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Gospel Transformation

Core Value #1: Gospel Transformation

January 30, 2011

The more we clearly we understand what the Gospel is and how it applies to our lives, the more clearly the beauty and glory of Christ is put on display and the more joy, happiness, and satisfaction we experience.

Our Mission:

“We exist to glorify God by proclaiming the gospel and demonstrating the kingdom of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit for the joy of all people.”

Our Vision:

  • Individuals: To lead people to a Personal faith that is Growing, and a Growing Faith that is Serving.  (Personal / Growing / Serving)
  • Congregation: 4 M’s
    • A church that is Missional
    • A church that is Multi-Generational
    • A church that is Multi-Cultural
    • A church that is Multiplying

Core Values:

  • Gospel Transformation
  • Biblical Authority
  • Christ-Centered Worship
  • Historic Convictions
  • Loving Community
  • Mercy Ministry
  • Missional living

Gospel Transformation:

We focus on heart transformation by proclaiming and applying the gospel of Jesus Christ in all that we do.

As we consider this, I want to focus our time by asking two important questions.  They are two questions that at first might seem very elementary.  But if we don’t answer these questions properly I believe that we will ultimately misunderstand and misapply the Gospel to our lives.

The two questions are:

  1. What do we mean by the word “gospel?”
  2. Why is the gospel “good news?”
  • What is the Gospel?
    • If you would I’d like for you to turn with me to I Corinthians 15 for just a moment and let’s look together at verses 1-4.

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…”

  • Let me first say something about the centrality of the Gospel related to the core doctrines.
    • Paul says that the Gospel is of “first importance” meaning that if we don’t have the Gospel we don’t have Christianity.  If we lose the Gospel we lose Christianity.
      • In other words, this is a doctrine that there can be no disagreement on.
      • There are other doctrines that are important (like end times and how the church is structured) but are not central to our faith.  Therefore they are not of “first importance.”  So we must be careful to keep the Gospel central and of first importance.
    • I believe Paul gives us a very clear picture of what the Gospel is in verses 3 and 4.
      • Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures
      • Christ was buried and raised on the third day again according to the Scriptures
    • So from this we deduce what the Gospel is, but we also see what the Gospel isn’t.
      • The Gospel is NOT the whole story of the Bible, rather it is the climax of Scripture’s story (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration)
      • The Gospel is different from man’s problem
      • The Gospel is different than our “response” to the Gospel (faith and repentance)
    • The Gospel is:
      • Christ died for our sins, was buried, and raised on the third day…all according to the Scriptures!

This naturally raises for us the second question, which is, “Why is this good news?”

  • Question #2: Why is the gospel “good news?”
    • In order for there to be “good news” there must be some corresponding “bad news.”
    • The bad news comes when we understand the nature of sin.  Sin has caused all relationships to be broken
      • Relationships with ourselves, with others, with creation, and most importantly with God – our Creator.
    • Sin is much more than just committing a wrong…it is more than just violating a law.
      • Sin is a condition whereby we will always seek to reject God and replace Him with ourselves, thus breaking our relationship.
      • Greg Gilbert: “It’s the breaking of a relationship, and even more, it is a rejection of God Himself—a repudiation of God’s rule, God’s care, God’s authority, and God’s right to command those to whom He gave life.”
      • I believe this condition is what Paul was talking about in Ephesians 2:1-3 when he wrote,

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”

  • Paul clearly portrays in this passage what we want the most.
    • Total self-sufficiency in all things
      • Living in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind.
      • Sin is so much more than just committing a wrong and violating a law!
        • It is a corrupt condition whereby we blatantly reject God’s authority and rule in our lives in order to be self-sufficient.
          • Rejection of God’s authority through religion and morality
          • Rejection of God’s authority through irreligion and rebellion

Some may be thinking to themselves, “Why would I want to subject myself to God?  I want to be free.  I don’t want God, or anyone, or anything to have ultimate authority and rule in my life.  I don’t want anyone or anything to ‘own’ me.”

Please hear me: If we aren’t worshiping God then we are worshiping something else.  As humans we have to live for something.

One scholar and author said, “Something must capture your imagination and heart.  Every human being must look in their heart and say, “If I have that” then life will be worth living.  This is where our deepest hopes are…our highest concerns are.”

The problem is, however, whatever captures our imagination owns us.  It enslaves us and puts us in shackles and we fall into bondage under it. The horror of it all is that it can never satisfy or fulfill the hope we put into it.

So although we are trying to avoid letting someone or something have authority in our life, the reality is it inevitable.  Something must capture our hearts and imaginations.

The Gospel, however, has the power to change and transform thus making it the “good news” the Scriptures speak of.

The Power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16)

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

The Gospel: Not just the “ABC’s” of the Christian faith; it is the “A to Z” of the Christian faith!

In other words…

The Gospel is not only the power of God for salvation, but the power of God for the whole of Christian faith!

  • The Gospel has the power to change our identity from slaves to sons.
    • Galatians 4:4-7, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
    • The Gospel is a better way because we are no longer held captive by what we are most afraid to lose.
      • We become sons and daughters of the most high God!
  • The Gospel has the power change our affections.
    • The Gospel not only changes our identity from slaves to sons, but has the power to change our affections.
      • Colossians 1:6, “In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.” (NIV)
        • This really speaks to the essence of this core value!
          • Everyone has to live for something
          • Nothing, apart from God, will satisfy our deepest longings
    • The challenge we have is as long as we remain alive we will have to fight against suppressing the truth that God is our authority and we are utterly dependent upon Him.
    • When we realize our struggles we often try to change our behavior and modify our actions through our own efforts rather than going to the Gospel(Galatians 3:1-3)
      • We can change behavior without changing the heart
        • This “behavior modification” will never last.
        • How many times have we been convicted over a sin, confessed it, and come up with a plan to deal with it?
          • Afterward, maybe three days, or three weeks, or three months later, we are right back to where we started.
    • We don’t really believe that God has forgiven us so we try and earn his acceptance by being good, moral, and disciplined in our life.
      • There is no transfer of dependence
      • We, in essence, are relying on ourselves to be our Savior.
      • There have been times in my life when I have been crying out to God to forgive me, cleanse me, change me and I’ve had tremendous guilt.  So, I’ve gone out and tried real hard to “gain the victory!”
        • Accountability partners
        • More prayer
        • Better Scripture reading
        • All in effort to gain the victory over the sin.
        • The reality is that these were all an attempt to save myself!
        • They were all dependent upon me!
        • They all failed to see the beauty of what Christ has done and what he has freed me from!
        • When we finally see that “behavioral change” is no longer a means to an end, it becomes the fruit (or overflow) of a heart that has been totally accepted and renewed through the Gospel.
      • There are going to be times when we need to repent over good things we’ve done to justify ourselves before God.
    • The Gospel actually has the power to change our misguided affections as we reflect on the truth that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again according to the Scriptures.
  • The Gospel has the power to change our future.
    • Revelation 21:1-7

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Also he said, “Write this down, for the words are trustworthy and true.”  And he said to me, “It is done!  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  To the thirsty I will give from the spring of water of life without payment.  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

  • Greg Gilbert in his book, “What is the Gospel?” wrote:  “God intends to create for his people a new world, free of sin and death and sickness.  War will end, oppression will cease, and God will dwell with his people forever.  Never again will any of God’s people suffer death, and never again will tears burn our eyes at a graveside.  Never again will an infant live but a few days and then die.  Never again will we mourn, or hurt, or weep.  Never again will we long for home.  For as Revelation tells us, God himself will wipe every tear from our eyes, and we will finally, see His face.”

So, with this new message of Gospel Transformation, what does one do now?

  • For the Christian it is a call to worship the one who paid our debt to raise our lives from the dead, give us the power to change, and the promise of eternity.
  • For the non-Christian it is to challenge them to see the Gospel is the better way and to respond with faith and repentance.

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