Sermon Notes: Life and Teaching – What is the gospel?

What is the gospel?

1 Timothy 4:16 “Pay close attention to your life and your teaching; persevere in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

We have to pay close attention to our life and our teaching. We can’t fail to pass on sound Bible teaching and faithful obedience to future generations. 

There is no such thing as sound life without sound teaching, and there is emptiness in teaching that is not accompanied by obeying sound teaching in practice rather than loud words with no action. 

In this course of sermons, we are asking and answering the key questions to help to create the foundation of a comprehensive Christian worldview. 

Today’s question and answer is: What is the gospel?

The word “gospel” is a couple of steps down the line translation of the Greek word “euanggelion”.Euanggelion” means “good news”. 

The word “gospel” is not a literal translation of “euanggelion”

“Gospel” is from the Anglo-Saxon term “god spell”, meaning “good story” which comes from the Latin word “evangelium” which comes from the Greek word “euanggelion”. 

We are all used to the word “gospel”, and I chose to use that word in our question because we are all very familiar with it, and it’s a good word. However, “good news” is the better way to translate “euanggelion” from the text, and I’ll use “good news” predominantly from here on out unless the context is better to use “gospel”. 

“Good news” is used 97 times in 91 verses in the New Testament, and is so all-encompassing that we can’t do all of those uses justice in one sermon. The basic understanding is that the message being preached is exceptional news that must be passionately told. 

The Old Testament version of “good news” is “basar”, and a good example is Isaiah 40:8-9. It means a message carrying tidings, news. 

FACT: Early on in my master’s level education, before the “gospel” marketing boom hit, we were asked the question, “What is the good news?”. What is the message the apostles proclaimed (kerygma) and passed on so that each disciple knew what to say? What is this message that is so powerful that was being proclaimed? 

I’m so grateful for Dr. Vaughn asking that question to my Greek class. We were in the weeds of translating, and Dr. Vaughn didn’t want us to miss asking this question because the Bible captures that they proclaimed a message, and we were already so soundbite crazy he knew we were overlooking the whole message the fact that they never crystalized it into nice neat little packages anywhere. 

See, the Bible captures parts of these sermons and conversations of the apostles, and it assumes fairly and truly that the reader has done their due diligence to know the back story of the whole Bible to the part being shared at that moment because they were sharing with a specific audience. 

Example: The good news authors Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each have different audiences that influence the parts of the life and ministry of Jesus they are historically recounting. 

Ya’ll, the stammering and stumbling in that classroom over answering that question from Dr. Vaughn was palpable. I doubted if I could answer the question apart from my canned evangelistic presentations, and that sent chills of appropriate trembling down my spine. A so-called evangelistic presentation may or may not have THE good news in it.

I knew then and believed that the good news is the power of God for salvation for anyone who believes (Romans 1:16). The question for me and all of us in that classroom was if we knew the story of the good news that the whole Bible tells, and had it created a comprehensive framework of understanding that would affect everything for us, not just a crazed marketing frenzy. 

Up to that point, no one and I mean no one, ever asked me what the good news was as presented in the whole Bible. I questioned if my evangelistic presentations did the good news justice or even presented any news that would do what Romans 1:16 says this news would do. 

I remembered my salvation at age 20 and the message that was preached that evening on Jekyll Island, Georgia that was comprehensive and compelling, and supernaturally good. Yet, I had received that transformational work and moved on and not integrated that good news into my practice of teaching and evangelism (evangelism is the work of sharing the “euanggelion”). Christian sub-culture had drowned out the metanarrative of the gospel for a quick hit “get saved” presentation that did not tell the whole story. 

NOTE: God still does good even when we don’t do good. God does not NEED us to be perfect. AND that is not an excuse to let anemic work stay anemic either. 

Too much is at stake, and we are tasked with watching our life and teaching closely because it matters we get as correct and robust as we can to our best understanding of what God has given us in his word. 

As I studied my Bible and read it through repeatedly, I noticed that parts of the good news as the whole Bible presents it were just ignored. 

So many “evangelistic” strategies and discipleship efforts take basic “good news” understanding for granted or assume some level of agreement with a list of presuppositions. 

However, the more I spent time in the public square and among Christian sub-culture the more I realized that we can’t assume anything in the public square, and basic knowledge of the Bible. And we can assume a Christian worldview is in place even among those who call themselves Christian.

What I want to do this morning is, again, lay out the metanarrative of the Bible that the Bible calls the good news.

Let’s read Romans 3:21-26

What is the Good News?

  1. The good news of the kingdom is the entire story or metanarrative of the entire Bible with Jesus, the eternal Son of God, as the centerpiece of that metanarrative in his identity, coming on mission from the Father, living, dying, his burial, his resurrection, and his ascension back to the Father to restore and redeem all of his creation and all of his people who will repent and believe in him to then be continually transformed and one day to reign forever together in a renewed creation, in Eden regained when the Lord returns upon our preaching this good news to every nation on earth.
    1. Here is the four-word summary of that good news story that will help you tell the entire story of the entire Bible that promises to be God’s power for salvation for anyone who will believe.
    2. Creation. Fall. Redemption. Restoration.
      1. Creation
        1. Genesis 1:1 (CSB) 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
          1. The Bible tells us from the first sentence that creation has a beginning and that it was made by the God who is the subject of the Bible. 
          2. We can say it like this: God, the Triune God of the Bible, is THE God and he alone created all things and all beings from nothing, and he alone is to be worshiped.
          3. God created all things “very good”. 
          4. We learn that sin and evil are not the product of his creating work.
          5. God is distinct from his creation, and as a result, only God is to be worshipped. 
          6. God created the spiritual world, and it is real, and it is subject to him. 
          7. God created mankind in his image as male and female in love and joy; mankind has a worldwide vocational purpose in managing all things as God’s co-regents on the earth. 
          8. God did all this for his glory and praise and for us to enjoy to his glory. 
      2. Fall
        1. Genesis 2:16-17 (CSB) 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.
          1. Something has already taken place in the heavenly and unseen realm of the hosts of creation, and good and evil are now distinct realities. 
          2. One rule: Don’t seek to be part of this rebellion by following in the footsteps of that rebellion in stepping out of the boundaries God established. 
        2. The serpent (one of the heavenly hosts…made clear in other passages in the OT and NT), being an originator in the rebellion, deceives the new couple in their garden home, and they follow the deception, and the virus of death begins to creep into all of creation.
          1. Genesis 3:8-10 (CSB) 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 So the LORD God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you? ” 10 And he said, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.”
        3. Adam and Eve now have joined in the rebellion against Yhwh. Relational bonds of every kind are now frayed and death is spreading like a cancer into every relational fiber in creation.
          1. God to man.
          2. Man to himself.
          3. Man to man.
          4. Man to creature.
          5. Man to physical creation.
        4. Death as the curse has set in as mankind and creation crumble relationally at every level and will spread to all mankind and all creation.
      3. Redemption
        1. But Yhwh, the Triune God of the Bible, sets the pattern for what he will do to rescue people and all of creation by redeeming people and all of creation from the curse of sin
        2. What is that pattern?
          1. Adam and Eve immediately, upon sin, feel this new emotive/physical unpleasant sensation of shame as they now look in broken ways at how God had created them, and they hid themselves.
          2. God takes it upon himself to have innocence cover guilt to repair the shame of sin.
            1. Genesis 3:21 (CSB) 21 The LORD God made clothing from skins for the man and his wife, and he clothed them.
          3. Will it be animals that will ultimately fix this problem?
            1. God speaking to the serpent host who led the rebellion:
              1. Genesis 3:15 (CSB) 15 I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.
              2. The Lord promises that there will be one who will come from Eve and this one will crush the serpent’s head at the cost of his wounding to reverse the death sin has caused. 
          4. We then follow the pattern God sets in the progression of God’s work: Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Saul, and David, and none of them is the promised one who would crush the serpent and bring an end to the curse and see that Eden would be restored. 
        3. Who will be the One to crush the rebellion and bring full salvation to man and creation?
      4. Restoration
        1. Galatians 4:4-5 (CSB) 4 When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.
          1. At the appointed time, the Lord sent his Son, the Eternal Son of God, who was and is the One promised who would come from Eve, to redeem those he placed under the law to show them they could not save themselves and needed God to save them. 
        2. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all go to great pains to tell us that Jesus is this Son.
          1. Jesus comes, lives, shows us God in himself, is crucified, buried, raised alive, and ascended into heaven. 
          2. In this work Jesus re-established his kingdom on earth, and that kingdom is advancing through his presence on the earth in the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve who are adopted as children of God through his sacrificial work on the cross in their place for their sin in local churches.
          3. Here is an exposition of how Romans 3:21-26 speaks about the work of redemption.
            1. God has now put on display what his righteousness looks like, and it’s not the law.
              1. It’s Jesus, and the Old Testament was bearing witness to the truth of Jesus. 
            2. God’s righteousness is available to everyone through faith in Jesus, who is the righteousness of God.
              1. Jesus is the promised One!
            3. Why did we need this righteousness?
              1. Because all have sinned and fall short of the righteous glory of God because that’s what sin did. It spread death to all people and all of creation. 
            4. Now, people can be made righteous (justified) as a gift by the powerful grace/gift of God through the redemption work of Jesus. 
            5. What is the redemption work of Jesus?
              1. God the Father took Jesus and presented him as the sacrificial offering to satisfy His completely right and justified wrath at and on mankind for mankind’s guilt and role in wrecking all things. 
              2. Because of what Adam did, we all get charged with the guilt for it.
                1. God said the day he did it, all would die. 
                2. That’s part of the death sentence Adam chose for all of us. 
              3. But God takes Jesus’ sacrifice and presents his perfection as payment for your sin and mine. 
            6. The Father has to do this. He does not have an option. Why?
              1. Because he is just, and will not let injustice go unpunished.
              2. God, being gracious, let past sins slide.
                1. In his restraint, he passed over previously committed sins, like David’s sin recorded in Samuel. 
                2. If God does not punish David’s sin in a manner that reflects God’s justice, God is unjust.
                  1. But God did punish David’s sin! How?
                  2. Jesus goes to the cross, and the Father places on Jesus all the guilt of David’s sin…past, present, and future. 
                  3. What David received in this life for his actions were consequences. He did not get divine justice, or he would be in hell. 
                  4. God graciously passed over his sins until Jesus would pay the price to make David’s faith in the Lord have a redemptive end. 
                  5. Jesus takes the penalty for David’s sin. Your sin. My sin. The sin of the world.
                  6. And in this work of the cross, God does justice by punishing sin, AND he provides kind mercy for anyone who will appropriate Jesus’ sacrifice by repenting and believing in the Lord Jesus. 
        3. What does God accomplish in the redemptive work of Jesus?
      5. Restoration
        1. What is the restoration?
        2. Restoration is what is commonly referred to as “sanctification” and  “heaven” in most Christian circles.
          1. In the restoration, God saves people from himself through faith in Jesus and transforms them into new creations.
            1. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (CSB) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!
          2. In the restoration, God begins the transformation of the created order in the sanctification of his church until he returns to personally finish the work of restoration in the final judgment, the reward for his saints, and personally ushering in the renewed created order called the “new heaven and the new earth”, that has zero stains of sin in it.
            1. Revelation 20:11 – 21:4 (CSB) 11 Then I saw a great white throne and one seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. 12 I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. 13 Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; each one was judged according to their works. 14 Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

21:1 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. 2 I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.

So what?

  1. Believe it. 
  2. Tell it. 
  3. Act like it. 

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