Sunday, October 25, 2009

Define the Gospel

This message was delivered on October 4, 2009

       Define the Gospel     l

                              What Is The Gospel?
Intro.: Today's message began last Sunday
  1. As Deanna Kustas visited here and at Royal Garden, two questions were raised that I want to spend some time answering.
  2. The first question that I will address was actually raised at Royal Garden. We were discussing the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ and one of our worshipers asked, “What is the Gospel?”
  3. That is the question I want to answer this week.
  4. 19 times the scriptures talk about preaching the gospel – what was that gospel. What was that Good News?


Trans: You may remember that Campus Crusades had its start in 1951 – that was on the campus of UCLA by Bill Bright.
  1. A year later he wrote a little 12 page tract entitled “Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?” I was first introduced to that tract in 1968 when I started college at Sacramento City College.
  2. For most of the next five years, it was the tool that I used to tell others about Jesus Christ.
  3. In seminary, while attending a class on evangelism, it again was the tool that we examined for presenting the gospel.
T.S. During the next few minutes, I want to look at the four principles contained in this 12 page track.
  1. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
    1. If there is one part of the gospel that we don't mind hearing it is this.

        (Ill.)  We all know that first verse that most of us learned as children - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16]

    1. When we think of God, we almost instantly also think of His love. And when we think of a loving God, it is not such a small jump to knowing that God does have a wonderful plan for us.

(Ill.) The year was 1772. One of those almost impenetrable fogs had settled down over the city of London. In a dismal flat in the heart of the crowded East End, a man stood gazing into the fireplace. Then suddenly, overcome by emotions of discouragement, gripped by fears that he could not name, he threw his cloak about him and walked resolutely toward the door. He turned the key and walked out into the night. Carefully he groped his way across the pavement and felt for the iron horse’s head and the ring of the hitching post. Then, guided by the curbstone, he made his way to the nearest corner, where he knew a horse-drawn cab was always waiting. He opened its door and ordered the driver, “To the Thames, sir!” For in his deep depression there seemed no way out but to jump from the bridge. It should have taken 15 minutes, but after an hour and a half of negotiating the dark and foggy streets they realized they were hopelessly lost. In desperation, he decided to walk and paid the driver his fare. But as he alighted, his arm struck a familiar object. It was the iron horse’s head of the hitching post that to him was so familiar. After an hour and a half of fitful wandering he had alighted in front of his own home. So impressed was he that he climbed the stairs to his flat, lighted the lamp, and knelt to ask God to forgive him for what he had thought to do. And then, there in that same room that had so lately overcome him with its gloom, he wrote these immortal words that were long a favorite hymn:


God moves in a mysterious way

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm.


Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy, and shall break

In blessings on your head.


His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.


Blind unbelief is sure to err,

And scan His work in vain;

God is His own interpreter,

And He will make it plain.[1]


    1. “God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life.”
  1. Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life.
    1. If Law #1 is easy to accept, the second law is sometimes difficult to accept or to state out loud. We want a happy God, but then we see a God that does not like sin. And that makes us uncomfortable.
    2. Uncomfortable – but not surprised. Romans 3:23 tells us something about ourselves and everyone else, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
(Ill.) The late Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman used to tell of a Methodist preacher who often spoke on the subject of sin. He minced no words, but defined sin as “that abominable thing that God hates.” A leader in his congregation came to him on one occasion and urged him to cease using the ugly word. Said he: “Dr. Blank, we wish you would not speak so plainly about sin. Our young people, hearing you, will be more likely to indulge in sin. Call it something else, as “inhibition,” or “error” or a “mistake,” or even “a twist in our nature”.”
              “I understand what you mean,” the preacher remarked and going to his desk brought out a little bottle. “This bottle,” he said, “contains strychnine. You will see that the red label here reads “Poison.” Would you suggest that I change the label, and paste one on that says, “Wintergreen?” The more harmless the name the more dangerous the dose will be.”[2]
    1. And sin has its consequences. Romans 6:23 takes us another step, “For the wages of sin is death.”
    2. This does not sound like good news! But it is something we need to acknowledge. It is part of the gospel – part of why Jesus came, for ...
  1. Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life.
    1. Romans 3 tells us that we are all sinners. Romans 6 tells us that there is a consequence for that sin. Romans 5:8 tells us that, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”
    2. Paul says the same thing in I Corinthians 15, “Christ died for our sins… He was buried… He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures… He appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred…”
    3. Jesus Christ is God's one provision for our sin. We cannot be be good enough, we cannot be kind enough, we cannot be nice enough. We cannot give enough.
    4. Jesus Christ is God's only provision is God's only provision for our sin. Do you remember the words of John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me'” NO ONE!
  2. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives.
    1. Christ died – but we must each personally acknowledge that he did just that. John 1:12 puts it this way, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name”
    2. That is the gospel – that we each need to respond to God's offer of forgiveness.
  3. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
    1. That leads us right back to our first principle.



[1]AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

[2]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

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