Showing posts with label Gospel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gospel. Show all posts

Friday, March 1, 2024

Prophetic Revelation and the Gospel


1 Peter 1:10-12 (CSB)
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who prophesied about the grace that would come to you, searched and carefully investigated. They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified in advance to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven — angels long to catch a glimpse of these things.

The main purpose that Peter had in writing this letter, that we call 1 Peter, was to encourage Christians who were scattered throughout the Roman Empire. Not only were they scattered, but they also faced opposition. The opposition they experienced caused them to doubt and which led to them to consider giving up. This back ground is important to remember as we read this text, because it would shape the way the original recipients of this letter would have hear it. 

1 Peter was written to people who wondered if following Jesus was worth it.

In order to encourage these exiles, Peter reminded them that the Old Testament contained God’s promise to rescue to His people from the sin that corrupted God’s good creation. This promise, taught by the law and the prophets, caused God’s people to believe that one day the Messiah, the Anointed One, would come to carry out God’s promise . The faith of the Old Testament saints was anchored in the hope of redemption (even though they did not fully understand all the details of God's plan) this Messiah would bring. 

Their anticipation of God’s salvation was secured by their faith and their hearts longed to experience all that God had promised.

According to Peter, the Old Testament prophets diligently studied God’s promises and looked forward to the events their prophecies promised. Their prophecies, which were inspired by the Holy Spirit, pointed toward the coming of Jesus and the redemption he would bring to God’s people. However, they also understood that it was not yet time for God’s promises to be fulfilled, and that is why they longed to see what would happen.

This passage should remind us that salvation in Jesus is far more beautiful and  encompassing than we can imagine.  It is so marvelous that even the angels, who are in heaven with God, are amazed by God’s plan of salvation. 

The Gospel, the Good News that God’s Kingdom comes into this world through Jesus, captivates the attention of the angels to such an extent that they continue to study intently all of God’s promises and actions.  Their dedication highlights their desire to understand the depth of God's love and mercy that is revealed in Jesus Christ.

We are heirs of this Gospel, and if the angels continue to be amazed at God’s love and grace, we too should marvel at the beauty of the prophetic revelation fulfilled through Jesus. Let us join with the angels in heaven, praising God for the indescribable gift of salvation.

My prayer is that the mysteries of God's grace continue to inspire and transform us so we can reflect the heart of our Savior into the world.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Hebrews: Don’t Neglect the Gift


The book of Hebrews was written by a pastor who had a deep concern for Jewish Christians. He wanted them to continue to follow Jesus and not give in to the temptation to change the Gospel in order to avoid persecution.

At the start of chapter 2, the pastor gives this warning:

"For this reason, we must pay attention all the more to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment, how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? This salvation had its beginning when it was spoken of by the Lord, and it was confirmed to us by those who heard him. At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to his will." (Hebrews 2:1-4, CSB)

In these verses, the pastor urged the readers to pay attention to the message of salvation that they have received and to not allow themselves to drift away from it. He reminded his friends that the Gospel was not just any ordinary message, but it was the message declared by Jesus, the Messiah, and confirmed to be true by the first disciples. God also bore witness to the truth of this message by performing signs, wonders, and miracles through Jesus and his followers by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This warning comes after the pastor's defense of Jesus's superiority over the angels in chapter 1. In Judaism, it was a common belief that the Law came to Moses through the angels. If people are determined to be guilty based on whether or not they keep the Law, which came to people through angels, how much greater will the guilt be for ignoring the Gospel that came to people through God's Son?

We should not ignore this warning.

What can we learn from these verses?

First and foremost, we need to pay attention to the message of salvation that we have received. This message is not something to be taken lightly or ignored. It is the very message that has the power to save us from our sins and give us eternal life. We cannot afford to neglect it. This means we have to study it, meditate on it, pray over it, and obey it. We become good stewards of the Gospel when it influences our lives.

Secondly, we need to recognize the incredible privilege that we have in being the recipients of the Gospel. Many of us have heard the Gospel our entire lives, and that familiarity makes it easy to take it for granted. Remember, the Gospel is the message that Jesus came to proclaim: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Matthew 4:17; CSB). God confirmed the truth of Jesus's message not only through the miracles that he performed but most importantly for us today, through his resurrection. The Gospel is a great gift, and we should treat it as such.

Finally, we need to be aware of the consequences of neglecting this great salvation. The pastor to the Hebrews reminds us that every transgression or disobedience received a just punishment. If the people under the old covenant did not escape the curses of breaking the Law, then we should not expect to escape the consequences of neglecting the Gospel. We need to take it seriously and live our lives in light of its truth.

Hebrews 2:1-4 is a powerful reminder that we need to be good stewards of the Gospel. It is not enough for us to simply hear the message of the Gospel; we have to live the message. We cannot afford to neglect it or take it lightly. After all, this is the very message that Jesus came to give us.

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Philippians: The Advance of the Gospel

STOP — Philippians 1:12-20

Paul transitioned to updating the Philippians about his life. The main point that he wanted them to know was that being in prison did not stop him from sharing the Gospel. Two important things happened as Paul shared the Gospel. First, the guards learned about the reason for Paul’s imprisonment and other believers gained confidence to proclaim the Gospel. Along with this was a group of preachers who proclaimed Jesus for financial gain and to cause Paul trouble while he was in prison. This doesn’t bother Paul because he is grateful that the truth of Jesus was being taught. Paul’s concern was that he would continue to bring honor to Jesus and not do anything that might bring shame to Jesus and the church.

We should find joy anytime the truth of the Gospel is rightly taught, because God is honored and people have the chance to believe.

  1. What we may see as obstacles to sharing the Gospel may actually turn it a benefit. The key is being faithful where we are. Paul did not let the reality of being in prison prevent him from sharing the Gospel.
  2. Our faithful example can have a powerful impact on the life of others. Paul’s continued ministry while in prison gave confidence to other people to share the Gospel which allowed for the continued growth of the Church.
  3. We should not let the bad motivations of other people bother us if they are sharing the Gospel. What should bother us is bad behavior and not representing Jesus well. Paul found joy in the sharing of the Gospel, even though the motivations of the preachers were bad.

  4. Even after all his faithful service, Paul was still concerned about representing Jesus well. He did not want to do anything that may bring shame on the name of Jesus and the Church.
Heavenly Father, increase my faith so I can have the confidence of Paul, who was able to continue with his ministry of sharing the Gospel even in prison.

Tomorrow: Philippians 1:21-30

Monday, November 16, 2020

In Spite of Our Sins and Flaws


I have given these two tweets quite a bit of thought the last few days. When I see things like this it causes me to stop and think, because I figure if one person is expressing the thought then other people are thinking it.

Each tweet has a thought that needs to be addressed.

First, Mayfield equates the expression of unworthiness with self-hatred. Now, there are times when I have heard worship leaders and pastors lay it on a little thick when it comes to reminding people about not living up to God's glory. Even when we take into consideration the over the top emphasis of our unworthiness, I don't think that equates with self-hatred.

You don't have to hate yourself in order to understand that the love another person has for you is totally undeserved. In many ways, that is the basis of true love. There is nothing you have done to earn the love of the other person.

Even in my best moments, I don't deserve the love my wife and children have for me. Too often I am selfish, moody, and inconsiderate of who they are and what they want. I am not hating myself to admit this reality, but rather grateful for the love they show me, in spite of my flaws.

To acknowledge that God loves us, even when we have rebelled against His will and have failed to bear His image in this world, is not a form of self-hatred. It can be an expression of gratitude for what God has done for us and the blessing He has given. It is an acknowledgement that in spite of our flaws God continues to loves us.

This then transitions into the second tweet. Murray makes the claim that self-hatred is at the heart of the evangelical gospel. Now, I realize that he is trying to say something about the gospel as American evangelicals typically teach it, but he also added "no matter how woke or kind the iteration is,"so I think it is fair evaluate this sentiment based on how I teach the Gospel.

Remember the Gospel is the proclamation of God's Kingdom coming into this world through the person of Jesus Christ. Watch the Bible Project video on Gospel.

To understand the Gospel we have to understand that God created human beings in His image. In other words, we are to be God's representatives in this world. We are to look after God's good creation using His wisdom, love, grace, and all the rest. The only way we can do that is to be connected to God so that His life is flowing through us. 

Sin severs the connection we have with God and instead of living with His wisdom and love, we live according to what we think is best. At the heart of the Gospel is God's love for humans and His plan for us to once again rule with Him in his Kingdom. Through the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, that connection is restored, allowing us to demonstrate God's character in this world.

Now, if you believe the Gospel is about a God who created people to try to live up to a ridiculously high standard and then condemn and punish them for not doing so,  I can understand why you think the heart of the Gospel is self-hatred. You will feel like Anakin Skywalker in The Attack of the Clones after he slaughtered the Tusken Raiders on Tatooine, "I'm a Jedi, I know I'm better than this." 

To feel like you need to be "better than this" and yet feel powerless to become better will lead you on the path towards self-hatred. Here is an overlooked truth: we can't be better than this. A life lived based on our definitions of good and bad, right and wrong will lead to a world filled with war, abuse, addiction, violence, and oppression. We don't have want it takes to become better.

The beauty of the Gospel is that it is a declaration that God loves us and seeks to renew and restore the connection He has with us. It tells us that we can't be perfect and that we can't bear God's image apart from Him.

The Gospel helps us to understand how unworthy we are of God's love and declares that in spite of our sin and flaws God desires to be in relationship with us. God has not given up on us. Instead, He is working to restore His image in us so we can live out our calling to demonstrate His character in this world.

The Spiritually Mature Life: Having the Fruit

On Sunday, April 7, 2024, I started a new sermon series at Bethlehem Church called A Spiritually Mature Life. This sermon series is focused ...