Sermon #1402[i] Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: Our Exclusive Message
Text: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Subject: The Meaning and Exclusiveness of The Gospel
Date: Sunday Morning – April 30, 2000
Tape # V-80b
Reading: Romans 1:1-17 or 1 Timothy 4:1-16
There are many things which people might look at as things which make us different from other churches.
· Visitors sometimes make comments about the simplicity of our worship services. The first thing observed by most is the fact that we have none of the trappings of religion.
· Others have made comments, usually with a disapproving tone, about the fact that we have no specialized ministries (Children’s Church – Singles – Youth Ministry – Seniors Ministry – Interracial Activities – Counseling, etc.), or religious entertainment (Singings – Plays – Cantatas, etc.).
· Some question why we do not engage in church ball leagues and bowling leagues.
· Of course, some raise questions about why we do not join in the various cooperative religious endeavors with other churches, and why we are not affiliated with any denomination.
Let me make two comments about these things. I hope you will remember them.
First, the absence of all the nonsense commonly associated with religion, churches, and church activities is not accidental but deliberate and determined.
Second, these are not the things which separate us from others. The absence of these things may be what people talk about; but these are not the things which distinguish us from other churches around town.
That which distinguishes us from every other church in this town, that which distinguishes your pastor from all other pastors in our community is our exclusive message. That will be my subject this morning – Our Exclusive Message.
Turn with me to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. I want to make another stab at defining, in biblical terms, the gospel of Christ. Please understand, I am not asking, “What do you think the gospel is?” Or “What is the Baptist, Protestant, or Calvinistic gospel?” It is utterly irrelevant what you or I think the gospel is. And it is utterly irrelevant what Baptists, Protestants, Calvinists, Arminians, or Papists think the gospel is.
My only concern, and I hope your only concern, is this: How does the Word of God define the gospel? What does God say in his Word? How does the Holy Spirit describe the gospel? We will begin here in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Every word in the text is important. Do not miss a syllable. This is Our Exclusive Message.
Proposition: Here the Holy Spirit tells us that there is but one gospel, that all truly God ordained, God called, God sent preachers preach this gospel, that all true believers have received and stand in this gospel, and that this gospel is the means by which we are saved.
I trust that God the Holy Spirit will be pleased to speak by me to your hearts for the glory of Christ. I want to show you seven things by which the Word of God defines the gospel.
I. First, it should be clearly understood that THE GOSPEL IS AN EXCLUSIVE MESSAGE.
Paul did not say to the Corinthians, I declare unto you “a” gospel, as if there were many gospels or even many interpretations of the gospel. Paul said, “I declare unto you THE GOSPEL!” In fact, if you read the New Testament carefully, you will find that the only time the word gospel is used without a definite article, noun, or personal pronoun identifying it specifically as the gospel of Christ, as the exclusive message of Christ crucified, is when it is used to refer to another gospel!
This is what the Word of God teaches: THERE IS ONLY ONE GOSPEL. The world says “There are many gospels.” Compromising preachers say, “There is only one gospel; but it is interpreted by different men in different ways.” But the Word of God declares that there is but one gospel.
· Christ is the Way. Every other way is a way to destruction.
· Christ is the Truth. All other ways are a lie.
· Christ is the Life. All other ways are death.
· Christ is the Door to Life. All other doors are doors to hell.
If, indeed, there is only one Way, one Savior, and one gospel, you would be wise to get in that Way, find that Savior, and learn that Gospel!
· The preaching of the new birth is not the preaching of the gospel, though we should and do declare to all men, “Ye must be born again.” The focus of the gospel is not the experience of grace, but the grounds of grace.
· The preaching of the love of God is not the preaching of the gospel, though we rejoice to declare that “God is love.” The gospel is the declaration of the righteousness of God. The love of God is the cause of the gospel; but it is not the gospel. The gospel is not found in John 3:16. The gospel is found in John 3:14.
· The preaching of Christ’s second coming is not the preaching of the gospel, though we are daily looking for the promise of his coming with anxious hearts. The gospel declares what Christ has done, not what he is going to do.
· The preaching of revivalism is not the preaching of the gospel. Revivalism preaching focuses on man and his experience. Gospel preaching focuses on God and his grace in Christ.
· The preaching of holy living is not the preaching of the gospel. Most preaching of that kind is nothing but the preaching of works and self-righteousness. Gospel preaching inspires and promotes holiness of life, but it talks about God’s holiness revealed, manifest, and satisfied in Christ; and that inspires holiness in men and women who would blush to hear anyone speak of them as “holy” people.
The gospel of Christ is an exclusive message. Before we proceed any further, I want you to understand what I am saying. Those who do not believe the gospel, believe a false gospel. Those who do not preach the gospel, preach a perversion gospel. Those who do not walk in this way, walk in the wrong way. They may be sweet, sincere, morally good people; but those who do not know the gospel are lost.
Illustration: My Conversation in North Wilkesboro -- “Where were we before we came to know this gospel?”
II. Second, THE GOSPEL IS AN EXCLUSIVE MESSAGE ABOUT A PAST, HISTORIC EVENT.
The gospel preached by the Apostles always referred to something in the past, a finished work, an accomplished deed, a completed task. This is very important. The pastness of the gospel is an essential aspect of the gospel. The preaching of the gospel is the declaration of something done in the past. It is presently preached. It is presently received. And it presently saves. But it is a past, finished work which we declare in the gospel.
In preaching the gospel, we declare specific, undeniable facts.
A. We preach “How that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”
B. We preach “That he was buried.”
The Son of God really did die as a man at Calvary. He did not pass out, faint, or go into a trance. He died. They buried his body in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. But he did not stay dead!
C. In preaching the gospel, we declare that Christ “rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
Yet, there is more.
D. When we preach the gospel, we declare a fact which cannot be denied upon any reasonable grounds, but such a phenomenal fact that it cannot be understood or explained apart from the gospel. -- THE RISEN CHRIST WAS SEEN OF MANY, ON NUMEROUS OCCASIONS!
However, preaching the gospel is more, much, much more than just declaring undeniable facts. Forcing a sinner to believe facts he cannot refute will do him no spiritual good. The preaching of the gospel is more than just an exclusive message about a past, historic event.
III. Third, THE GOSPEL IS AN EXCLUSIVE MESSAGE ABOUT A SINGULAR PERSON, A PERSON WHO ACCOMPLISHED A PERFECT, COMPLETE, FINISHED WORK FOR A SPECIFIC PEOPLE.
To preach the gospel is to preach the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to declare that he, by his perfect, complete, finished obedience to God as a man, brought in everlasting righteousness, made an end of sin, and obtained eternal redemption for God’s elect. Now, let’s see if I can make good on that statement. Is that, or is it not the specific teaching of Holy Scripture.
The preaching of he gospel is not he preaching of possibilities, but the preaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and his perfect, complete, finished work of redemption and righteousness as our Substitute.
IV. Fourth, I want you to see clearly that THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS MORE THAN AN EXCLUSIVE MESSAGE - THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS THE EXCLUSIVE MESSAGE OF HOLY SCRIPTURE.
I sometimes actually hear preachers excuse themselves from preaching the gospel under the pretense of preaching all the counsel of God. Their excuse will not hold water. That man who said to the Ephesians, “I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God,” the Apostle Paul, is the very same man who said, “I am determined to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” He is the same man who exclaimed, “Necessity is upon me, yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
The gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ, the message of redemption and grace through the sin-atoning blood of Christ is the singular, exclusive message of Holy Scripture. This is what I am telling you: Though a man may preach the facts of Scripture and may even be true to the letter of Scripture, no man preaches the Word of God who does not preach the gospel. That is not Bible preaching which is not gospel preaching. That is exactly what Peter tells us in 1 Peter 1:23-25.
V. Fifth, THE GOSPEL, THIS EXCLUSIVE MESSAGE OF REDEMPTION AND GRACE IN CHRIST, IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION, EXCLUSIVELY!
The preaching of the gospel is God’s chosen, ordained means of grace, the means, the exclusive means, by which chosen, redeemed sinners are born again, called to, and given faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I want you to see that this is the exact teaching of Holy Scripture. I do not care if it throws a monkey wrench in your theological system. This is exactly what God says in his Word.
· God does not save sinners by a false gospel. If he did, Paul would not have said, Let that Arminian, free will, work monger be damned who preaches a false gospel (Gal. 1:6-9).
· God does not save sinners apart from the preaching of the gospel.
· Those who have a form of godliness while denying the power thereof (1 Tim. 3:5) are religious men and women who deny the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ.
Listen carefully to what the Scriptures declare. Those whom God intends to save he will save by the preaching of the gospel. If that means Philip must meet a chosen Ethiopian on a desert road, that is no problem to God. If that means the ship carrying his messenger must be lost at sea to land that messenger on an island inhabited by chosen barbarians, that is no problem. God has his way in the whirlwind. If that means God’s messenger must be falsely accused, arrested, and sent through an earthquake so that a crusty old jailer at Philippi may be born again, God can arrange that with great ease.
The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation. The gospel is that by which we have been saved, are being saved, and shall yet be saved. There is no point in the believer’s life in which he is not being saved by the gospel. Are you hearing me? God’s elect are…
· Regenerated by the gospel (1 Pet. 1:23).
· Sanctified by the gospel (John 17:17).
· Edified by the gospel (Eph. 4:11-16).
· Inspired in life by the gospel (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 2 Cor. 8:9).
· Ruled by the gospel (Gal. 6:14-16).
· Reproved and rebuked by the gospel (Zech. 12:10).
· Comforted and encouraged by the gospel (John 10:27-30; 1 John 2:1-2).
VI. Sixth, THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS THE EXCLUSIVE MESSAGE WHICH EVERY PREACHER CALLED AND SENT OF GOD IS SENT TO PREACH.
Roland Hill was exactly right when he said, “Any message which does not contain the three R’s (Ruin by the Fall, Redemption by the Blood, and Regeneration by the Holy Spirit) ought never to have been preached.”
Illustration: “That was a very poor sermon.”
Any man called of God to preach is called of God to preach the gospel!
VII. Seventh, THE GOSPEL OF GOD’S FREE AND SOVEREIGN GRACE IN CHRIST IS OUR ONLY HOPE BEFORE GOD.
My hope is not in my goodness but in God’s grace, not in my righteousness but Christ’s redemption, not in my faithfulness but in his faithfulness. I am a man who is at war with himself, because of my sin and corruption. Yet, in Christ I have hope and peace with God. I cannot express myself better on this point than by using the words of William Romaine.
"It is true that I have sin in me, but it is pardoned. God has forgiven me all trespasses. I stand before Him in my Redeemer, Who undertook for me, and I am perfect in Him. The Father chose me in His Son: He looks upon the face of His beloved, and sees me in Him. In Christ He is well pleased, so He is with me! As He loves Christ - He loves me! This is the glorious privilege which by faith I now enjoy. I deny sight and sense, and I believe the Word of God! I adhere strictly to the Word of God concerning me, believing myself to be dead indeed unto sin in Christ, and in Him absolutely freed from guilt and condemnation. The Father is at peace with me, and He loves me in His Son, with the same love with which He loves Christ - His Father and my Father. With this persuasion I go to war with my corruptions. They are fighting against everything that is dear and precious to my soul. But having the promised grace of the almighty Savior for my help, I desire to set upon them in His name. I am at war with sin but at peace in Christ!"
“My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”
“Could my tears forever flow, Could my zeal no languor know,
All for sin could not atone. Christ must save, and Christ alone.
Application: Now, let me appeal to you who are yet under the wrath of God. I speak to you, in the very words of my Master. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). It is my heart’s prayer and desire to God for you that he will be pleased to grant you life and faith in Christ by the irresistible power and grace of his Holy Spirit, for the glory of his own great name. Amen.
[i] Sermon # 1292 Danville – Sunday Morning – August 24, 1997