm only to preach the gospel and the gospel means nothing else, if it covers nothing else but the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, then what must I say about faith? We've already said that the gospel is unto salvation, and if I say that faith is required. I have got to have faith, but I'm not going to tell somebody about faith because it's not part of the gospel, then how can I be saved by the gospel if I don't directly tie it to what? Faith. You see, the picture is really that the gospel encompasses that which the Will of the Father has delivered to us, the complete revelation. It is that which was spoken of from the beginning, planned by God, ordained according to everything in it's place, in it's time according to the Will of the Father.
I want you also to notice a verse with me over in Galatians, in Galatians chapter 1, we find here that Paul again was talking to the church of Galatia and helps us to understand that they had heard the gospel and that the gospel had saved them and that they must continue to stand in it. I want you to notice with me the references that are made here that really would show us that there is more to it than just an understanding of the event of the death, burial and the resurrection. Certainly that is the heart, but there is more to it. Read with me if you will beginning in verse 6. "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you into grace of Christ to a different gospel which is not another, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ but will even if we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than that which was preached to you, let him be accursed. Again, we say as we have said before, so say I now again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what we have received, let him be accursed." Here again, in this passage we find that they were actually encouraged it seems to me about a way of life, something that they were doing. In fact, he says to them, "You have to obey the gospel, a form that has been shown to you, and that you are doing something that has been referred to as the gospel, and that which you are doing is that which you have received, that which was delivered." He says, "When you obey the gospel, make sure it is the right gospel, the one true gospel, because some try to pervert it. Some try to teach another." He says, "Do only that which God has delivered in His gospel." Now, as you tie all that together and you think about it for just a moment, and you see that he says that even if an angel preaches a different gospel, even if we preach a different gospel, even if any one of God says that they preach a different gospel, they should cursed. Why? Because there is one gospel. And that gospel was in this connection given as a way of life, something that they were doing on a regular basis. How can I do the event of the cross? You see, it takes more. There's something more to it. There's something that was encompassed more in it and therein found that was according to the Will of God and was encompassing the entirety of the New Testament that was written to us.
I want you to begin also to look at the book of Acts there as we've made several references to Acts chapter 2, and I want you to consider there on the Day of Pentecost, as we already have again made reference to that period and the greatest establishment of the church there. And I want you to think of, as they preached the first gospel sermon, that when they were told about the death, burial and the resurrection that that was the heart of the gospel. But notice what they did when they heard it. They responded to it. Why did they respond? They responded because they were cut to the heart. And what was the answer of what they should do according to the gospel that would save them? They should repent and be baptized.
Now if the gospel only encompasses the event again, what is repentance and baptism unto salvation? Gospel saves. If repentance and baptism are part of it, wouldn't it also encompass the fact that the gospel then entails baptism, that it entails repentance, that it entails confession? Because you and I know all these things are involved.
Do you remember there when the eunuch in Acts chapter 8 was being taught by Philip and as they were going along and he was preaching unto him in Acts chapter 8 that he found water and he said, "See, here's water." Well what is wrong with Philip? He's only supposed to preach the gospel, as some would say today only the death, burial and the resurrection. But for some reason out of nowhere, this eunuch said, "Here's water. Baptize me." Well the gospel had to have encompassed and had to have meant more as it was being used there by Philip and as he referred even to those Old Testament things.
But I want you to also look there in Acts chapter 8 at verses 4 &5 and notice what he refers to as being preached there. In verse 4 he says that "they were preaching the Word." Why were they preaching the Word if it wasn't connected to the gospel? In verse 5 it says, "they preached Christ." And notice furthermore in verse 12 that "he was preaching the kingdom." Furthermore in verse 12, he says, "those who heard the preaching of the Word, the preaching of Christ, and the preaching of the kingdom..." in verse 12 it says, "were baptized afterwards." What I am trying to tell you is that great commission, the preaching of the gospel does encompass the death, burial and the resurrection, but furthermore it encompasses the entire Will of God that we have given here, anything that leads unto salvation.
The gospel saves. Therefore, when we preach the gospel, let's preach the whole council of God because without the whole council of God no one can be saved. We must do as God has said through His Word.
(SONG # 3 - "O To Be Like Thee!")
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.
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How blessed we are to have been given a perfect Gospel to follow from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May we always do what it says and follow it according to His Will!