For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Understanding the Gospel: Part 1 - We are Guilty

The pages of history are filled with brutal dictators who commit atrocities. Our newsfeeds are filled with stories of murders, terrorist attacks, kidnappings and genocides. Our financial pages are filled with articles telling of embezzlement, unfair trade practices, and price gouging. Our private conversations are filled with experiences of petty theft, violated trust, and malicious lies.

It seems that there are people who are filled with all types of depravity. They are inventors of evil, heartless and ruthless. They are evil and delight in murder. They are consumed with envy and jealousy and boast of their exploits. Their thinking is so twisted that they call what is obviously evil good. And they work hard to convince people to join them in their lifestyle. We look at these evil people and yearn for justice.

The Bible assures us that justice is coming. God is just. He will not let the wrong go unpunished. There is no "perfect crime" that will somehow go unpunished. Hitler escaped a human court by committing suicide. He did not escape God's court. Justice will be done.

Knowing that these evil people will be punished by God causes us to sigh with relief. "It is good that they will get what they deserve" Everyone wants the playground bully to be put in his proper place!

What if the news reporter examined your life? What evils would be exposed? Or worse, what if God examined your life? How will you fare on the day of God's judgment of your life?
  • Are you a thief? Before you answer, "of course not", think about whether you have ever taken something that wasn't yours or used something without paying for it. For example, have you ever hopped on the tram without validating your ticket or taken a few supplies home from work? If so, you are a thief.
  • Are you an adulterer? You are an adulterer if you have had sex outside of marriage. You are an adulterer if you visit a prostitute. In fact, you are an adulterer if you use the "services" of a prostitute "impersonally" by viewing pornography. 
  • Are you a liar? If you have ever told a lie, you are a liar. 
When we start to examine our lives, we often begin by comparing ourselves with others rather holding ourselves up to the true standard of righteousness set by God. If we measure ourselves by the true standard, we realise that we are guilty and will fall silent.

The truths expressed so far in this post are drawn primarily from the first three chapters of the book of Romans. It is sobering to realise that we are guilty before God and are subject to His wrath. It is in this context that the gospel begins to make sense. No one is righteous. Not one. We all deserve wrath.

Evangelism Implications:

The book of Acts shows us how the early church went about doing evangelism. While they did not follow a script, almost every situation included the fact that we are guilty before God. hen Paul was in prison he was given frequent opportunities to talk to Felix, the governor who had charge over him. These were moments to talk about Jesus, yet Paul focused on reasoning with him about "righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment" (Acts 24:24-27). Paul understood that unless Felix understood his true condition, he would never understand the implications of the cross. Paul was willing to talk to Felix about judgment even though it made Felix uncomfortable.

One way to do this in an evangelism context is to ask whether the person thinks they are good enough to get into heaven. Almost invariably they will say, "I hope so." We can then tell them that the 10 Commandments are a test that one must pass and ask them if they would like to take it. If they agree, we can begin with the question, "Have you ever told a lie?" Almost everyone will admit that they have and then you can ask them, "What does that make you?" The correct answer is "A liar". That will make them uncomfortable, but it is important that they realise that they are guilty before God. 

Theological Basis:

Sin is any failure to conform to the moral last of God in act, attitude, or nature. We sin by committing acts (like lying or stealing) that violate God's moral law. We also sin by having attitudes that are contrary to his law. For example, we are not to covet things that are not ours (Exodus 20:17) and Jesus forbids anger and lust (Matt 5:22-28).  In addition, we are by nature sinners (Ephesians 2:3). This nature is inherited from Adam (Romans 5:18-19). In fact, we are so infused with sin that we are incapable of doing anything "good" that would warrant our salvation. We are dead in our sins (Eph 2:1-2). We are slaves to sin and unable to free ourselves (John 8:34). Even what we do that appears to be good is like a filthy rag in God's sight (Isaiah 64:6; Rom 3:9-20). The right application of God's moral law serves to expose our true condition (Romans 3:19-20). That is its purpose (1 Timothy 1:8-11).

Scriptures to Consider:

Psalm 51:1-5; John 8:31-36; Isaiah 53:6; 64:6; Romans 1:18-3:31; Romans 5:1-21; Ephesians 2:1-5; 1 John 1:8-10

Part 2 is found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment