“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also you have received and wherein you stand; by which also you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to scriptures.” (1 Cor. 15:1-4)
After any Celebration it always “dawns” on me what a serious thing we do there and at the same time how much we tease and kid around with one another over those three days; however, we are well aware that really important things happen during our fundraising. We get a little caught up in being “cheerful givers” I suppose, but there’s a lot of serious reflection done during those times as well. During those three days, we get to share the Gospel with our listeners and I’m always “impressed” by the universal belief all of us in the studio have about the Love of God and the “over-whelming” power and meaningfulness of our experience over the years as Believers.
I always come away from Celebrations “re-filled” with a new sensitivity and re-newed hope after talking about the Father so often during those three days. It also “re-freshes” some of the “why we came to share the Gospel in this specific way” over WBVN. We’ve been encouraged in the scripture “not to be ashamed of the Gospel.” We’ve always expressed to people that scripture doesn’t have anything to do with “blushing” about the Gospel; rather, we are aware of the need to not be ashamed to rely on it and it alone as the cornerstone of our Christian Faith. The simple Gospel is the starting point of understanding all of God’s purpose and the rest of His Word.
Many times I think it helps to remember what the Gospel is not so we discover what the Gospel really is. For me, it’s not easy enough just to say that the Bible is the Gospel. The Bible is the Word of God but it contains a great deal of information that is not specifically the Gospel. All the things revealed in the Bible are truly stated about the Gospel but the specific Gospel message itself is to be “found” in the Bible by “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” By rightly “dividing” we discover there’s only one Gospel and there’s not any contradictions; contradictions that sometimes appear “among” the Gospel.
Firstly, the Gospel means “good tiding” or good news and it truly is good news for sinner and Believer alike! Found with the Gospel are many messages telling how we can live and how we should behave. But, no one has been able to “live right yet,” so that can’t be the Gospel in itself. If behaving all the time was possible surely some man, someone would be able to be “right” all the time; however, we know from scripture that “No! Not one” is able to do that, for all have sinned. The Ten Commandments tell us a great deal about what it would take to be “self-righteous,” but can live them? Who is not guilty of them? In fact self-righteousness is the exact opposite of the Gospel. The prophet Isaiah specifically enlightens us that our righteousness, if perfect, would be as filthy rags to God. No, the Law cannot contain all that is about the Gospel. In fact, according to Paul the Law was given to show offense, to reveal our very need of the Gospel.
Logically, if just following the Law of God was what was required, we could all repent, obey the Law and not need a Christ. That promise to do better in the future is not the Gospel in itself because the Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, but rather is Good News to be delivered. Surely, there are “religions” that offer more discipline and rules than Christianity. Ours is not the most constraining or most difficult to follow! However, there are university studies of Comparative Religions that show, for the most part, all religions are very much alike. Common to all is the effort to make all men earn their own way, “provide for their own salvation” if you will. They may vary the rules but all make rules to find favor with God, or god, and save their own souls and make their own way to God. The only comparison to be made between religion and the Gospel is the stark contrast between earning our own way and the Word of God, which shows us that God has already made a paid the way for us. Certainly, we can do no better than Nicodemus, only the Spirit of God can give us acceptance with the Father. We are powerless to do that in ourselves. The Spirit of God does that for us not our improved behavior. Culture and education do not change people’s hearts, only the Spirit of God found in the Gospel of God can do that.
The universality of religion proves no man could have thought of something so unique as the Gospel. Imagine another religion that suggests that God sent His one and only to make sinners righteousness. God is careful to let us know that His Gospel can’t be mixed with any law or ordinance. He paid too much of a price for it to be part God and part man. If we don’t exalt Jesus in what we say about this Grace, we don’t talk of the Gospel. It’s His and His alone to supply. The Gospel is linked to nothing else but Christ! It leaves no room for human merit! In fact it is not only not “by merit,” but is strongly opposed to “merit.” Merit cannot be mixed with faith and the gift of Righteousness to yield the Gospel. If it could, it would no longer be Grace!
I love the writings of Paul. (My suggestion for new believers is start with the book of Colossians, reading Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Hebrews (in that order) in order to build a foundation of teaching about the Gospel as expressed by the Apostle given the Gospel message to the Gentiles. For the most part, if we misunderstand these scriptures we will probably misunderstand the rest.) For most of Paul’s adult life he had hated Christ and his followers; however, on the road to Damascus Paul was changed by Someone. Someone he considered dead and buried. From that moment on Paul fully expected the same thing to happen to anyone who would “hear Him.” From Damascus on, Paul believed that Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead. The Gospel first revealed in Eden, in the Tabernacle, in the Temple and in Isaiah’s “he was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities, and the chastisement of our peace was upon Him…” David proclaimed that same Gospel in Psalm 32. Jeremiah called him the “Lord of Righteousness.”
The Gospel is a Person. We are to remember that it’s always linked to Christ Jesus. It’s more powerful than Law. It’s mixed with no other portion (leaven) or the whole portion is ruined. It’s available from only on source. Believe in Christ. We must permit the Cross and the Resurrection to be large in our lives. We have to give up on any thought of ever being “good enough” in ourselves, only relying on gifts or Holiness and Righteousness. We need to yield to the Grace of God and accept access to God only through the blood of One. It’s only that Gospel that we have to put our trust in, our faith in. We can trust in nothing else. Accept what Jesus did through God and what God did through Jesus. It’s Their covenant we enter into, not our own. The Father and the Son have set the rules. No man could have thought of it, no religion can provide it. They have the whole deal in one life, in one death. We enter into their Grace, not by our ability, but by the ability of the Gospel of Peace and the Gospel of Grace to offer that to us. This Gospel is so profoundly “un-religious” it could only have been imaged by God. It is so powerful it could only be worthy of the Creator’s hand.