This gospel message is from the sermon “From the Manger to the Cross”,
preached December 12th, 2021. Transcript below.
I want to bring together for you the full picture of redemption, because without understanding who God is and what He’s done in righteousness and who you are and what you’ve done in wickedness there can be no salvation.
If the Christmas story is about anything it is about salvation coming in the Person of Christ—Son of God and Son of Man, and mankind received a hope promised long ago. The hope we believe is known as the gospel.
Well, what is the gospel?
That’s a term that’s thrown around all the time, and it can make us think of everything from a musical style to a charitable organization handing out meals downtown.
It’s true that the gospel was originally the source of all Christian music, and just about every charity you could think of had at root an understanding of the gospel. But so much of that is obscured today.
Many musical groups labeled gospel have no relationship to Christ or His church. And many once gospel-centered charities retain the truth only in name. And, I tell you the truth, many so-called Christian churches have no concept any longer of what the true message of the gospel is.
In fact, in the last year, so many have come to us because they felt their own churches had drifted from biblical doctrine, lost sight of the biblical gospel, and were failing to feed the flock the bread of God’s Word.
I don’t know if these churches are willfully abandoning the gospel in rebellion or are ignorantly straying because their leaders have not been taught the true gospel.
In either case it is a terrifying reality. The gospel should be the most basic doctrinal ingredient of any church.
Because the gospel is what one believes to be saved.
Churches are literally made up of gospel believers, professors of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
No Jesus, no salvation. No gospel, no church.
Well, I’ve told you that the gospel is absent or lacking in many places today. So let me tell you what the gospel is, and you be the judge. Have you heard it?
And by the way, I will not innovate here. I will tell you the message from Scripture that saved me and proclaim only the gospel I was discipled to deliver and defend.
The word gospel comes from the Greek evangelion (εὐαγγέλιον). It’s a word that means “good news” and it is rooted in the OT Scriptures.
For it was Isaiah who declared the Word of the LORD, saying,
“Therefore My people shall know My name… How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!'” (Isa 52:6-7).
The Good News of Isaiah was that God was sovereign and would one day be known by name by His people, even though they had rebelled.
In the NT there are four gospel accounts. That is, there are four presentations of the hope of the gospel. We find those in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Matthew and Mark give the story of Christ’s birth. What was the message of the angel at the birth of Christ?
“In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people” (Luke 2:8-10).
God had announced through the prophets that He would reveal Himself to His people and be their God. And in the gospels we find God sent His Son into the world and the very announcement of His birth was good news.
And here was the greatness of that good news:
“…for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11).
Jesus had been born, and the angel declared that He was a Savior. A Savior implies that there are those who need to be saved. But what are they saved from?
They must be saved from the sin which leads to eternal condemnation in hell. But if you ask the average person if they are a sinner, quite often the answer will be “No! I’m a good person.”
But you will easily see your sinful nature when you consider who God is. It is in the contrast between a holy God and sinful men and women everywhere that the truth emerges.
When Isaiah saw a vision of God on His throne, he understood in an instant the greatness and holiness of God. Speaking of the angels of God:
“And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory'” (Isa. 6:3).
It is this holy God who is our Creator. Genesis tells us that He made the heavens and the earth and everyone who draws in the breath He gives were made by Him.
“…The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Psa. 24:1).
That means we belong to Him and answer ultimately to Him.
The problem is that we are born in sin and our lives are filled with sin. After the creation, our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit. And we have not only inherited their sin nature, but have willfully followed after their pattern ever since:
“…as it is written, ‘THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE'” (Rom. 3:10-12).
That means that whether you think yourself to be a sinner or not, you must be. If no one is righteous, that means that everyone is a sinner. We don’t even seek after God. And anything we do that we think is good, apart from faith, God says no one does good.
You are surely aware that you have lied, or that you have not worshiped God as you should. But has God brought you to that point where you know yourself truly to be a great sinner?
After Isaiah saw those angels around the throne of God, he reveals to us that it is in the awareness of God’s holiness that human flesh feels its sinfulness. Listen to Isaiah’s response to that scene:
“Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts'” (Isa. 6:5).
When you have a right understanding of the LORD, you do not need to survey each of your sins to see if they really add up to a sinful nature. The reality is, Adam and Eve broke one solitary law and they brought death to the world and the curse upon humanity on that day.
You and I have sinned far more than that, but recognizing that God demands of His creature’s righteousness and knowing that He is the righteous Judge of all creation should bring us to our knees.
The Lord says:
“I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts…” (Isa. 65:2).
That is an apt description of our world today—the people walk according to their own thoughts and all too willingly sin against God.
But you say, so what, I’ve sinned, what’s the problem?
And the problem is that you will die in your sins, and in dying in your sins your soul will be lost. You will forfeit heaven and gain only eternal punishment.
“Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.” (Ezek. 18:4).
Paul’s letter to the Romans puts it this way: “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom. 6:23).
Jesus said to those who heard His message, “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luk. 13:5).
He also warned against being fearful of man above God—of being more worried of being shamed or embarrassed or even persecuted by people than of worshiping God.
“Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat 10:28).
What is the solution to this great problem? The apostle Paul said it this way: “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:24-25).
And therein is the answer—in the person of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Jesus completed His life on earth as the righteous One depicted in all of Scripture. Everywhere you read of the righteous vs. the wicked, the sense in which that applies to those who fear God is in an imputed, a granted sense—since no one has ever lived perfectly righteously.
But everywhere in Scripture where you see the righteous described, you see details of the kind of holy love for God’s Word and ways that was only ever perfectly fulfilled in the life of Christ.
When someone asks, what is the level of righteousness required for heaven, you tell them, the righteousness of Christ! The perfections of Christ, for only the sinless will enter heaven.
How than can we be saved?
When Romans says the wages of sin is death, it continues by saying but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God gives to us the righteousness required for salvation, through Christ Jesus our Lord. The righteousness required of us is so far beyond our reach we could never attain to it in the first place. And certainly after sinning, we could never atone for it.
“For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit…” (1 Pet. 3:18).
Jesus was the just dying for the unjust so that He could make us alive together with Him.
“If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, That You may be feared” (Psa. 130:3-4).
No one will stand in the judgment apart from the saving work of Christ. We have sinned even in high handed ways against God. And yet Christ came to the lowliest of places so that we could be forgiven of every sin.
We pursued hell as we headed toward destruction; and yet He bore the very wrath of God against sin on the cross. The punishment we rightly deserved, He willingly took upon Himself.
We had an infinite debt, and the Infinite One paid it in full!
“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (Psa. 103:8-14).
What lovingkindness, what steadfast love the Lord has shown us.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:20-21).
“For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God…” (1 Thes. 1:9).
“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (Heb. 13:20-21).
Someone will always say, “I’m not ready to live my life as a Christian. I need more time.” But the Bible warns that you do not know the hour of your death.
Many who say they are not ready to live for Christ today will say at their death that they are not ready to meet Him.
“…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED'” (Rom. 10:9-11).
That is the truth. You speak to any Christian today living for Christ and they will tell you God has never disappointed. In fact, speak to a Christian who has been through trials and troubles and hardship. Speak to those ones and you will see that no matter what God has brought their way, He has always been with them and He has only taught them through that pain.
Jesus lived. He was crucified for us. He was raised the third day. He ascended to the right hand of the Father in power and he is coming again in the fullness of His Glory for all who have turned to the Living God through Him.
Trust in Him. Jesus is Lord, and He is King of Kings.
Think on that today, would you? And if you haven’t been sharing the Gospel as a Christian recently, think about what the Gospel really is. Think about why we need to have it in every church proclaimed, and even on every street corner where there are those who are lost, and who are weary.
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