The Essence of the Gospel

1 Timothy 1:15-17

Supposedly live in period of time called post-modernism; have endured / survived rationalism, pragmatism, skepticism, modernism. Now post-modernism. The others could tell you what they were; this one tells what it isn’t – there’s no scientific, philosophical or religious truth that explains everything for everybody. Not that principles can’t be explained so everybody understands it, principles that apply to everyone don’t exist. They don’t even exist for everybody in one place or set of circumstances or period of time. Each individual must determine for himself what is real, what is true, not impose his/her reality on anyone else ’cause they’re doing the same thing.

In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. Postmodernism relies on concrete experience over abstract principles, knowing always that the outcome of one’s own experience will necessarily be fallible and relative, rather than certain and universal.” PBS, Faith & Reason, Glossary

Bible doesn’t take that position, which makes perfect sense. If there’s a God, if that God is good, if that God knows human nature, what would ever possess him to expect every individual man woman, boy, girl to figure out what’s true, real, right, wrong on their own? There is a God, that God is good, he knows human nature, he’s given us a book. It is one true God’s unchanging revelation of his truth to his one people. Contrary to post-modern view, that’s a good thing – if post-modernist cannot be certain of anything outside himself (maybe not even that), he can have no certain hope of anything present or future.

The Christian, who believes “Scripture is the only sufficient rule of all saving knowledge, faith and obedience” possesses something different:

Heb. 6:19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.

A hope based on a message of good news that has specific content; message communicates what God is doing and what he intends that message to accomplish. It is very personal in its application, not its interpretation, applies across all cultures and political boundaries and periods of time.

A. content v.15

true message

faithful, trustworthy: “This is a faithful saying” == “Verily, verily I say unto you”

1Tim. 3:1; 1Tim. 4:9; 2Tim. 2:11; Tit. 3:8

Chief Straight Arrow – “sit up straight, eyes front”; attention-getter

important in the sense, you can take it to the bank; wouldn’t do that with rubber check, funny money, only what is genuine

more than that: can stake your life on it, your eternal destiny

contrast to “fables and endless genealogies”, “idle talk” – this is guaranteed true

comes from one who is truth (John 14:6), declared his word is truth (John 17:17), said “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35)

message that can be declared confidently: from pulpit, to the world – this is true, will change your life

universal scope

deserving full acceptance – unreserved, universally

Gospel message not something that can be accepted piecemeal; it’s all-or-nothing

whatever issues it speaks to, must take what it says as truth – man’s condition and need, God’s solution

no room for negotiation, redefinition

none of “it works for me, it’s ok if it doesn’t for you”; “that was fine for people 2000 years ago, but…”

message for every sort of person in every sort of culture in every period of time without exception

why do people act like stumbling around in dark? because they are, in darkness of sin – only light of Gospel will change that

salvific essence

Christ Jesus saves sinners – core of Gospel message without which isn’t a true Gospel

listen / read carefully: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”

not “offer salvation”, “help sinners save themselves”, “show people how to achieve godhood”

“came” purposefully “to save” – came to do specific work; if God is God, he accomplished it

Gospel is not good advice, it’s good news of completed salvation

personal application

came to save sinners, that means other people; or if it means me, I’m not that bad – not what one who understands the Gospel says or thinks

Paul started out as “the least of the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:9), and “the least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8), now “chief of sinners” – what happened?

Paul the NT who spoke / taught most about grace – 83 of 119 uses; could do effectively because understood it

understood greatness of God’s grace in salvation because recognized greatness of his own personal need

more he came to know God, become like Christ, better he understood own sinfulness

Gospel still good news for Paul – nearing end of life, still captivated by wonder of Gospel

Christian, how do deal with reminders of your own short-comings, failings, sinfulness?

drove Paul, not to anger at himself, not to give up trying, but to praise

I’m not what I was, nor what I should be or will be, but I’m Christ’s by his grace; to God be the glory

I have received mercy from God, how can I do anything but praise?! more on that later

forgiveness and restoration still available to Christian long after conversion

B. demonstration v.16

pattern of longsuffering

πρωτος / πρωτω – I am the “chief”; that in me “first” – if the worst, then…

if God showed patience / longsuffering to one who persecuted Him like that, then there’s hope for anyone

how could God show that kind of patience to Paul

A mother took her six-year-old boy into a doctor’s crowded waiting room. As they waited their turn, he began to ask her all kinds of questions. In half an hour he managed to cover almost every subject known to humanity. To the wonder of all the others sitting in the room, his mother answered each question carefully and patiently.

Inevitably, he got around to God. As the other people listened to his relentless “how’s” and “why’s,” it was plain to see by the expressions on their faces that they wondered: “How does she stand it?” But when she answered her son’s next question, she answered theirs too. “Why,” he asked, “doesn’t God ever get tired and just stop?” “Because,” she replied after a moment’s thought, “God is love; and love never gets tired.” Arthur Fay Sueltz, LIFE AT CLOSE QUARTERS (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1982).

not in a hurry

think back even further – world so awful God destroyed all living except for eight; why not all?

#1 – Savior had not yet come

#2 – church not yet full: Acts 2:47 “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

same reason he hasn’t come back – still more to be added to the church

C. goal v.17

Paul understood great gulf Christ had bridged: “King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God” to “chief of sinners”

only proper response: worship the King

expressed by Isaac Watts, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, last verse:

Were the whole realm of nature of mine, / That were a present far too small. / Love so amazing so divine / Demands my soul my life, my all.

everlasting honor and glory from redeemed people

not simply salvation from hell – while true, too often expressed as sole focus of Gospel

salvation from sin to praise (Matt. 1:21); another hymn:

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven, To his feet thy tribute bring;

Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, Who like me, his praise should sing?

Praise him, praise him, Praise him, praise him, Praise the everlasting King.

everlasting begins now, in this life

God deserves praise of all mankind; our job to take Gospel to them as his ambassadors

he’s given us the message: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”

he’s made us examples of his saving grace – praise and witness should flow spontaneously from redeemed hearts

goal of the Gospel is the goal of missions

a worshiping people – not simply converts, but disciples

followers of Christ who will give praise to Christ and bring others with them to follow Christ and give praise to Christ

Have you not experienced the transforming power of the Gospel? It is the entrance into true life – embrace it, give it full acceptance today. “Believer, though the arms of thy faith be small and weak, yet they embrace a great Christ, and receive the richest gift that ever God bestowed upon the world.” Flavel You cannot keep silent about that gift – you must tell the story because “some have never heard The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.”

May the word of the Lord run swiftly and be glorified. (2 Thess. 3:1)

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