Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lives Restructured By the Gospel

"All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you,and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way..."
2 Cor 5:18 – 6:4, ESV

Have you lost the AWE of the gospel? Are you enraptured with its beauty, blinded by its glory, soaking in its wonder? The gospel is not just to “get in” the family of God; the gospel is how we live each day. It’s our hope and our theme, a delight and treasure, to the praise of God’s grace. The gospel captivates us and kills us; thrills our soul and restructures our life.
In the above text we see key points of the gospel.
Today is your day for the gospel: revisited.

1. From God. (5:18a). The very first thing we see is that the gospel is from God, not
man! It is God's gospel. Isn't it wonderful that God initiates this gospel? It doesn't
depend on us trying to get to God! When Adam and Eve sinned in Genesis 3, they
didn't go looking for a way to get back to God; they HID themselves from God. No one
seeks God (Rom 3:11), but praise God he seeks us!
"...redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood." Rom 3:24b-25a

2. Through Christ. (5:18b) The next thing we see in our text about the gospel is that it is in Christ! There is no other way! (Jn 14:6)
"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

3. Reconciliation. (5:18-21). Over and over again we see the word ‘reconciled’ or a form of it. The gospel is about being reconciled to God! (Not getting wealthy, time management, 41 easy steps to a successful life)
"And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith" Col 1:21-23a

4. Forgiveness of Sins. (5:19b) Good news: in Christ the believer's sins are forgiven! When we consider the holiness and greatness and eternal worth of God, and how that just one sin is treacherous rebellion, an attempt to dethrone a holy and infinite God (and therefore worthy of infinite punishment in hell), how glorious is the truth of forgiveness of sins!!
"for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." Mat 26:28

5. Substitutionary Atonement. (5:21) He took our place! God treated Christ as if he had committed our sins. Think of the weight of this; the eternally existing, holy and sinless Christ at the cross felt the weight of our abominations, and the condemnation and wrath of God!
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree'" Gal 3:13

6. Justification. (5:21b). The other side of substitutionary atonement. We not only had our sins placed on Christ, but God placed Christ’s righteousness on us!!! Martin Luther called this the Wonderful Exchange.
"...the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Rom 3:22-24

Caught up in the glory of the gospel yet? What an awesome thing to chew on the depths of God's grace in the gospel! But the gospel not only captivates us; it commands us! The gospel brings change to us.

Our Mission in the Gospel (18b, 19b, 20a, 6:1a).
Those who SEE this glorious gospel are recruited by it! We are even called Ambassadors for Christ. What an honor: working with Christ, joining him in his mission. Have you received as your life purpose and one great goal the joining with Christ in his mission in the earth?

The Urgency of the Gospel (20b, 6:1b-2). Our text says that now is the day of salvation. The Gospel demands immediate obedience.

Restructuring Our Lives For the Gospel (6:3-10).
Christ comes in to be in charge. He comes in to make changes! Paul suffered all things for the elect; many professing Christians today won’t suffer the smallest hindrance, but will give up on Christ and his beloved church for any reason ("someone at church offended me").

In Chapter 6 of our text (verses 3-10) Paul gives a long list of how he shows his restructured life for the gospel’s sake. Afflictions. Beatings. Imprisonments.
Have you restructured EVERYTHING around the gospel of Christ? Are you so smitten by the beauty and majesty of the gospel that you will live in obedience to Christ, no matter what the cost?
When I talk about restructuring our lives around the gospel, I'm not giving a "higher" calling for those who want to be a super-saint. I'm really just talking about repentance - which God commands all men everywhere to do (Acts 17:30). Restructuring our lives around the gospel is the call of Jesus; it is what he demands of the world!
"For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it." Mark 8:35
" But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24
"Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" 2 Tim 2:10

The Test of the Gospel (1b). “We appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.”
If we claim to believe the gospel and to have been saved by the gospel, but we won’t restructure our lives around the gospel or suffer for the gospel, we have received “the grace of God in vain” (prove ourselves false converts, not real). In chapter 13, verse 5 Paul tells us to “examine” ourselves.

Behold the glory of the gospel! Let Christ crucified be your supreme delight and treasure! Worship him for his death, burial and resurrection, and surrender all to JOIN HIM in believing the gospel, living the gospel, proclaiming the gospel. The gospel has come to us from God. Now everything must change. Restructure everything around it, for his glory!!

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